I have a confession to make.
Sometimes when I unexpectedly see someone I know, I put my head down and walk in the other direction.
For all my talk of making new friends, there are times when all I want to do is run an errand and come home. Or to be anonymous and have no one see my no-makeup, frizzy-haired, mismatched-shorts-and-t-shirt self.
It’s not that I would ever be purposefully rude. It’s just that if I didn’t expect to run into any familiar faces, sometimes I’m not in the right mindset. Or the best physical state.
Just this afternoon I ran into a classmate from my high school days in the airport. It was totally random that we would see each other in Logan airport, as we’re both from New York and now he lives in L.A. and I live in Chicago. But we both have family in Cape Cod, so there we were, catching up at the food court. Not having planned to do much socializing during my travels, I wasn’t looking my hottest. But more importantly, I hadn’t really turned “on” yet. Regardless, we caught up briefly, met each others’ significant others, and went our separate ways.
In this case we both spotted each other in the same moment and made eye contact, so there was no avoiding chit chat. And I’m happy to have talked, because this old friend and I had actually been in touch recently via Facebook. But had it been just about any other old classmate (at least one not in my grade, as was the case here), and I would have very likely stared purposefully at the floor and gunned for the gate.
All this said, I must give myself a virtual pat on the back for getting better about these hellos in the first place. Back before I started friendsearching, I was most definitely the “pretend not to see you” type. I kept to myself when on the go. These days I really will talk to anyone, and often the “is it you?” comes out before I’ve consciously decided that I’m going to talk to whichever familiar face crosses my path.
I’ll also say that, in the past, when I’ve chosen to pretend not to see a familiar face, I’m quite sure that said face hasn’t spotted me. That way we avoid awkwardness. Which is, you know, my lifelong goal.
The best was the summer Matt and I first moved to Chicago. I was short on friends and was in between jobs. I was always on the lookout for familiar Northwestern folks, so clearly I noticed when an acquaintance (is there a middle ground between friend and acquaintance? This guy would be it) came ambling toward me when I was out doing errands. Being in need of friends, and having made eye contact, I got ready to say hello. And, just as he approached me, this guy put his head down and started whistling.
Whistling! As if his jovial tune was going to convey that he was so caught up in the blue skies and happy days that he hadn’t seen me directly in his line of sight.
I wasn’t offended. I was entertained. It struck me as hilarious that this guy resorted to a movie-style whistle to get out of a quick catch up and perhaps some small talk when he had so clearly spotted me. But I couldn’t hold it against him. I’d been known to try something similar. Sans whistle, of course.
These days I try to go out of my way and say hello, as you really never know who your next BFF will be. But I’m not gonna lie, I’m not perfect. Some days I just hide under some frizzy hair and go on my way.
What about you? Do you ever put your head down and speed up when you recognize someone from afar? Or are you far far friendlier than I?