Today Anna Marie taught me a new term: “Gladhand.” Gladhand, she said, is the way a politician shakes your hand and says it is nice to meet you. They ask how you are, hoping for a sincere but short and easy answer to respond to and then they move on. It’s a pleasant enough exchange for you to vote for them and usually enough to keep you appreciating their role as an administrator (if say they are a cabinet member of a University). I can’t remember exactly how it came up in our conversation, but it has certainly stuck with me. We can gladcard someone, gladsmile, gladgreet or even gladhug someone too and I myself have been guilty of every single one of them on more than one occasion. Why do we allow it to happen and not let it frustrate us? Is it really a problem anyway? I guess we allow it to happen, or do it ourselves, because we think there are more important things to deal with than actually being sincere or caring about people individually. We think there are bigger fish to fry, or when we get into power by gladhanding we might actually affect change. Or maybe by shaking the hand of someone who is already in power we think they are, in some way, still thinking about the little man. The point at which this mindset and activity becomes a problem is when we actually believe individual sincerity isn’t important anymore. Integrity, personal touch, individual contact and accountability in relationships on a one-to-one level are lost when we think we (or others) are too important to worry about such things. I have personally thought I was too important to actually remember the names of people in the clubs I ran, too busy to really mean the hugs I was giving, too popular to actually write sincerely in the cards I gave out to others and too widely known to not smile at everyone who might have a slight chance of knowing me. In the smallest of examples, I let all of these things go straight to my head and I lost my integrity, touch, contact and accountability in a flash. The line between important people and things was blurred and gladwhatevers became more important than real reactions. Gladhanding is a new term for me, but the concept is all too old of a challenge. I hope I, and others, can get over ourselves and start to actually be real.