Monday, August 8, 2011

Awkward Sidewalk...

It looks so innocent...

I have a confession to make--I think sidewalks, the kind that aren't particularly busy, are an incredibly awkward social space. You're walking along, on your way to or from the train station, say, down a quiet little street that you rarely see other people on, when suddenly someone appears near you. There are two ways this can be awkward, as I will try to demonstrate:

Awkward Sidewalk Situation A:

Do you make eye contact with this person, or do you pretend you're so incompetent at this walking thing that you have to stare at the sidewalk the whole time you're in his/her vicinity? If you make eye contact, at what point in this approaching-each-other spectrum do you initiate eye contact? How long does it last? Does the empty street or the building you pass twice a day every damn day suddenly become very interesting? Do you alternate between looking at them and looking at the monotony of the street? If you do make eye contact, do you smile? Will your smile be interpreted as a random act of kindness or a random act of creepiness? Do people still smile at strangers or is that just something I never let go of from my Wawa days? If it's a guy, will he think you're hitting on him if you smile? Would it be REALLY WEIRD to say "Good morning?" Do you feel like an idiot when they don't smile back? Does that influence your actions the next time you pass someone on this lonely little street? 

Awkward Sidewalk Situation B:

Am I the only one who feels like a sketchball when walking two or three paces behind someone on the sidewalk? I especially feel this way at night. So what do you do? Awkwardly pause to let them get a little farther ahead of you? Do you pretend to tie your shoe or check a text or something while you're pausing? Or do you walk a little more quickly so that you can pass them? Will that person think it's strange that you're like, power-walking in the middle of the night? Will you make him/her feel like a sketchball if you turn the tables and now he/she is walking a few paces behind you? 

Sidewalks, man. They're awkward.

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