Home Featured “Put ‘er there” for National Handshake Day

“Put ‘er there” for National Handshake Day

Good morning once again, folks. The weekend is nearly upon us, almost visible on the horizon. Today is Thursday, the favorite weekday of college students everywhere and just another day on the job for almost everyone else, the day before our beloved Friday. 

Today is the last day of June, but it’s also National Handshake Day. This faux-holiday is a little different from most we highlight on these posts. First of all, it’s properly named—concise, to the point, easy to understand. Secondly, while not really necessary or important in any grand sense, it’s easy to see how this one came about. A handshake is an innocuous but unavoidable social interaction.

Everyone kindergarten-aged or older gets the gist of the handshake: It’s a greeting, it’s a goodbye, it’s a signal of agreement, and it’s an unspoken contract. 

I remember learning a proper handshake as a kid. You’re supposed to be firm but not squeeze like a vice grip; use your right hand (this was the toughest rule for this lefty to learn); you’re supposed to stand up straight; you’re supposed to look the other person in the eye. Don’t hang on for too long or shake too hard. 

If someone’s handshake is weird enough, and that hand is connected to a U.S. president, you get stories like these:

Donald Trump famously used his handshakes to assert power—pulling in tight, tugging, holding on for far too long, essentially handcuffing the recipient and riding out the awkwardness until his counterpart succumbed to the loss of equal footing. His domineering shake apparently even led world leaders to strategize counterattacks

Similarly, Lyndon Johnson wrangled opposing hands into submission with his large frame, using his left hand to grip an elbow, collar, or jacket. 

Current President Joe Biden doesn’t even need a second person for a handshake. 

Having mastered the handshake long ago, the past couple years have thrown me for a loop. In the early days of the COVID pandemic, it was understood that the handshake was temporarily sidelined, replaced by the awkward wave and corresponding head nod of acknowledgement from a distance of at least six feet. In some circles, a fist bump or—I can’t believe this was a thing—elbow bump served as the shake’s substitute.

Now, with most people either vaccinated to some degree or willfully unvaccinated, I never know what to do. COVID is still a thing and some people have preexisting conditions that necessitate more caution. Do you extend the hand and just accept the rebuff if your hand is unwanted? Do you stick with the wave-and-nod maneuver, which might come off as overly cautious or even rude if the other person is cool with a handshake? Do you come out and ask, “Can we shake hands?” like some sort of alien posing as a human? Do we follow the lead of some Asian countries and bow in a show of respect? 

I have no idea. With that flawless transition completed, our handshake-themed Quote of the Day:

“Experience teaches you that the man who looks you straight in the eye, particularly if he has a firm handshake, is hiding something.” – Clifton Fadiman

Maybe it’s better off to not resurrect this custom after all.

Let’s check in with the trusty intern for today’s weather report:

At approximately 6:40 a.m., it’s currently 66 degrees outside company headquarters in Russell Springs. Intern correspondents in Jamestown and Columbia report temps of 66 and 68 degrees, respectively. Those numbers will increase throughout the day, and we’re looking at a high topping 90 degrees. No rain in the forecast.

This post is dedicated to the current year, 2022, which after today is officially one-half over

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Wes Feese is one of this company's owners and founders. He has previously worked as an editor, news reporter, sportswriter, photographer, and freelance contributor for newspapers across central Kentucky. He grew up in the Egypt community of Adair County and is a graduate of Adair County High School and Lindsey Wilson College.