Hi, my name is Kaelly Welsh and I suffer from a disease called “run as fast as you can when you see someone in public you know.”
OK, well it's not a real disease, but it is a real problem that I actually have. Now, to clarify, I should mention that I always say hi to close friends in public, but it's the acquaintances I have a problem with. You know, the classmates you haven't talked to in years, or that one boy that you had a three-hour conversation with when you were out one night, but never heard from again. Then of course there's the people from your hometown who you know everything about, but just aren't friends with.
You see, there are two kinds of people in the world: people like my mother, who will say hi to you even if she only met you once in a line for a ride at Disney World on a Tuesday afternoon 17 years ago, and people like me, who will literally turn and run the other direction if I see you in public.
I don't have a problem talking to people. In fact, I'm super outgoing, but small talk is one of my least favorite things of all time, so I avoid it at all cost, which, naturally, means avoiding the majority of familiar faces in public as well.
Here are seven things you can do when you see someone in public, instead of stopping to say hello:
1. Pretend someone is calling you and “answer” the phone.
If we're going to be honest here, I do this even when I'm just surrounded by strangers. Sometimes pretending like I'm not alone is way easier than actually being alone in the produce section of a super busy grocery store.
Plus, if you're on the phone, you can just walk by and whisper, “Hey! Good to see you! So sorry, I'm busy!” This way, you seem both polite and genuinely busy. It really is the best of both worlds, as Hannah would say.
2. Literally turn around when you see them; full-on walk in the opposite direction.
I don't care if you made eye contact, I don't care if they saw you, I don't even care if they started raising their hand and opening their mouth as if to start talking to you, just turn around. Unless the other person is extremely determined, they're either going to think that you hate them or you just didn't see them (honestly, neither are really that bad).
3. Turn, immediately; do not pass go, do not collect $200, just turn.
OK, if you think doing a 180-degree turn is maybe a little much, you could always just take a right when you see them. Maybe you turn down the toy aisle in a Target or maybe you turn into the nearest shoe store. It really doesn't matter where you turn, just make sure to look completely focused on what's ahead of you.
4. If you're in a store, turn and pick up the nearest item, pretend to read the label and pray they don't say hello.
Making eye contact with people can be extremely awkward no matter what, but if you turn and pretend to be busy, there's a good chance that they won't stop and bother you.
You might have to pick up a blanket and read the tag or even a milk carton and read the label, but as long as you look focused, you've probably succeeded at avoiding an awkward conversation.
5. Crawl underneath anything next to you: a table, a clothing rack, maybe even a chair.
OK, so this one takes a bit more dedication because there's a fairly good chance the person will notice when you immediately crawl underneath the nearest object.
Maybe they'll walk by and pretend like they didn't see you, or maybe they'll stare as they walk by. Either way, you're pretty likely to get out of saying hello. Honestly, not many people are likely to bend down and say, “Excuse me, are you avoiding me?” (If they do, just play dead. Works every time.)
6. Take off in a dead sprint to the bathroom and lock yourself in the stall for the rest of eternity.
Even if the person is crazy enough to actually follow you all the way to the bathroom, they can't make you unlock the stall. If you really want to, you can sit in there completely silent for like four hours just to make sure that they're really gone when you emerge.
7. If all else fails, just walk by them with your head turned the opposite direction and actively avoid any eye contact or conversation.
Sometimes, turning around, sprinting away, or crawling underneath something just seems like too much when you know that the person in front of you has already noticed you. When that happens, you have to dedicate the next five minutes of your life to pretending that they don't exist.
Of course, you will always run the risk of running into that one person who will call you out in any situation. Some days, you just have to suck it up and make small talk, even if it lasts a painful seven minutes and is filled with nodding heads and awkward hugs.