Handling handshakes from strangers...?

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You gotta size people up quickly. Indiana, being neither North or South, East or West is not quite as open and friendly a place as down south. A century of factory work I suppose. As such, folks around here, in general, offer a handshake when there is good cause to do so and in general folks all kinda get what good cause is. So if you are pumping gas as in the OP's post, and somebody walks up offering a hand, it is something out of the ordinary for general Hoosier manners. If for example, this guy turns out to be a long lost friend, in general, if he's a Hoosier, he's going to make sure you realize he's a long lost friend before he offers his hand...he's not going to lead with that.

So basically, in a setting like that where nobody reasonable would expect to be offered a handshake, I have never found one to be fully on the up and up. Somebody wants something that you are not offering, or is offering something that you have not solicited.

So, no, I don't shake hands with stangers in settings that would not warrent a handshake within the normal social paradigms.
Somebody wants something that you are not offering, or is offering something that you have not solicited.

Not a bad quote. Could apply to numerous things in life... ;)
I never had a stranger just want to come up to me on the street and want to shake my hand. For the record I have lived in Baton Rouge 8 years, Louisville 2 years and Memphis 2 Years.
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Generally speaking it's not a good idea to shake hands with a stranger on the street. Better to appear ill mannered than to find yourself regreting it.
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At 6'4" 250# camo hat, weathered face and full beard, I don't tend to attract too many hand shake offers, at best I get addressed from a distance, I then just put on my "game face" look them in the eye and say nothing, they usually get the idea.

I know that sounds like I may be unsociable, but trust me, anyone that knows me will tell you that I am a good guy and a big teddy bear.
I know that sounds like I may be unsociable, but trust me, anyone that knows me will tell you that I am a good guy and a big teddy bear.
There's absolutely nothing wrong with being unsociable to people unlikely to bring anything good into your life.

One of my cousins in Chicago is extremely religious. She always stops and gives money to bums. I fear that one day that's going to cost her dearly.
Do Not Hesitate and Do Not Delay

My practice when I have become alerted is to politely, clearly, firmly, with adequate volume and command presence is: order the stranger to "Move Along, Sir"

Then without delay, change to an evasive direction.
My rules:

1) Family/friends get hugs at zero distance
2) Acquaintances get a handshake at arms length
3) Strangers are tolerated and respected at socially accepted distances (for me) about 10 feet. Strangers who step-up on me quickly, or exceed the 10 foot rule to panhandle are simple advised, "Man, you don't wanna step-up on me!"

I know it sounds harsh, but Detroit can be a harsh city, and I don't usually have anything I can give them anyhow. About 5 years back, there was a nice man who opened the door as I entered the gas station. Then, he follows me inside. He was very polite. As I paid for my gasoline, he stated to me that "...he hadn't eaten in three days...". I looked to him and said, "Times can be rough. Pick whatever food you want. Open it here in my presence so I know you eat it, and don't return it for the cash. I will pay the cashier for you, and God bless you, friend!"

He told me, "No man, tha's junk food! I need real food! Can you spot me 5?"

I told him, "Look, there's a McDonalds across the street. You walk over. I'll go to the drive through, order and pay. I will direct the attendant to give you the meal at the counter...they have some healthy foods too, not just junk."

He answers, "No man, that's junk. I need some food from down the street."

I look to him and resort, "Man, you don't fool me. You want the money for cigarettes, booze or drugs, and I'm not supporting your habit. If you want a meal, I will make sure you eat. I will never let a man go hungry. Otherwise, you now need to step outta my space."

He stepped aside, and I left. That was the last time I entertained one of these clowns. The last one who walked up on me heard, "Man, you don't wanna step up one me! I got nothin' for you!"

I hate to be rude, it is not in my nature. But my life, my health. I worry less than many because not only do I CCW 24/7, but I have been a professionally licensed martial arts instructor for a bit over 30 years. But, times is getting uglier.

This is where being a martial artist pays off. Getting somebody in the "handshake" position gives you complete control over them. The system of chin na (joint locking) is very effective and can be acquired quickly as an add-on to your repertoire.

When you are in the "handshake" position, you can feel the other person's intention, balance, and basically you're getting all kinds of useful information. Lock down the grip, turn and he's in an arm bar, and other moves as well. The video linked gives you a small sample.

I would advise against standing joint locks. In my experience, while they are certainly effective, they are what i categorize as low percentage moves. they work, just not often enough to risk losing positional dominance and risk disarmament.

I would however recommend a handshake for arm drag, which is a very high percentage move which will give you positional dominance. there is a whole series of moves from there that put you in a place to deliver a world of hurt if the need arrives without having to go to the ground.

I am also, no royce gracie, but I did learn a few things from him and his students.
Even as a Minster I don't shank hands with people on the street anymore; The respect I used to get as being a man of the Cloth no long apply. The times have changed and I don't want to have to hurt someone. :( Be smart and trust your inner alarms.

I don't readily shake hands with a stranger. I feel out the situation first, especially if this person comes out of nowhere. I treat door-to-door soliciters the same -- or even worse, depending on what time they show up.

When dealing with strangers, I am accutely aware that hand-shake range is hand-to-hand combat range -- and I adjust my awareness and tactics accordingly.

