It was the same at Siemens when you entered a lift in the brand-new “Datasibirsk” of Siemens AG at Neuperlach. I arrived there in the late 1970ies as a total novice. The atmosphere was somewhat strange. We had plenty of concrete and cool colours. The stairs were well hidden in the concrete bunker. Somehow or other, there seemed to be a law compelling you to use the four permanently moving, yellow lifts (in those days, things were always in motion at Legoland).
And whenever I stepped into the never-empty lift, I was surprised. All my fellow passengers looked either at the ceiling, or at a fixed place on the opposite wall. Conversations were not common. And nobody wished you the time of day when entering or exiting.
I tried to say “Hello” to the people in the lift when entering. But I was not very much of a success – so I gave up after some time.
30 years later, in the Phoenix (that is the Ottobrunn indoor swimming pool), matters are similar. To be sure, you often see the same heads of a morning, but everybody looks in the opposite direction. Mind you, most of the sports comrades are not at all disagreeable to me á priori. Still, you never look directly at someone else. It is the same as all those years ago at Siemens.
So I decided to start an experiment a few weeks ago. I wished all the men taking a shower (no women in the men’s shower cabins) a friendly time of day.
Initially, I got some very surprised and sometimes even inimical looks in return. But by now, my strategy pays off: some of my swimming companions already say hello, for instance when I take a little time to relax in the whirlpool after my 40 lengths.
To me, it even seems like some people greet each other. And more and more join in.
So you see, it can be done. And the regular “A good day to you” will start to have a little effect, perhaps even be the beginning of a more friendly culture.
(Translated by EG)