Why Do We Have to Say the Customary “Hey!” to People Every Day

Who invented the words “Hey!” and “Hello!” to greet someone?

4 min readApr 27


Photo by croft alexander from Pexels

Rachel, my teammate, came to the office, walked past my desk, and sat next to me in the cubicle. She looked at me as I looked at her. It was a bit early for her liking to be in the office. It was 10 a.m. She didn’t want to be there. She couldn’t even fake it. I wouldn’t blame her. It was Monday. You’re wholeheartedly excused if you can’t fake it on Monday. It’s an unwritten rule.

As we kept looking at each other for a few microseconds, there came the tricky part. The tricky part? Who is going to say the fake greeting word first — “Hey!” What could possibly be so tricky about it? I was already sitting there in our office. I came before her. That counts for something, surely.

I’m not going to tell her “Hey!” first. She should tell me. It’s an unwritten rule. Then I’ll tell her “Hey!” back. I kept looking at her because I didn’t want her to think I was ignoring her upcoming “Hey!”. That would be rude. I’m not rude. I can’t be rude. I once tried to be rude. Rude doesn’t suit me.

She kept looking at me because she was waiting for me to say “Hey!” first. She was messing with the wrong person. She was getting nothing from me. In fact, if I said “Hey!” first, that would be rude. I could be labeled as a prima donna. I can’t be a prima donna.

Something suddenly dawned on her that she was messing with the wrong person. Without much enthusiasm, she said “Hey!” to me. Now, how hard was that, Rach? I said “Hey!” back within a nanosecond. You don’t wait even for a second to say “Hey!” back to someone who reluctantly said “Hey!” to you.

It would be rude if you wait for more than a second. One second is the cut-off time. Your “Hey!” back should sound like you already had “Hey!” in your mouth readily and you were only waiting for them to say “Hey!” first — because you were.

She and I both knew we didn’t mean our “Hey!” It was merely customary “Hey!” Who made this customary? Granted, it’s an unwritten rule, but why? What’s the point of saying “Hey!” when both parties are looking for others to say it first? Even if we did mean our “Hey!” wholeheartedly, it doesn’t mean anything.




Humorist | Absurdist | Naval Architect ⛵️