High Fives and Fist Bumps

Derek is a clerk at the gas station closest to my house. I patronize it for gas and food items weekly. I am not a patient person and going to the store is an errand that needs to be accomplished as quickly as possible. The experience should be efficient and routine:

I walk in grab a gallon of milk checking to make sure it has the best date on it. Set in on the counter and grab my card.

“Do you have a rewards card?”

“No,” as I slide my card through the reader.

“Debit or credit?”

“Credit” as I wait for the transaction to go through.

“Do you want a receipt?”


“Have a nice day.” or some other meaningless greeting as I am already heading toward the door in less than two minutes from the time I entered. When I get in my car if the same song is still on the radio I know that it was the perfect experience for the task driven person that I am.

The first time Derek ran my transaction was different. While I waited for the card to go through he said

“Free high five?” while holding up his hand.

I declined.

He continued undeterred, “fist bump?” pointing his fist toward me.

“No thanks,” smiling but still too uncomfortable making contact with a stranger.

“Elbows?” as he held out his arm towards me. I politely refused, but left feeling happy and truly appreciating his enthusiasm in what most people consider a boring job.

Every time I buy milk I find myself hoping Derek is working. I am still in a hurry, but I do give him “knuckles” now. I also have noticed that some of the other clerks are friendlier and seems like his enthusiasm has rubbed off on them. How many people look forward to seeing a store clerk?

I have a student who gives me high fives sometimes. She asks for them. Just for fun and it is her way of being cheerful. I have started giving them out to other students. It is a simple act, but they like it.

As the year winds down I find myself nagging some students to stay on task or finish work that they need to get done to earn credit. It is for their own good I tell myself, but it is not effective. It makes interactions with me unpleasant. This week I am going to give more high fives and encourage students to get stuff done in a positive way.

Like me, some students might say “no thanks” the first time, but I will keep it up to encourage them to finish strong and bring a smile to their face.

This video also influenced me in regards to this post. It is worth ten minutes of your time if you haven’t seen it.

4 thoughts on “High Fives and Fist Bumps

  1. paul bogush

    You grumpy old man 🙂

    Stand at your doorway tomorrow and give every kid a high five as they walk in…promise, you will notice a difference during class. And if you do it day after day, the energy they enter with slowly changes, and so will yours.

    1. Michael Kaechele Post author

      I always did that at my previous job. My current classroom has 4 huge sliding doors and is more of a hallway, especially with the construction going on right now. So what I am saying is that I can’t be in one place and get all 50 kids as they come in, but I can be more proactive and “work the room.”

      I spend most of breaks talking to students but it is easy to miss a student with a class as large as ours is. I just want to remind myself to connect daily with them all.

  2. Theresa

    This post initially reminded me of the first time we met face to face. I had followed you on twitter, we had some interactions, so when you were at the NST tweet up I was all …MIKE and went in for the hug…you took a step back, we didn’t REALLY know each other.
    The next time, we met you stepped into the hug too.
    That interaction with you has always reminded me to be more respectful of others personal space and made me think more deeply about introvert/extrovert personalities.
    So although not the point of your post, it did bring back that memory and the valuable learning I took away from it.
    Not all kids want a hug or even a high five, but they do want to be warmly welcomed, noticed and validated!

    1. Michael Kaechele Post author

      Thanks for sharing this. I do not remember this at all so it is interesting hearing it from your perspective. I am slightly introverted especially in new settings. I am also not a “touchy, feely” person and like my personal space.

      You do bring up an important point of respecting others space in relationship to contact. What I do like about these kind of interactions is that they do involve a human touch, but not too much to make a person uncomfortable. That said I have had students that would literally have a meltdown with any touch from a male person (it didn’t happen to me, thankfully) because of past abuse in their lives. So we always need to respect students wishes but hopefully teach them healthy, happy interactions.

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