I have been wrestling with a point of Australian social etiquette (yes, there really is!) for almost the entire eleven years we’ve been living here and I’ve never been brave enough to ask anyone about it. Now that I’ve reached that age of not caring what one says, I thought I’d air what’s been bugging me all these years. So here goes.
It is polite and customary when you pass someone on a quiet street in a small suburb or village to say ‘good morning’ or ‘hi’ or perhaps just make eye contact and smile – well it used to be back in the day. Some people respond and some people do not – that’s perfectly fine. Some Australians reply with ‘how’s it going?’ or ‘how ya going?’ and I’ve never quite worked out what I’m supposed to say at this point – as you’re walking past each other there doesn’t seem to be enough time to actually say ‘I’m fine thanks, how about you?’ Do I just remain silent? I don’t know what’s expected of me.
Yesterday for example, I opened the front gate to take some rubbish down to the dustbins only to almost bump into a man wheeling a pushchair. I smiled and said “hi” and he said “hi, how’s it going?” “Fine thanks.” I replied and his response was “that’s good.” It was totally ridiculous and awkward so if any of you lovely people out there can guide me in my Australian social etiquette it would be much appreciated.