Thursday, September 29, 2011

The official greeting of Texas A&M

Photo courtesy of my loving parents! 9/30/11 on Emerald Isle, NC
      If you google Howdy, the first search result that pops up is the official Texas A&M homepage.  This may because it is what our online student portal is called, but it is also because I bet more Howdy's are said on this campus in a day than anywhere else in the world.  Exaggeration?  Maybe, maybe not.  It's a pretty populated place, ~230,000 people, and the word is just a part of the rampant school spirit in all its maroon glory.
     People in this town are big on greeting each other.  If you walk past 20 students and have your head up, I'd say your odds of being greeted are 99%.  Standing on elevators, people will talk to you, introduce themselves sometimes.  And Good Morning, Hi, and Hello, are not popular.  The most common salutation, by far, day or night, is "Howdy."  And ever since being greeted by a 20-something guy while I was standing in line in a FedEx office in July, I have made it a goal to be a Howdier (person who greets others with Howdy).  It was just a beautiful word when he said it, but  coming off of my tongue, it initially just sounded clumsy.
     The way that that first Howdy struck me was something I will never forget.  And each time I hear a good Howdy, warm and full-bodied from the mouth of any Howdier, I get one bit more globally oriented to the fact that I am indeed in Texas.  And to return that Howdy with a Hi (or even a Hi!) is not an option; Hi just simply falls flat in comparison.
     Since making it a goal to greet others with a rich Howdy,  I have learned that it definitely takes some practice..even just returning a Howdy properly took getting used to!  First off, I was still taken by surprise when someone walking past me would greet me at all, so a startled Hi! was all I could get out of my mouth the first few weeks of being in Texas.  I quickly noted that the friendliest people of all are people in the Corps of Cadets.  These kids all say Howdy, so if I see one (easily identifiable in their fancy khaki outfits, knee high boots, little hats) coming my way  I know to get ready.
     Anyhow, with practice, I've gotten a lot better at returning Howdy's, but I'm pretty sure people can tell I'm from somewhere else though, because I say it a bit too excitedly and am probably grinning a bit too broadly.  Plus, my voice has, as my high-school drama teacher put it, "a unique timbre to it."  And though I'm getting good at returning it, I have yet to actually be the first to say it, to serve the Howdy, if you will, because it's just not my instinct like it is for these Texans. 
    Overall, I really like the level of friendliness here and this Howdy challenge.  I wonder if when I move from Texas, if I will be such a Howdier that I keep saying it and people will be like, Oh She's a Texan?  Interesting to think about... I just like what greeting people does to how I relate to the people around me.   Getting around on yellow fixed-gear, not an F-350, and not eating animals, among other things, does differentiate me substantially from the average Texan, but when I greet someone with HOWDY, the differences between us disappear.. and we're just two people sharing a moment in time.

     I now have my own profile on the Oceanography student page, it's not much yet, but you can Check it out

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