The Upwards Nod and the Speechless Hello

I spend a lot of time riding my bike, it having been my primary mode of transport over the last few years and I have noticed a common but odd form of communication. This signal is of course the Upwards Nod.

It is always at 5:30 in the morning when I am on my way home from work, from the other direction I will cross paths with someone who is obviously dressed for work. Nary a word needs to be spoken yet an Upwards Nod says, “I feel your pain”, or when you are halfway to the summit of a bastard of a hill and there’s a guy riding his bike the other way, you may be too exhausted to acknowledge him but an upwards nod is always thrown in your direction. Or waiting at a lift, looking to your side to the bike courier guy waiting as well. The upwards nod is the universal language of 2 people with nothing in common other than being in the same predicament.

Now closely related to this strange behaviour is the Speechless Hello. This is most often used when you cross paths with a pretty girl, stopping her would be weird and realistically, striking up a conversation regarding the relationship of the fixed price of the Chinese Yuan has to price of eggs, is probably not going to go down well – mainly due to the fact that she is already late for work but also because it’s a stupid topic to bring up. Not only is it a stupid topic, but the currency in China is actually known as the Renminbi further showing yourself to be a fool. Back to the Speechless Hello – you see the aforementioned Chinese princess walking down the street and for want of a better thing to do, you make eye contact, smile and mouth the word “Hi” or “Hello”. Now one of 2 things happens, she will reply in kind with a speechless hello or she will break the eye contact. Regardless of which she does, she keeps walking and you keep walking never to see each other again.

This is not the only use of the Speechless Hello, seeing a colleague through a window at work as you stroll into the office or when someone is on the phone are both common. You see, the Speechless Hello is widely used but it’s application is the same – You don’t have a good reason to interrupt the person with volume, so you use mute.


Note: Having done the smallest amount of research I believe the Renminbi is known as the Yuan or vise versa. The point shall remain for comedic value – it is also important to note that this comedy may only be valuable to me.

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