The Bostonian’s Guide: Running into People you Know

Posted on April 20, 2012

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No one from ATown believes in God more than when they head into the Natick Mall and pray, “Dear God please help me not to run into anyone I know.”

Just me?

If you do run into someone you know, don’t panic. I’ve done thorough research on the variety of people you WILL run into on the worst day of your life, and the socially acceptable reaction to each of them.

Level One: The Acquaintance

This is someone whose face you recognize.  Who knows, you might even remember their first name!  It doesn’t matter if you went to high school with this person for 4 years and never once found it in you to say hello. Now is the time!

Best Case Scenario:

Your cold demeanor throughout this interaction is tricky yet essential to a successful Bostonian hello.  Make sure you smile widely, while keeping your voice as cold as possible.  Say “Hello, (first name),” mention a few of your post-college successes, and do not mention that you live at home with your mom.

When one of you mentions that you should hang out sometime, say “Yes that sounds great!” very cheerily.  Look down at your watch and frown for effect.

Congratulations, you have now successfully remained just acquaintances and can go about your day.

Worst Case Scenario:

Your first, inadvertent reaction to seeing your old high school classmate (were they in your class, or the one below you?) is a large smile.  You are now in the danger zone.  Because of the warmth in your voice when you say hello, your acquaintance confides that he’s had a crappy few years since college just like you have, and he lives with his mom.  You find yourself bonding over your living situation, somehow meander over to grab a cup of coffee at Dunks… and talk.

Great job.  You have now wasted an hour of your day being relational, and your classmate has no chance of thinking that you’re probably better than they are.

Level Two: The Acquaintance that you Facebook Stalk

The levels to which you have facebook stalked this person are astronomical.  You know their boyfriend’s name, their street address, and have some serious Michael Kors watch envy.  Prepare yourself with a deep breath.

Best Case Scenario

You see each other across the store and wave hello while quickly turning away mid-conversation (with someone imaginary on your cell).  You bump into each other in the shoe aisle and agree to acknowledge each other.

“Hello,”  you say.  Don’t even say their first name. In a world where you don’t stalk this person, you might not even remember their first name.  Answer all their questions in mono-syllables, lest you scream out “YOUR NEW 3 MONTH OLD DOG IS SO CUTE!”

When one of you suggests that you should get together soon, make sure you say “Sure,” and then mention how busy you are.  Although you think you and this person might have a lot in common, like the name of your first born child (well, maybe you don’t want them to know about that one), you would never want this person to find out that you like them.

Worst Case Scenario

In the shoe aisle, you greet them by their first name.  You  see the shoes they are holding and mention that you like their style.  You both look awkward until you admit, “I follow your blog! And I love it.”  Never mind that this person has posted their entire life on the worldwide web, including daily updates of their new puppy.  Be embarrassed that you have admitted to liking their blog and possibly added some encouragement to their day.  Now they are definitely going to find out that you stole their baby name.

 Level Three: Your Worst Enemy

You have probably dated the same person, really openly dislike each other, and are complete opposites when it comes to everything important.

Best Case Scenario:

Run up to this person and give them a hug! Squeal a huge “hello” and tell them how great they look even if it’s true.  Talk really loudly about your life and mention all major accomplishments of the past 24 years.  Flip your hair somewhere between 10 and 27 times.  Condescendingly and cheerfully introduce them to your significant other, who is staring at you open-mouthed, wondering “Wait, isn’t this her?”

Your confidence in the face of cattiness will confuse the beast so much that she will just play along, and in five minutes, you will be free of each others’ company, with cheerful plans to grab lunch sometime soon.

Worst Case Scenario:

You say hello, expressing the distrust you feel, and ask them how they are doing.  When you accidentally begin enjoying the conversation, you find yourself thinking that maybe since your tiff was a solid 8 years ago, you could perhaps get over it.  You decide that the past is the past, but realize you’re still way too different to ever be friends. You both genuinely have to go and genuinely have no desire to get together anytime soon, so you say “bye,” walk away and go about your business.

Wow, Congratulations.  You now have one less person to hate. Great work.

Level Four: Someone who is just without a doubt cooler than you

This person is and always has been cooler than you.  They are so cool that you don’t even mind that they are so far above you on every level.  This person is so cool, that there is no way to mess up the interaction.

Make eye contact, nod your head, pass the look (Yes, we know each other. So?), and go about your day.

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