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Next time, is it okay if I don’t say hello?

August 27, 2009

It’s common courtesy to say ‘hi’ or at least wave to people you know, even if you don’t know them that well. And, if you happen to bump right into them waiting for a train or shopping or whatever, it’s only approriate to exchange the usual ‘how are you?’s and so forth. But here’s my question, how much conversation do you really have to go through? At what point can you say ‘nice to see you’ and walk away even though you’re only moving a few metres?

Today I bumped into a guy I know from high school at the tram stop. I almost walked right into him so I had to stop and chat. It’s not that I know him well at all, I believe I only ever shared one class with him and we never sat together, but it was the polite thing to do. The only problem? Actually, there were two. The first was that I couldn’t find a way to escape and ended up having to share a tram ride with him, and second was that he was with his new girlfriend. Of course, I’d never met her.

There’s really only one word to describe what happened next: awkward. There we were, one couple and one unsuspecting girl, trapped on a half hour tram trip. After about five minutes we ran out of conversation, naturally. I could have continued to talk, but it seemed rather pointless. It was obvious they wanted to spend time alone, and I wanted to escape and start reading Zecevic V DPP. There just wasn’t a single moment though where the action would have flowed naturally. And so on the trip went, gradually getting more uncomfortable and me feeling more and more like an unwelcome third wheel. Eventually it got to the point where they were cuddling up next to each other trying to ignore me and I was frantically texting and trying to ignore them.

Oh yes, that was fun. Can I not do that again?

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