The Complete Guide To Running Into People

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:

  1. Sexual History (do you know this person in the biblical sense?)
  2. Closeness of Relationship (“How tight are y’all?”)
  3. Location of the Interaction (“Is there time to flee?”)
  4. 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:

  1. “Don’t even stress” – go on your merry way, no need to acknowledge this person whatsoever
  2.  “Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That” – Make a U-turn and run the other way. NOW.
  3. “Holla At Your Girl” – engage this person in conversation unless you are a complete a$$hole.
  4. “Smile, Wave, and Keep On Walking” – nuff said.
  5. “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.


iPhone Screenshot 1

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.

iPhone Screenshot 1


And, if all else fails, there’s always this face:

Question of the Day: What is your strategy for running into people?


11 thoughts on “The Complete Guide To Running Into People

Add yours

  1. Luckily, I’m usually the one that people want to avoid so they almost always pretend to not know me and use the U-turn technique, but in the unlikely event that someone actually wants to talk to me, I am the quick excuse guy. “My wife is waiting for me” is all I usually ever need.


  2. I’ve pretty well mastered “duck & avoid”…or maybe they’re avoiding me and that’s why I’m so good at it! Ah…

    I “duck & avoid” solicitors at the door too…even if they’ve seen me. I feel guilty…but not guilty enough to answer the door. We got new blinds so I can pull down the top to let light in but maintain privacy. It’s awesome!!!

    Love, love, love the flow chart!!!!!!


    1. Ducking is also a great method. Sometimes I employ that on the subway where there’s really nowhere to run. I either try to hide myself behind a pole, or cover my face with a free newspaper.


  3. I feel this way when I see people I know, although all I really want is to be acknowledged, I don’t need to start a conversation. I think some people don’t know that and completely ignore because they worry I might want a conversation? I don’t know. A smile and nod is fine, but it does depend on how well I know them. 😛


    1. I know- it’s kind of funny because even if I don’t want to talk to them, I still might get annoyed if they totally ignored ME. We all secretly want to be acknowledged eh lol


  4. I am so bad about this. My Inner Introvert takes over. I never know how to handle it… Properly.

    Another avenue on your guidelines above: Are they cute? Yes / No ….What am I wearing?…do I still have time to suck in my gut before I make contact? ~Great stuff Breezy!


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