S0: you’re out for a stroll with your thoughts, cupping a hot bevvie between your palms and planning that suggestive opening line you’re going to use on that cute guy from marketing at the Christmas Party (“Have you been naughty or… very naughty?” – you’re still workshopping it, don’t worry). Suddenly, you look up and catch a glimpse of a semi-familiar head bobbing up and down in the distance, headed your way. No! Nonono! Nonononono! The world slows down as you tighten your grip and draw your half-sweet, pumpkin-spiced goodness closer to your chest, as it is now in danger of being tainted by the possibility of sharing inconsequential pleasantries with another human being. Let’s face it, nothing in this world is worse than running into someone on the street that you’d rather not talk to. Nothing. Not a thing is worse than that.
You have several options to make certain that you will avoid a conversation with the heinous individual so unforgivably selfish as to accidentally cross paths with you, and today of all days (any day, really, go away everyone):
1. Music Appreciation
Have headphones in? You’re lucky. Pretending to be super “into” your music can sometimes be enough of a deterrent to stave off a casual hello. Keep in mind, however, that for more persistent personality types, the fact that you’re listening to music is but a minor obstacle. Should you elect this course of action, you may want to enhance its potency by flailing your arms rhythmically or chanting lyrics out loud. Feel the groove.
2. Sudden Change of Direction
Although difficult to execute convincingly, you can pull this off. This involves an imperceptibly quick change of focus – consider shifting your body in a completely different direction – and the acting capabilities to fool everyone around you into believing you are so genuinely interested in this new found source of intrigue that you must head over to investigate (if there is any kind of dog around, you’ve just won the lottery, pal). Use your finger to point at that man on unicycle/brown pigeon/turban sale for added conviction.
3. The Nod and Trod
Already made eye contact? DON’T PANIC. Smile. Acknowledge the other person (somewhat counter-intuitive considering the circumstances, but bear with me). Keep walking. Yes, keep walking! Go! Don’t stop! Simple and diplomatic, the most essential element of the Nod and Trod is to maintain your speed. Do NOT speed up. Quickening your pace will give the impression you are rushing forward for an enthusiastic greeting – a misstep that will result in 60-120 seconds of uncomfortable conversation.
Although not a requirement for successful execution, The Nod and Trod is most satisfying when exchanged between two individuals who share a mutual understanding that neither party feels like interacting (social jackpot).
4. Contemplative Concentration
Sorry, no time for a chat, I’m thinking reeeeaaaal hard about my existence right now. What does it all meeeeaaaaan? Socks and sandaaaals??? In winter??
5. The Fake Phone Call
Everyone knows you can’t possibly hang up the phone once you’re already mid-phone call! Hold your vintage Blackberry to your ear while mouthing “hi” and pointing helplessly to the phone. If you’re feeling bold, consider using hand gestures to indicate that whoever you’ve got on the other line is a real Chatty Kathy. I personally like making the “yap yap yap” sign while rolling my eyes, but you could also try out the ‘Yawn’ (fanning your hand over your mouth in mock boredom), or the ‘One Sec’ (momentarily pulling the phone away from your ear to say a quick hello with enough urgency to indicate that you must get back to your phone call). The effectiveness of this method depends entirely on your commitment to non-verbal communication.
BONUS: A good old-fashioned Purse Rummage is always a favourable standby. Listen, you’re carrying a bag on your shoulder that is essentially filled with garbage (don’t pretend I’m wrong). Use this to your advantage and spend a cool 3-5 minutes looking for a bobby pin.
Once you’ve chosen the method that fits best, feel proud of yourself for taking charge of something that would have otherwise caused medium to mild discomfort. This is the first of what will undoubtedly be many instances in which you empower yourself to avoid addressing things directly, until one day you find yourself miming “Sorry I’m on the phone” to your boyfriend when he asks you how your day was. Life really can be so beautiful.