Lance Scranton: What it isn’t?
October 16, 2018
Cool sayings come and go, but I remember one that was heard often on sitcoms when I was growing up. "What it is?" was a popular way to greet people and begin the obligatory conversations of life on many television shows I watched. How we greet each other has changed throughout the years, and especially in our politically correct world, where we find ourselves monitoring our speech.
When I lived in Arizona, my wife and I stopped to help someone who appeared to be stranded. I asked, "Can I help you, ma'am?" to which I was abruptly verbally accosted about what the word ma'am meant and who did I think I was for having the nerve to refer to her in such a derogatory manner. I drove away in a state of mild shock and have been careful about how I greet people ever since.
Greeting people in an increasingly sensitive culture is challenging, and I sometimes find myself using the head-nod-and-smile technique, hoping I don't offend anyone. It works most of the time, but invariably, someone will determine my lack of verbiage indicates something unflattering. So, teaching young adults to mind their manners and be respectful can be challenging at times. I hardly ever greet anyone of the opposite sex with any type of comment about how they look, how they are dressed, or any other friendly compliment — it's too dangerous in this #metoo movement culture.
Even saying "Hi!" isn't even safe anymore, as someone might think that you are making a judgment about their state of mind and in a state that doesn't seem to mind recreational cannabis; it might be time for for a more banal, ultra-non-judgmental greeting. I'm thinking maybe: "What it isn't."
Isn't my business how you look. Isn't my business if you are having a good day. Isn't my business how you feel.
Isn't my business what's going on in your life. Isn't my business to know or determine anything about you except that I am recognizing your presence in front of me at this particular moment in time. You can share with me whatever you would like, and should there be any question about my intentions — well — what it isn't is what I'm all about. It isn't my intention to make any kind of class distinction or cultural appropriation, or force any kind of gender-normative behavior.
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I'm just an older guy trying my best to be polite and hope that you have a great day!
Lance Scranton is a teacher and coach at Moffat County High School.