We’ve all been there: that awkward moment when you run into someone you know, and aren’t sure whether to stop and say hi.
Your good manners tell you to make small talk, but all you really want to do is run the other way.
This happened to me just the other day. I was walking with my friend when I spotted a guy I knew from university. He was running, presumably with his girlfriend, which I thought meant I was off the hook. I know from experience that it’s virtually impossible to carry on a conversation while running- just ask those Amnesty International kids that try to engage my panting, tomato-face.
But man, was I mistaken. Homeboy acted like seeing me was the highlight of his freaking day (let’s be honest- it probably was). He waved enthusiastically, and attempted to engage me while jogging on the spot. I didn’t really feel like catching him up on the past 8 years of my life, but then again, I didn’t want to be rude. So I slowed down into a sort of backwards half-walk, and after about 20 seconds, gesticulated that I needed to run. I even made the universal “let’s grab a drink soon!” sign.
Like a bad date, the entire experience left me feeling overstimulated, yet also unfulfilled. It occurred to me then that what the world really needs are a set of universal guidelines for situations like these. Maybe, dare I say, a FLOWCHART?
Say no more!
The flowchart I’ve created relies on a number of foundational principles which inform each decision to engage in conversation. These include:
- Sexual History (do you know this person in the biblical sense?)
- Closeness of Relationship (“How tight are y’all?”)
- Location of the Interaction (“Is there time to flee?”)
- The likelihood this person will tell others and make you look bad if you ignore them (“Is this person a snitch?”)
Based on your answers to these questions, there are five potential outcomes:
- “Don’t even stress” – go on your merry way, no need to acknowledge this person whatsoever
- “Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That” – Make a U-turn and run the other way. NOW.
- “Holla At Your Girl” – engage this person in conversation unless you are a complete a$$hole.
- “Smile, Wave, and Keep On Walking” – nuff said.
- “Say hi, then make up an excuse to leave”
This last one is the most complicated. While it may sound easy, making up an excuse on the spot can often be difficult and rife with potential awkwardness.
Never fear- there’s an app for that!
Fake Conver is a free app that allows you to receive fake calls to your iPhone with the quick touch of a button. You can also choose from a library of excuses in advance- just answer your phone and repeat what the recording says.
Or if avoiding people all together is more your style, there’s also Cloak, the self-described “anti-social network” that uses the GPS on your Instagram, Foursquare, Facebook, and Twitter feeds to show you where all your friends are on the map so you can avoid them completely.
And, if all else fails, there’s always this face: