Thursday, July 30, 2009

Then I Wake Up & Realize it Was All Just a Bad Dream

It is approximately 10 miles from my desk at work to the cafeteria... give or take a couple miles. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. In fact I enjoy a leisurely stroll every now and then to stretch my legs and get a glass of water.

There's one part of the path to the cafeteria that can be a bit awkward for a socially inept person like me. After making a couple short turns to get out of my little office area, I'm faced with a very long hallway. Not just any hallway. This hallway reminds me of the ones they show in horror movies... you know what I mean... some disheveled girl is limping down a long corridor lined with closed doors and as she runs the hallway just gets longer and longer while some crazy lunatic is at her heels trying to chop her up with an axe. Yeah, this hallway is just like that. Except worse.

Because almost every time I walk down this hallway, there is one single person walking towards me. Once this person is about 40 yards away, they're close enough to make eye contact. Do I have to maintain eye contact this whole distance? If I look away or look down, do I come off as snobbish? At what point do I smile? 20 yards? 5 feet? Do I hold the smile the whole time? The situation is escalated if it's someone I know, which is about 50% of the time. When is it appropriate to say 'hi'? I've had people say hi to me when they're oh, a good 25 yards out. Isn't that a little extreme? You can hold an entire 10 minute conversation just as you're passing!

There's probably at least a good 30% or more of you reading this that are wondering why I would ever even worry about such a thing. You're the percent of the population that would be deemed an "extrovert." You never give a second thought to these situations because they just come naturally to you. I, on the other hand, am an extremely introverted person. I worry about these things. I'm the kind of person that dreads talking on the phone, even to my own family members because I'm sure I won't have enough things to talk about and will come off as boring or disinterested. Welcome to my world. The world of a girl who is almost 30 years old and doesn't know how to walk past people in a hallway or talk on the phone.


Budsly said...

Don't worry, your not alone.I'm the exact same way. It usually happens as I'm on a walk, and I pass someone on the sidewalk. I hate it, it's awkward. I think it's even worse though if it's someone you know. Anyway, maybe you can look up "hallway etiquette" on the internet and see what it says

Paul said...

I think you should begin a habit of looking people straight in the eyes and then look away while muttering "I can't believe they're so stupid, I mean look at that shirt. Do they really think I want to see that kind of thing ..." Maybe toss in an occasional random bursting into tears and running back to your office, just to throw them off.

I also am the same way. I haven't found a good middle ground between the "serial-killer stare" and "impolite ignore". I have nothing useful to add to your situation.

heidi said...

I hate the thought that I might have... a strong Extroverted side. That hallway situation strikes me like a nice chance to give someone a great big smile. Although--the timing does feel tricky, doesn't it?

I think you should absolutely follow Paul's suggestions. I always do. It's lucky I'm still alive.


Rachel said...

I have actually thought an unnatural amount about this post, so I've decided to return to it and comment.

Glad I did, because Paul has the solution.

If it's someone I don't know:
I always stare politely into space until I'm about 10 feet away from the person. Then I attempt eye contact. If eye contact is not made after two or three seconds of trying, I will resume my polite staring into space. If eye contact is made, I will smile and say "Hi." If my greeting is not returned, I will decide that I hate them and will become angry and blink a lot.

If they are an acquaintance, I will skip the attempt at eye contact, address them by name and add an inquiry into their well-being.

If they are a friend, we would have been hollering at each other all down the hall.

Holly said...

I can completely relate to this post! I'm pretty sure I'm the most awkward person on the planet and worry all the time about my actions and conversations. My husband, the extrovert, doesn't quite understand it.