Sunday, July 12, 2009

An Apology

I have a problem. It may have led to some unintended rudeness on my part. I would, therefore, like to issue a general apology to anyone who may have been the recipient of said unintended rudeness. We all know that the Mormon world is a small one and you're bound to run into people that you know every now and again while at the store or cruising around town. And that's where my problem rears its ugly head. You see, when I see people that I know when I'm at the store, my natural instinct is to turn and run before they can see me. Apparently, I develop a bit of social anxiety when unexpectedly confronted with a situation in which I need to be friendly. If I'm not able to escape without notice, my next line of defense is to pretend that I didn't see that person. Then, I pray in my heart that they don't see me. Or that they're exhibiting the same natural defense mechanisms as I am. Then we both pretend not to see each other, nobody is offended, and everyone goes home happy that they narrowly escaped that potentially awkward run-in. But, more often than not, the person sees me or there is no safe means of escape and friendliness is necessary. When that is the case, my last line of defense in order to avoid any awkwardness is to make the encounter as brief as possible. Usually that means that I say hello or have a brief exchange as I pass and then I keep going without looking back. And that is where the unintended rudeness happens. I am fully aware that any normal person would be friendly and stop to chat for a few minutes. I know what the social norms are. But, as I said, I have a problem. My natural, avoid awkward situation tendencies take over and I probably come across as a rude social freak as I try to exit the situation with minimal damage. So, to anyone who has experienced these self-preservation tendencies at the worst, I offer my sincerest apologies. I have no problem with you - as I said, the problem is mine. So, if you have tried to say hello and only received a brief hello as I make a beeline for the next aisle, I'm sorry. If you have seen me in the store and stopped to chat only to have me call out a brief greeting as I dash past you, I'm sorry. And, if you saw me coming toward you one moment and saw only my back as I make a hasty retreat the next, I'm sorry. In those situations, I feel much like a deer caught in the headlights, but in my case, I don't plan to get run over. So I run. I know it's rude. I'm sorry. Please forgive me. And don't expect to have any sort of normal conversation with me in those spontaneous encounters. Just know that, even though I'm an idiot, I like you. Just from far away.

10 comments:

Hilary said...

Haha! The thing I hate, is after the brief "hey how are ya, k see ya later" I try make sure we don't end up in the same aisle. Because that's where it gets really awkward! Who wants to say hello and goodbye all over again? And then what if they are in the check-out line with you?! Aaahh!

melissa ( : said...

I have very similar issues... this is why I LOVE visiting people, like Dalene in PA, because chances are, I WON'T run into anyone I know! When I go home to visit, I try and avoid all public places like stores because I'm scared to death that I'll see someone I know. What is up with that???

PS But if I saw you, then I'd for sure say hi. ( :

mommafriz said...

What am I the only one who does not pull out the cell phone & act like I am in the middle of a great exchange of important information as I sander along...yes I do this, but I always make sure it is off as I would hate to have it ring while I am in the middle of using it as my great escape…wave…talk…nod…bye, bye...works for me!

Ashlee said...

Jenni,
you and I are kindred spirits. We have the same problem. We can be rude together.

Molly said...

Ha! That is so funny. I do the same thing. If it's a friend of mine (like, say, you) then I definitely call out to the person and stop to have a chat. But if it's merely an acquaintance, I walk down a different aisle. I'm no good at small talk. :)

I'm even worse on the phone. If I feel like there is a lull in conversation (even just an eensy bit) I immediately try my best to end the phone call. I'm terrified of awkward silence on the phone. Get me out of there!!

Andrea said...

This is precisely the reason I did not attend my ten year reunion. I had checked repeatedly with my friends, and no one was planning on going. Part of me wanted to go, but a much larger part was worried about it being awkward, so I didn't go.

Bernie said...

I do it too! I actually did it yesterday in the store! I did a very good "pretend to not see you" act. It worked too. Just wait until you have a 2 year old that wants your attention, it's easier then.

Gordita said...

I too relate to your distaste for awkward encounters. I usually do the "I'm-in-a-big-hurry-so-I-don't-have-time-to-stop-but-it's-so-nice-to-see-you.-We'll-get-together-sometime" thing. I've never thought to "talk" on the cell phone.

But since so many of us have this problem, isn't it safe to assume that probably the acquaintances we run across are feeling awkward too and would probably appreciate a friendly hello and would probably understand why you don't want to stay and small talk the afternoon away?

Tammy said...

wow! Maybe it's your generation. I usually love to see people I know. In fact, it's a rare day I go to Costco or Target and don't see someone I know. If the kids know I'm going they ask who I saw. The unfortunate part is that sometimes errands take really long if I see a lot of people. However, sometimes I don't want to talk to certain people or am in a hurry so I pretend I don't see them. But if I see you in the store you better say HI!

Matt said...

You're a jerk.