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Hello, Awkward Situation

November 21, 2008

by Katherine Wernet

Every time a student leaves his dorm room, he is bound to run into someone he knows. Claremont McKenna is a small school and after a few years here, one is bound to know a good portion of the student body. Walking to and from class, between the dorms, and to the dining halls provides plenty of exposure to other students. Days are filled with “hey,” “hello,” and other pleasantries. One would think that after waving to so many people for so many years, the process would be all smooth sailing. Not so. Sometimes, this everyday occurrence goes horribly awry.

One major problem many encounter is the premature wave. Greeting an acquaintance too soon can be disastrous. Although it may seem sage to acknowledge the presence of a recently made acquaintance fifteen yards out – this is simply not the case. This sort of ill-advised determinism yields only a great deal of awkward walk time. Both parties spend the time marching towards one another in an unbearable silence, studying their surroundings with previously unmatched concentration. If it is really bad, someone pulls out a phone in desperation. Eye contact is avoided at all costs until the last millisecond of the approach. At this point it is finally acceptable to once again smile awkwardly. Best to avoid this situation and feign farsightedness.

One also wants to avoid receiving waves that are not directed toward you. How often is one left flailing like a fool when the initial greeting is meant for someone else walking behind you? This can be quite the quagmire. Cheeks are ablaze and thoughts of dying in a darkened corner come to mind. Although some try to pull off the idea that they, too, are waving to another student – this rarely works. If unsure of the greeter’s intent, it is probably wise to steal a quick glance over the left shoulder.

Yet another downfall can be that of the unreturned hello. Sure, you are happy to see someone – you might even give a little hop with your wave, and you expect the other to be equally ecstatic. However, there is nothing. This person did not see you at all. He or she continues about business as usual without knowing you are even in the same time zone. There is nothing left to do but quickly assess the surroundings and hope no one saw you. Perhaps it is even best to throw in a casual “Oops, didn’t even see me.” It is not unwise to end this statement with a forced chortle and a new speed in one’s step. Get the hell out of there.

Campus can be a dangerous place. Many get hurt out there. Best to keep one’s head up, eyes open, and arm positioned for wielding. If you strike out once, there is sure to be another chance further along the sidewalk. If ever unsure of what to do, just turn around and walk as quickly as possible – maybe they didn’t see you.

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