Awkward? No thanks.

January 14, 2009 — by Kirstie Lee
Lee Kirstie 12

Senior Kirstie Lee

I would say that I’m pretty good at making most situations not awkward. I just talk incessantly, regardless of whether the other person can keep up with my fast-paced talking. If I’m placed in a situation where there are potential awkward silences, I’ll talk myself out of them. But there are a few situations when I can’t use words as my scapegoat.

1. Seeing teachers outside of school.

Once I saw a teacher at Safeway and paused, wondering what I should do. I was alone, so I had no peer student to tag-team for a bit of small talk. I couldn’t babble on about my current craving for Goldfish to a teacher, as I would have with anyone else, so I found myself deciding to avoid the situation altogether. I saw which section she went to shop for groceries next, and then I steered myself in the complete opposite direction. I mean, what are you supposed to do in these situations anyway? “Hey Mrs. Smith, it’s good to see you! (It’s really not—stay in school, where you belong!) I’m so glad that test is over (not really, because I know I failed), now I have a whole weekend to myself (except not, thanks to your five-page homework assignment).”

2. Elevator Rides.

The whole affair is quite an uncomfortable experience. An excruciatingly long three minutes, trapped in a tiny, enclosed space with a stranger I’ll never see again in my life, while I clear my throat both unnecessarily and uncomfortably, and wait until the elevator finally emits that “ding” of freedom, stepping forward, excited to leave the cage, only to find the other person stepping forward at the same time and so I pause, only to find him pause as well, so I step forward but find him stepping forward as well, and the dance continues until I finally decide to just be rude and cut him off.

3. Waiting for someone at a restaurant.

When I arrived at a restaurant where I had planned to meet a friend, I saw that I had arrived first. So I sat myself down at a table far from other bodies in the restaurant, afraid for too close of a distance from people who were laughing and talking with friends—something I was lacking at the moment. I take my phone out to have something to stare at when the waiter comes up to me and asks me if I’d like to order. “Oh no,” I tell him, “I’m waiting for someone.” He nods politely, but comes back 10 minutes later when I am still, quite alone. “He’s still coming,” I assure the waiter. Then, of course, my friend cancels on me, and I’m forced to walk out of the restaurant alone. As I open the door to let myself out, I pause for a second, debating whether to stick my head back in there and swear in desperation that I am not the poor, friendless creature they perceive me as.

4. Walking toward an acquaintance.

You know when you see someone you know down the hall, or run into someone at Blockbuster who you kind of know but aren’t exactly friends with? Whether it be your lab partner in chemistry, your sister’s best friend or your math tutor, you wave to them while you’re both 20 feet apart and the other waves back. Then you pause for a second, wondering what to do next. Yelling “SO WHAT’RE YOU UP TO?” down the way is a bit out of the question, and you continue walking toward your destination, all the while knowing that you’re only drawing nearer to the other person. What are you supposed to do when you finally cross them? Wave again? Give them a hug? Ignore them completely?

But I’ve found a solution to all these situations. I bought extremely fat headphones that give me the appearance of being a bit on the antisocial side. What can I say, I like my music. However, it’s proved more useful than merely providing good bass. It makes me seem like I’m in my “zone” (or whatever you call it), too absorbed in my music to notice anything that’s going on around me. So, moral of the story: awkward situations? Avoid them altogether.

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