To “Hey” or not to “Hey?”

Every school day of every year, college students must make an important choice. This decision may not decide your grades or even your future occupation, but it is something much more important and urgent than these petty things. It happens every time we pass a group of people on our way to class and we ask ourselves the question above all other questions: to “hey” or not to “hey?”

I’m sure we’ve all experienced it, that split-second decision you make when you pass someone you think you know and you’re not sure if they think they know you as well. Do you say “hey?” Do you smile? Or do you just pretend to have a sudden interest in the uneven bricks to avoid the situation all together?

The “hey” is the source of many awkward moments which define our college years. There is nothing as embarrassing as “hey-ing” (yes, English majors, I am using it as a verb) someone who doesn’t notice. On such an occasion, only the most creative minds can find a way to play off this moment. For instance, one might turn their awkward wave and “hey” into “hey…five dollars!” and point to a random spot on the ground. When everyone looks, make your exit and avoid eye contact.

However, there is always the option of continuing to scream “hey” at them until either they respond or until someone thinks you’re having an epileptic seizure and carts you away to the Health Center. And none can forget one of my favorite methods of dealing with an ignored “hey,” which is to look around innocently as if to say, “What freak just said that?”

Yes, “hey” certainly causes many unpleasant situations on the college campus. Almost as awkward as saying “hey” to someone who doesn’t respond is when someone says “hey” to you and you have no idea who they are. When this occurs, I usually pretend to be glad to see the unknown person and add a little “hey, how are you?” just to spice things up.

And even worse than seeing someone you don’t know is seeing that random person who added you on Facebook last week. I think that I’m going to petition Merriam-Webster’s to add that event as the fifth sub-point under the word “awkward.”

But just as “hey” can cause several bad situations, it causes several more good ones. The “hey” has become a status symbol, and the more people who “hey” you the more well-known on campus you have become. It’s always nice when you see a couple of familiar faces in the middle of a rough day, and just one “hey” can make you feel as if people actually care that you exist.

So next time you walk around campus, remember to occasionally remove your iPod earbuds and “hey” some friends as you walk by. And if you’re feeling a little devious and wish to see people feel really awkward, ignore it when they say it to you.

Kendra Moll is a sophomore majoring in Psychology and Religious Studies. She enjoys awkward moments, so you can “hey” her anytime. She can be contacted at