Saying “goodbye” can be awkward, because it’s hard to choose what the appropriate form of farewell is. In the US, you have three different options and that’s already too many.
Type 1 – If it’s family or good friends, you probably hug.
Type 2 – If it’s a more professional relationship or someone you just met, you might shake hands.
Type 3 – If it’s somewhere in between those, you might bring out the awkward wave (my personal favorite).
Travelers tend to meet a lot of people. They could be your roommates, people you met out in the common area of a hostel or at some social event. You could have been with them as little as one breakfast sitting, or maybe they’ve been your “explore the city buddy” for the past few days. You’ve exchanged emails or are now Facebook BFFs and are about to head your separate ways. As I said previously, I already have three possible goodbye options, but I’m really in trouble when traveling internationally. For instance, Dutch people kiss three times alternating cheeks. Hispanic people often do the same, but only twice. It has also become trendy, in some places, to say hello and goodbye with one cheek kiss. Other cultures value their personal space and don’t want touching to be involved at all.
I have an outstanding ability to be clumsy and awkward whenever possible, so that’s just too easy of a set up for something embarrassing to happen. When someone steps towards you to say bye, are they coming in for a hug or a predetermined set of cheek kisses? How many cheek kisses? On what side do you start the cheek kissing process? You know the awkward dance people do when they’re passing in a hallway and they keep trying to let the other one pass? Then it turns into some sort of really klutzy waltz. Now imagine that in even closer range, but with only your faces as you try to kiss the other persons cheek. It’s the stuff of nightmares.
Can someone with more authority than I possess please come up with some sort of internationally accepted, general goodbye?? I suppose it couldn’t hurt to just ask, “How do they typically say goodbye where you’re from?” but that’s just too sensible.
Am I the only one who’s felt this way before?? Tell me your stories!
Try going to Japan and add the bowing option to the mix….Do I bow, or do I shake hands, or do I do both..??? Awkward.
I’m also a big fan of the awkward hug hello, because then you have to sit around, all aware of how awful it was, trying to think of things to say to move you past the experience.
Haha. You know, that’s a very good point. At least with goodbyes you get to run away after the awkwardness!
But the awkward wave is a definite win.