It’s the most uncomfortable moment of your day. You’re walking past the Sunken Garden on your way home from History of Anthropological Theory when out of the corner of your eye, you see someone walking in your direction. You quickly glance up and panic strikes — it’s the guy or girl who sits behind you in your lecture.
Now normally, this wouldn’t be too terrifying an event. But you have encountered a situation that can turn even the most suave among us into the proverbial deer in headlights: the awkward walk-by greeting with that person you sort-of, kind-of know.
Your brain goes into full panic mode. Do you pretend to not even see them? Did they see that you saw them? Should you stop and say hello, or seem busy and keep walking? And where for the love of God is your phone so you can pretend like you’re texting?
Well, my friends, fear not, for I am here to provide you with the right moves for any walk-by greeting situation, guaranteed to make sure you don’t end up babbling in front of Barrett Hall like an idiot.
Situation One: The cute girl from your lecture is walking towards you. You’ve already made eye contact, so there’s no turning back at this point. You know her name; she might not know yours. What do you do?
Answer: You can’t fake like you didn’t see her, so you may as well wave from far away. This eliminates that uncomfortable tension, and makes you seem cheerful. When she gets closer, play it off like you’re struggling to find her name. “You are … Sarah, right?” You make her feel special while still playing it cool like you haven’t been fantasizing about her every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 2 to 2:50 p.m.
As for conversation, try ragging on the professor. Is it fair? Probably not, but it will instantly give you something to talk about. “Isn’t Professor Smith so boring?” It’s a time-honored tradition: Make fun of those who aren’t there to defend themselves. This should provide you with about 30 seconds of material, just enough to allow you a smooth escape with, “Well, I’m supposed to be meeting a friend, but I’ll see you in class.” Boom. Like a pro.
Situation Two: Your arch-nemesis — and if you have one at 20 years old, reevaluate your life — is quickly approaching. You’ve made eye contact — shit! — and it would be too obvious if you suddenly changed your direction. What do you do?
Answer: Lie your ass off. We’re assuming you can’t find your phone to fake a phone call, but that doesn’t mean you can’t fake a friendship. Just when the crucial moment is about arrive when you have to either say hello or punch them in the face, look directly over their shoulder — hopefully toward a group of people — and shout a name. Any name. Heck, try your own name. That ought to confuse them. The point is, it will imply that you’re getting the attention of a friend, and while this will draw attention from other people, your enemy will not want to appear like a creeper by turning around to look.
Then you slink away, suddenly wishing you were popular enough to actually have friends around.
Situation Three: The douchebag from your freshman hall is swaggering toward you, Von Dutch hat cocked at an angle you could carve a roast on, Ed Hardy T-shirt giving the finger to good taste. He’s seen you and already has one arm out, ready to elaborately dap you up in a handshake only he thinks is cool. What do you do?
Answer: Run. Who cares about how bad it looks; that guy’s the worst!
So there you have it, three fail-safe escape plans to handle even the most awkward of social situations with grace and panache. Don’t be afraid to cross our beloved campus, and remember: No one will interrupt you if you’re texting. Trust me.
__Jason Rogers is a Flat Hat Confusion Corner columnist he fully supports faking phone calls to get out of actually talking to people.__