The ultimate guide to saying “Good Shabbos”
Everyone has a different way of saying or not saying good shabbos.
The mumbling men:
I think the most common type of good shabbos is the mumble, this is when the person passing you feels obligated to say good shabbos but doesn’t actually want to say it, he waits till the last possible second and then as your eyes lock although you were both looking down, one of you mumbles a shabbos without the word good. Barely audible and barely understandable you hear some sort of noise come out of their mouth as they quicken their pace to mask their awkward forced good shabbos.
Good shabbos should only be said once, but for some reason the extroverted usually black hat type of guy without a beard feels the need to say good shabbos two maybe three times. This happens no matter how many people you are with, sometimes it is mumbled of course- as shabbos-shabbos, but most of the time it is a loud hearty- lumberjack style good shabbos bellowed from the depths of this persons heart. These folks may also throw in a “good morning, how are you” which is quite rare within the Jewish communities around New York.
The nod is extremely popular in Manhattan amongst the folks who attended a black hat yeshiva at some point. For some reason modern orthodox people never seem to bust out the nod, they usually bust out the stare and the ignore, but the nod it seems works best with a hat which actually exaggerates The Nod giving it more leverage and visibility from farther distances. Of course the nod crowd also seems to know everyone, the nod is the safe way of gaging whether you actually know the person and they are worthy of a break in the fast pace on the way to and from shull.
Nod/Mumble/say it twice:
The hurried mumbler crowd can also be combined with the nodders and the doublers. This is the most common situation in very hurried cities and tends to be most common amongst the working yeshiva crowd. It never seems to amaze me that these folks tend to be the black hat type that wears ties and holds a full time job in finance, nursing home administration or mortgage sales- they also tend to be over 40.
The Eye Locker:
You are screwed, you just want to walk to shull quickly without disturbing your thoughts about the disturbing Dr. Yael article you read in the Jewish Press the night before and you look up for a moment while lost in thought and bam its smack down time. As you look up to see what street your on- you notice dead ahead someone walking towards you with a slight knowing smirk on their face as if they were playing chicken to see who is going to cave first. Who will wimp out and say good shabbos first, you cant take those piercing eyes and you cave- this is “the eye locker.”
The Invincible Wall:
Sometimes someone won’t budge, no matter what you do- how heart felt your good shabbos is- you won’t elicit a response. It just doesn’t matter how many times you bust out your nod and doubler, or how piercing your eyes are- some people are just cold hearted sons of bitches when it comes to being friendly- kind of like the Grinch Who Stole Good Shabbos.
The Switcharoo:(racial profiling)
I know someone who has different styles of saying good shabbos depending on what type of back round the person comes from. Kind of like switching up their benching style they say Shabbat shalom to the modern looking people and good shabbos to the frummer looking people. For the ultra frum they may bow their head diagonally throw some hand gesture they picked up in daf yomi and say gut shabbos in a dragged on ultra thick accented tone.
Holy brother, holy sister with arms raised up to the sky going in for a hug or kiss and then possibly dancing in a circle on the sidewalk the true carlebachian knows how to make someone feel loved. Usually the good shabbos is drawn out like “goooooooooooood shabbbbbbbbbbboooooooos” and it is screamed in a loving way.
Some people like myself are spaced out when walking to shull and we tend to notice a bit too late that someone had even greeted us. We yell are belated good shabbos in a way that tries to ask forgiveness for appearing to be one of those cold as ice MF gtuys who wont say it no matter what. Sometimes the belated crowd will go back to the person who passed us and shake their hand with a hearty and warm good shabbos.
The Quickie Hand Shake Combo:
Your walking down the street and suddenly your old buddy says “look who we have here”, he shakes your hand says good shabbos and is out of the scene within 5 seconds leaving you standing there wondering where he was off too and if you will ever see him again.
The Extended Hand Shake:
This is when your walking toward someone you know and he has his hand already extended- kind of like old folks that put their blinkers on about 4 blocks before their turn- although you are 30 feet away from him, a big smile is plastered on his face and the people he is walking with are already telling him that he is late. “What are you doing here?” His hand holds on to your hand for a few minutes sometimes both hands are wrapped around yours.
