I hate being in a line of people where one specific person (usually a person of importance) is shaking all of our hands. It is not due to the nasty little germs being passed on to every single person shaking hands as you might initially think. And this pet peeve does not even happen every time I am in a line of people waiting to shake hands with a single person. This annoyance, if you will, is actually completely dependent on the individual who is shaking everyone’s hand. It makes my stomach turn, my blood boil, the muscles in my neck twitch … when it is my turn to shake hands with Mr. (or Mrs.) Important and that individual is already looking on to the next person in line.
What a deflating moment.
Typically, when waiting in line to shake someone’s hand, the act of shaking this person’s hand is not a normal occurrence. Generally, anytime you wait in a line, there is something at the end of the line that makes your waste of minutes doing nothing but standing and making small talk worthwhile. If you are at an amusement park, you might wait in a 2-hour line just to ride a roller coaster. While at the grocery you wait in line at the checkout so you can have food on the table. When waiting in line with the elevator music and repetitive “Your call is important to us…” bull honky for customer support on the phone, you are hoping that the eventual person on the other end of the phone-line will be able to fix your problems. People just do not wait in line for the fun of it.
But when waiting in line to shake someone’s hand, and at that moment you finally make your way up front, and have a 1-on-1 moment with this important individual, that moment in time where this figure should have nothing else in mind other than the fact that they are shaking your hand, showing you respect by a physical greeting, and you see that they are already looking on to who the next hand will be, well that there is just contradictory and ends in disappointment.
When I shake someone’s hand, it is generally a friendly greeting. In a work setting, it might be for the reason that I have never met the person prior, or I am thanking them for work they have done. I shake their hand to be on the same level. I make eye contact throughout the handshake to show appreciation for the handshake. If a person I am shaking hands with does not return the eye contact, that means I am just another hand to them. It does not matter that I am the person the hand is attached to and it does not matter what I have done, I am just more fingers and flesh to be shaken.
OK, rant over. Maybe I put too much thought and weight into the concept of a handshake, or maybe other people don’t put in enough. But I guess that is what makes it a pet peeve.