Do your own PR and say hello once in a while

Sometimes we can all get a little caught up in our worlds. From the man that I let in front of me in the coffee queue who failed to acknowledge the gesture, to the lady on the tube who also ignored my struggle to stand up with heavy grocery bags so I could give her my seat, to the gentleman who watched me dashing towards the lift and then let the door slide closed in my face.

After a few deep breaths I contemplated that maybe it’s not rudeness? Maybe everyone is so preoccupied that they fail to be mindful and even notice that there are other people and friendly customs to follow.

Today being #WorldHelloDay, reminds us of the elderly and lonely whose day could be made by the smallest gesture. According to Age UK, around 360,000 elderly people in the UK haven’t had a conversation with friends or family for over a week.

Being a Darlington export it’s very natural for me to talk to anyone. So when I moved here 19 years ago I made a pledge that if I was on a tube, on a bus, in the supermarket queue or just walking down the street, that I would stop and say hello to any elderly people I saw.  I still do this and because of it I have made some fantastic connections, including a lovely friend named Margaret who lived in my street – a 94-year-old blind lady who lived on her own, until the day she died, and entertained me with stories of how she was the first female lecturer at Oxford and how she knew almost every line of every poem ever written.  I met her in the street – and stopped to say hello one day – and a five-year friendship grew out of it.

So as the weather gets colder and our hangovers become more regular over the Christmas season, this is a pledge for everyone to do their own bit of personal PR and make sure your elderly neighbours are OK in the winter. Being mindful is a great way of noticing what is going on around you – instead of focusing on what’s past and what may happen in the future – be mindful that there are 360,000 elderly people who would love a smile and quick hello.

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