For those of you who think this mentality is too cumbersome, or that it is somehow "rambo" in nature... think again. The almost effortless behaviors of maintaining a basic level of alertness and avoiding situations of disadvantage are, believe it or not, as much second nature to human beings as any other creature. How do you think we got here?

Choosing NOT to exhibit these behaviors is counter to evolution, and the factors of reality in the modern "just as dangerous, if not more so" world. Looking out for yourself and your family is not, by any stretch of the imagination "rambo." It's just responsibility and common sense. Anything less, in my not-so-humble opinion, is foolish and irresponsible, at best.

Stay Alert -- Stay Alive
I've had a bully in a business situation try to crush my hand.
Fortunately, i was alerted by my co-worker who had commented, "Wow, that's quite a grip!" as he was being crushed.

lol so what happened afterwards?

Did you guys get the contract? sale? eh?
Yeah, it seemed a little over the top to treat a business associate that way.... lol... there must be something we don't know....

I have yet to pull a weapon on someone for shaking my hand too hard.... but maybe I'm just an old softy by todays standard.
Yeah - push someone onto his car and pull a knife on him? And he's the bully? There's gotta be more to the story there, heh.
I would however recommend a handshake for arm drag, which is a very high percentage move which will give you positional dominance. there is a whole series of moves from there that put you in a place to deliver a world of hurt if the need arrives without having to go to the ground.

And that's fine. I would not advocate going to ground. We're on the same page. What the majority here are not understanding is that getting a hold on the person means you are in control. With Chin Na, you can take a person apart - no handgun required. Here's an easy demo.

These are very easy to learn. Very quick. If someone wants to shake hands with you, they are giving you complete and total control.
Sneeze on your hand right as he gets to you
Ha ha ha! Just make sure you have a handkerchief on you somewhere . . .

Not a handshake approach, but I had this happen to me on the streets of downtown Cleveland, at about midday.

I'm walking along the sidewalk and pass a bar; there are two men out front, one lying face-down on the sidewalk, not moving, the other kind of hovering over him, acting drunk. As I approach, I look at them, but keep walking. Then the one calls out to me to help him pick his friend up. I look over at them again, the guy keeps asking me to help. My instincts didn't like it. I said, "Um, you better leave him there, if you pick him up he'll just fall down again." I continued on my way purposefully, and he gave up.

Might have been just as described, but then, I could have been quickly mugged by two men.
H1N1 and questionable bathroom habits are enough reason to avoid handshaking strangers---nasty!!!

Avoid at all costs unless you know em.
Gee, I musta had it backward...

"If it's some young, clean shaven kid with a North Face backpack handing out pamphlets for Greenpeace I'm going to be a lot more open to normal social interactions than if he smells like bad whiskey and body odor and is dressed in filthy clothes. You can usually tell when someone's up to no good, either because they're obvious about it or they're trying too hard to not be obvious about it."

I been dissin the eco-geeks and watchin the "smelly guys" looking for my buds!:evil:
If your situational awareness is so poor that you have allowed someone to get to contact distance without assessing whether or not they are a threat, the question of whether or not to shake hands is somewhat moot.

I rarely refuse a handshake.
I find some interesting regional variations in some of the phrases that essentially mean 'go away kid, ya bother me,' 'leave me alone' etc.

In this particular NC county where I live, the operative phrase is "Today is NOT the day." Not the day to bother me, not the day to talk to me, not the day to ask me for money, a favor or a ride or whatever. It doesn't mean that it might not work some other day, but it is completely understood by the locals that if someone says "Today is not the day," that's it- end of conversation.

But then, there are the folks hereabouts who are not local, since this is a university town and students come in from all over... and they don't speak Lumbee :D.

I've never enjoyed handshaking because I am somewhat of a germaphobe. So, I use diversionary tactics to sort of change the subject and get the other person to forget about the handshake. I might offer a verbal greeting instead, ask them how they are doing or make some other off comment. I might also put both of my hands to use, ex: almost dropping something. Though sometimes people are so creepy I just stare at them and offer a curt hi.

I do not recommend shaking the hand of any o'l stranger at the gas pump. You are just opening up yourself to get mugged and at the very least some nasty germs. When people do not play by cultural standards you should not either. They want to shake your hand for no good reason, therefore you do not have to offer a shake.

Do be aware how this may set some of the crazies off though, in which case use your verbal judo to de-escalate.
Ben86 said:
Do be aware how this may set some of the crazies off though, in which case use your verbal judo to de-escalate

That's one of the things that I think about..... I have seen friends go to fisticuffs over someone not shaking someone elses hand... (yeah, I grew up in a strange place).... I could totally see someone using that as justification for escalating a situation.... but I guess that is moot because that is DEFINITELY NOT the stranger you want to be shaking hands with.... so, if you refuse and they get irate, well, you can be sure you made the right choice....
Understand also that a lot of them realize that you don't want to shake their hand for good reason. They know this. They know it's weird unless they are mentally challenged. Some of them will get pretend mad/annoyed to get you to drop your guard and act submissive to appease in further effort to get close. Do not allow this.

Yes, I have much experience pumping gas at odd hours, unfortunately. :) I learn something from every single encounter, not matter how small.
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