Archive for July 20, 2010

The Excruciating Minutia of Daily Life

Does anybody out there ever walk? I mean like, actually walk without any destination in mind? I like to consider myself somewhat of a walking enthusiast, it’s healthy, it gets you outside, and for me, creates a myriad of awkward interactions that highlight my social ineptitude.  Here is the scenario that has me flummoxed:

I find myself on a paved walkway, happily sauntering along. It is fairly straight, with the next half-mile or so visible. Now, I notice another walker in the distance at the very fringe of the observable sidewalk, and, like always, I begin to freak out.  For you see, when passing someone on a sidewalk, it is common courtesy to at least acknowledge their existence, maybe even toss in a friendly “Hello.” Herein lies the rub: how close do you get to the person before you make eye contact? What do you say when you pass them? There are so many things that can go wrong with this interaction.

1) Do you wait till the last possible moment, gambling on the fact that maybe they already tried to look at you, but you missed it, so they write you off as a scurrilous jerk? And you, having not seen their attempt at pleasantry, think that they ignored you as well? Prognosis = Lose/Lose

2) Maybe you accidentally made eye contact when you were like 30 feet away. It is now assumed that you will exchange a greeting, but what do you look at for those 30 feet that you have left to cover? You can’t just stare at them like some slack-jawed dope until you pass, so do you just kind of look up at the sky for a little while? Check your phone? Pretend to drop your keys, and then “accidentally” kick them off the path, and “search” for them for a little while? This is the one that gives me the most problems. That weird time before you actually have to say “Hi” ends up racking me with so much tension, a sheepish nod is all I can give the other person, and then they kind of look at me like I shouldn’t be allowed in public. Prognosis = No one really loses I guess, but neither side really wins either. This would constitute a tie in my opinion.

2 1/2) And what are you supposed to say? “Hello,” “Good evening,” “Cool shorts,” “That’s a really ugly dog?” I don’t know man!

3) You see the person coming, but make no eye contact, nor do you even attest to their feeble existence.  You stand strong, looking straight ahead, and when you are approximately six feet away, look them square in the eye and boldly announce “Hello.” They do the same, and you go on your way, wondering how that guy could be sweating so much from just walking. Prognosis = Win/Win

4) Same events occur as in #3, only this time you look at them to say “Hello,” but they just look straight ahead. Who are these people?  How did McDonald’s dominate the global fast food market? By refusing to reach out and communicate with people? No way! They used low-grade meat and minimum wage! But despite the disgusting conditions of their meat packing plants,(read Fast Food Nation) they at least greet you when you come in. Prognosis = I win for trying to be nice/They lose for being a curmudgeon.

Blong. Haven’t listened to 311 in a while.

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