Good Morning

Dear Teresa,

There are a few basic social skills I would have thought you might have by now. You have had, after all, fourteen years’ experience on this planet, and you’re in your ninth year of school, counting kindergarten. I would have assumed that you would have picked up some of the more elementary social skills by now, either by direct instruction or by observing others. How to respond to “Good morning” said with a smile is one of those skills.

Let me assure you, your various responses to me when I said “Good morning” to you were all strong evidence that you lack this basic social skill.

Your first response, “Leave me alone,” implies that you don’t know what “Good morning” means. It’s not antagonistic. It’s not provocative. It’s merely a greeting. If I’d given you a hard time about how you behaved in class yesterday, then “Leave me alone” might be a proper response — provided I was a peer and not your teacher. However, to “Good morning,” the usual response, no matter how irritated you are, is, ironically, simply “Good morning.”

You second response was nonverbal but actually said more than your verbal response a few minutes earlier. You see, I thought I’d give you another shot at it, but this time, you decided to take it to another level. In holding up your hand by your face, palm out (that gesture known colloquially as “talk to the hand”), you were suggesting with that body language that you would, if you could, shove me out of your space. Of course, there was a good fifteen feet between us, so I was hardly in your space.

Your third response, this time to being instructed on how to reply to “Good morning,” was your most direct, but it’s the one that will cause you the most trouble in life if you continue employing it as a response to “Good morning.” You see, when someone is wishing you a good morning, to tell them “Get out of my face” is about as rude as you can be. When that someone is in fact someone in a position of authority, it’s just plain dumb. For now, it results in a referral. In the future, it will result in being fired. Again, and again, and again. I would venture to say that there is no situation in which you could say “Get out of my face” to someone in a position of authority over you that would not result in the most unpleasant of consequences.

I, for example, cannot imagine saying that to a colleague let alone to my principal. My job would be gone, and rightfully so.

That’s the future I see for you unless you can learn to suck it up, resist the urge to say what you want to say, and simply say, “Good morning.”

Your Teacher


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