Play Makers: Hey, Hi, Hello … I’m a Yukoner

“Hello, my name is George … and I nod my head.”

I thought I should confess that right away and get it out in the open.

I think it is important to confess traits you might not be the most proud of.

When I lived in Victoria, I wouldn’t dare nod my head to greet someone or acknowledge their presence.

It just seemed so rude and impersonal.

To me, the so-called “head-nodder” was more suited to the gangsta type.

You know the one: walks with a limp, wears pants that are too short or shorts that are too long, dons the white high tops, has the ball cap on crooked and possibly, but not always, displays some form of jewelry that would make even Mr. T gag.

When I moved to the Yukon just over six years ago, I stood by this theory.

I would walk down Main Street and regularly strike up a conversation with a new co-worker, a friend of a friend, someone who knew my cousin, my banker.

Sure it took me a little longer to get my mail or buy my double-double, but it didn’t matter because, after all, who doesn’t love a little conversation or two once in awhile?

Besides, I was still a fresh-faced Cheechako and was freshly awestruck by the beauty of the Yukon and the immense friendliness of everyone.

These daily chit chats would continue over the months and soon I found myself saying hi to people I didn’t even know.

They would say hi to me so, in typical Canadian fashion, I would feel obliged to say hi back.

Did I know who they were?

Most times not, but still our friendly banters continued.

Some days there would be eight, nine, even 10 exchanges, even rare occurrences when I would say hi to the same person three times in a matter of minutes … all on Main Street.

As I became more comfortable living in Whitehorse, I started to become more involved in extracurricular activities and, with that, found my schedule becoming busier.

But still the Main Street chats went on and soon I was faced with the dilemma of either a) continuing with the casual conversations and thus almost always arriving late to my events or b) being rude and avoiding the random encounters but subsequently showing up on time to my activities.

And even if I did choose the latter, how would I go about doing it? With my no head-nod policy strictly in place I was doomed to a life of tardiness and meaningless babble.

Weeks went by and I continued to arrive late for soccer games, acting courses, coffee breaks … and with each encounter the concern escalated.

Then one day it happened, I can still remember it vividly.

I was walking past Murdoch’s and I saw up ahead a person I had seen once at the pool.

We’d never talked, just passed each other; him enroute to the sauna, me the water slide.

In most towns a chat would not even be an option, but in Whitehorse I knew the small talk was inevitable.

As he approached I was already thinking of an excuse for my pending lateness, when suddenly it happened … I nodded my head.

We then made eye contact and continued on our way. No chat!

What a revelation.

I didn’t have to be a gangsta, I wasn’t being rude, just simply saying, “Hey there, friend, I see you but I’m on my way.”

These days the head nod is a regular weapon in my social artillery and let me tell you the results are incredible.

I show up early to events, mail parcels on time and my coffee breaks … let’s just say my boss is quite impressed.

Let’s face it, Yukoners are some of the friendliest, most polite folks in the world, but sometimes there is just not enough time in the day and that is when the head nod is so instrumental.

It’s not me being rude, it’s just my way of saying, “I see you friend, but coffee break’s over.


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