It Never Hurts To Say Hi

Semipalmated Plover roosting

Hello everyone! Thanks for coming around to my blog again. I’m not sure if any of you have ever experienced the state of “time flies by when you’re having fun” but that has been my state of being these last couple of days. I’ve been busy with the usual surveys and other duties at Yauina Head these last couple of days but there was an interaction that I experienced this week that I thought would be rather neat to share.

When I’m walking through the park on a roving shift or while stationed in the tidepools, I always keep in mind to say a simple “hi, how are you doing today” to anyone and everyone I meet. As you might expect, you can always rely on a 50/50 chance of either getting a response or simply moving on. For some, getting a few no responses in a row would be enough of an incentive to stop all entirely. But, it is part of the job, so quitting is not a valid option.

I’m glad that it is though. The ratio for potential outcomes never really changes but the reactions from the people you interact sure do. There have been some of these types of interactions but there was one interaction that stood out in particular.  While I was out conducting a survey, I came across someone on the trail. Out of habit and muscle memory at this point, I raised my hand for a wave and said “hello” along with a “how are you doing”.

At first they looked sort of shocked that a stranger would not only say hi but also asked how they were doing. Bear in mind that even though I was in my uniform, I wasn’t in Yaquina Head. They responded with a hello of their own and a “doing fine”. I feel as though that would have been the end of the conversation but they took a minute to ask who I was and what I was carrying (which was the spotting scope at the time). I told her that  I was an Intern for the Environment for the Americas and that I was just finishing up my survey for the day. She preceded to ask me about the program and what birds I was looking at.

For the next several minutes I talked about the the handful of semipalmated plovers that were in the area as well as the whimbrels and western sandpipers that were all foraging close by. By the end of it all she was was genuinely surprised about the amount of birds she hadn’t noticed before as well as shocked about how far shorebirds are able to travel. “I just look out and see gulls and crows most of the time. The Herons are my favorite but I never knew these little guys even existed before today”‘.

Informing people about we do doesn’t always happen on the work site or even within its time frames. You would be surprised at the number of people that appreciate learning something new. Sometimes people may seem as though they aren’t interested at first, but will surprise you on the curiosity they have about the what you do or know once you give them the opportunity. Sometimes it just takes a hello to get the conversation started.

Robert Vargas
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