One of the more distinctive aspects of greeting people here in Jamaica is that at least at the resort I have been staying at, the employees at the hotel take their Bob Marley lyrics pretty seriously. The standard way of greeting that I have seen from restaurant staff and those who clean the rooms has been to say “One Love” with the right hand flat on the heart. As a student of communication, I tend to enjoy thinking about how it is that people like to great each other, as this is a way of greeting that I have not done before but which is certainly pleasant to me, and certain something I respond to when the staff greets me that way.
In looking at greetings, I can think of a great many ways that I have greeted others and have been greeted. Sometimes a nod of the head or a slight vocal acknowledgement is sufficient. Sometimes there is a raising of the eyebrows or a conspiratorial glance. At times, especially with smaller people, there is a rush to tightly hug or try to jump to climb, a somewhat aggressive greeting. With others there are fist bumps or elbow bumps or bro hugs or side hugs or squeezes of the shoulder or upper arm, or pats on the head, or something else of that sort. As human beings there is a great way to communicate with others, and it is quite possible that all of them have some sort of significance to the people who give them. My own attitude is that I tend to mirror the sorts of greetings of those around me, as my own native greetings are rather restrained nods of the head, waves, and raised eyebrows, unless I know someone rather well.
Excerpt from “Multipians: A Field Guide”
In my observation of the Multipian people, it seems as if the people has been formed in deep isolation. Each Multipian is a world unto oneself, perhaps even a galaxy or universe unto oneself. This manifests itself in striking ways. When one is watching the behavior of these people even in their capital city, surrounded by crowds, one sees them together alone, contentedly watching each other in individuals or in small groups talking with people one knows. This is not due to any sort of lack of interest in other people, but rather the difficulty that Multipians have in reaching out across the abyss that separates them from others. This marked tendency must have something to do with what appears to be a peasant background.
Multipians, even urban ones, will pronounce a blessing upon the flocks and families of their friends and acquaintances. And they are intensely curious about others, as each Multipian seems like a native-born researcher, curiously asking questions about all manner of things of the other person, talking about their own lives and interests, and frequently adding each other as friends of a sort when there is a shared passion for some aspect of culture. They greet each other in innumerable ways, with hugs, kisses on the cheek, a pat on the arm or shoulder, a pat on the back, a squeeze of the waist, a firm handshake, sometimes of an elaborate kind, fist and elbow bumps, not even taking into account the shy or friendly wave or the ubiquitous nod of the head for mutual acknowledgement, or sometimes more than one of these greetings in baffling combinations. It is impossible to fully know what all of them mean, and it is not as if the Multipians themselves understand why it is they greet each other as they do.