I missed a perfectly good opportunity to acknowledge someone else's humanity today.
I was just getting home from therapy, and there was a man, from the cable company, repairing the wires on the outside of our house. I thought about waving to him, as I walked inside. Just a friendly wave and smile.
Instead, I walked inside, keeping my head slightly down.
I've got some great rationalizations for it. I didn't want to risk the awkwardness of waving, then not being sure if he saw me -- or, what if he waved after I waved, but I wasn't sure he'd seen the first wave? Surely it would be even worse to give the impression of deliberately snubbing him than it would to just not wave in the first place.
One of my best friends and I often argue about the value of small talk, and polite conversation with strangers. I think this instance is a fairly strong point in her case: my inability to gracefully interact with strangers cost a chance to acknowledge another human being's personhood.
It's a small thing, certainly, but as a repair guy I'm sure he already gets plenty of people treating him like an object, there to do a job and disappear into the aether. On level, I'd have rather contributed to the group of people who acknowledge him as a human, instead.