This is usually the opening line right after the good shabbos, then Kiddush or Uf Ruf geography might ensue while your friend tries to figure out who he knows that is attending the chasunah. These little meetings happen all over the place and are always interesting to watch how the friends of both parties shift awkwardly on their feet and wonder what to say to the other folks who are waiting for their friend. Maybe some awkward Jewish Geography about the neighborhood and then everyone gathers their nerves to ask their respective persons to continue on to shull.
Think about all those kids who are too shy or not allowed to talk to girls ever. When it comes to harassing girls using the simple utterance of “good shabbos” in a sensual or mocking tone as they pass a group of young ladies they seem to have problem locking eyes and doing their worse. These provocative good shabbos greetings happen all the time. In fact I have one friend who back in the day when he was in Israel would say “Shabutt Shalom” with motion toward the girls butt every time he passed some hotties on the streets of Jerusalem. In fact someone made a comment about this a while back and that’s what spawned the idea for this post.
I need an excuse to talk to you:
Similar in a way to the “sexual harassment good shabbos.” The excuse to talk to you- is really a great hit on chick’s line in the frum community. Personally has never worked for me- just because I cannot just hit on girls. But I have witnessed many a time when guys have merely said good shabbos and something corny like “where ya from?” and Boom they are in. This is always followed by the awkward “so…. You guys/gals wanna go hang out somewhere?”
Ever get that feeling that if you don’t say good shabbos back you are likely to end up dead in back of a shull somewhere? Ever get that feeling of cold eyes piercing through you as you pass by trying to avoid eye contact as the person says the “if you don’t respond I am going to kill you- good shabbos.” I have had a few of these in my day, sometimes good shabbos pleasantries can get downright violent.
Try saying good shabbos to women or girls in some communities and it seems like they quicken their pace as if someone was out to rape them or something. Then next thing you know, men all around you are giving you dirty looks as if to say, “didn’t you realize that those women switched sides of the street when they saw you, still you tried to initiate contact.” The person who usually committed this fatal flaw of Charediedom by attempting to say anything to a women other then, fax this, cook this or get off this side of the sidewalk is deeply frowned upon in many communities, these people who commit this crime usually do so without even realizing what grave danger they out themselves in- Riot Starters are ignorant folks who don’t know the rules of Charedi communities.
Instead of Excuse Me:
You hear footsteps in back of you as you and your friend walk down a narrow sidewalk. Suddenly, 3 people brush by you on both sides choosing to say a forced- and nasty good shabbos instead of a nice excuse me. You can feel the wind of their jackets as they pass by you in a hurry. They probably wouldnt say good shabbos, but these rusher types always feel the need to look back and see if they know the people they nearly ran over. Of course their eyes lock on and they are forced to bust out a quick “shabbos-shabbos” and be on their way.
Out of towners, Baal Teshuvas, different races and other outcasts within the frum tend to not know the extent of the hurriedness and unfriendliness of big city Jews. They are used to cities like Denver or St Louis where everyone says good shabbos and stops to talk for a bit in the street. These folks end up saying good shabbos and not receiving it in return- only to stand dumbfounded fists clenched at sides looking at the people who just passed them and wondering why they did not respond.
A good shabbos that is accompanied by giggles usually because the group of young girls wants to talk to some young looking guys but have no idea how. They say good shabbos in unison and then giggle as they run clumsily down the block and peer back at the guys who they hope are walking their way.
Do I know you?
Head is tilted in a half nod, half recognition gaze with a sort of frown on their face. Good shabbos is uttered in question form and both parties momentarily stop stare and the move on as if nothing happened. Both parties then discuss what just happened among their fellow walkers and decide if they indeed did know each other and from where.
If recognition actually does occur, there is a momentarily lapse of reason (great album by the way) And then a full onslaught of quickie Jewish geography will ensue, this always starts with “I know you” in a thick New York accent followed “oh yeh from Moshe Baruchs chasunah- I sat at your table.”
Women of course have their own way of doing things and since the last time I checked I was close but not quite yet a women I cannot bring you the scoop. However, it does seem as if women are either really cold or really warm to each other. My only chance to say good shabbos to solo women is during the walk of shame period of the time when its considered late for a man to be coming to shull and early for a women- nothing like getting disapproving looks from every women you pass eh?