13 years ago, I served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Argentina.

On that mission, I learned to walk.

Walking was how we got from place to place, typically walking 10 to 15 miles daily…and I’m not talking casual walking; I’m talking about fast-paced, brisk walking, the kind that breaks a sweat.

Back then, I weighed about 190 pounds. Today, I’m at 238 and I’ll assume that’s because I haven’t been consistently walking since I returned to the United States in 2003.

Because I’ve gained so much weight, I sometimes feel like I need to apply this quote from HeavyWeights…

Attention campers. Lunch has been cancelled due to lack of hustle. Deal with it. – Tony Perkis

Btw, if you haven’t seen the movie, Heavyweights, you should go watch it right now. It’s a classic Ben Stiller comedy.

As a missionary in Argentina you get used to making eye contact, in hopes of starting a conversation. Most Argentinians love to talk so making eye contact was easy.

But after returning to the United States, I noticed that people avoid any type of contact; some even go out of their way to avoid it altogether.

Do I smell or something?

Are most Americans like this? These people don’t say “hi” or even acknowledge I exist.

Here are some possible reasons why they might be avoiding me:

  • I’m staring at them and they’re creeped out (mean face popup added for effect but not real)
  • My height is intimidating
  • They don’t know life exists outside their phone
  • They’re too busy thinking about themselves
  • My blue eyes are too dreamy and they’re afraid they’d fall in love with me
  • They’re in a hurry (which never appears to be the case)
  • Saying “hello” is beneath them

It could be any of those reasons; it could be none of them.

I was thinking that a great way to build instant trust would be to wear a bright yellow t-shirt with a smiley face on it every time I walk. Something like this:

yellow smiley shirt

What do you think? What are some ways I could gain people’s trust so they’ll say “hi” when we pass each other?

** UPDATE **

I went walking again and noticed that people with animals were more likely to say hi as we passed than those walking by themselves. Interesting.