Why do strangers greet? (And why do Polish people not?)
I’ve been on a round trip by train. From Germany to Poland to Lithuania, back to Poland and Germany.
I had a strange experience doing this. Polish people don't greet strangers. Not if the door is held open for them. Not when they get into the train compartment. It's weird. They just don’t greet.
At first, you think they are unfriendly, but then you realise that doesn't necessarily have to be the reason. They're not rude; they don't block the way; not a single unkind word; they just ignore you.
Why is it so? Why do US-Americans talk to everyone, but Poles act like they were born without vocal cords?
Let’s ask why we greet in general.
I guess it‘s because we want to show that we‘re in a friendly mood. That we don't want anything wrong with the other. That we don't have to be afraid of each other.
If that's the main reason, then frequent greetings could be to reassure each other constantly that you mean well. General non-greeting would then be a sign that such constant self-assurance is not necessary. The supposed ignorance could then be a good sign, namely that one lives in a fundamentally friendly society.
Is the Polish community such?
Maybe. Maybe not. I wasn't there long enough to conclude. In any case, I should not assume that greeting reveals much about whether people are towards and interested in other people.
The Strolling Economist