I’ll admit that, no, it wouldn’t be that hard to say “Hello” or “How are you” when I see you at school. We wouldn’t even have to stop and chat; it’s perfectly acceptable not to break stride on the way to class or the library. A simple acknowledgment would probably suffice.
But when I see you at the opposite end of the hallway heading toward me, making eye contact with you and initiating a greeting seems like the worst thing IN THE WORLD. It’s not rational, but I’m going to avoid you with such effort that, applied to school, might have gotten me onto Law Review. These are things I’ve chosen to do instead of say “Hi” to you:
1. Tie my shoe. Shit, I’m wearing flats. Adjust my flats.
2. Become extremely interested in the brick masonry on the sidewalk.
3. Say hello to the only classmate who isn’t walking with someone, who might be the one person here more awkward than me. I ask how his weekend was until you’ve passed by. It is Wednesday.
4. Pretend to receive a phone call. Classic.
5. Pretend to receive a text. Really just scroll through text history with roommate.
6. Act like I forgot something, do a 180 degree turn and speed off. Surprised face with eyebrows is key for this one.
7. Fix my hair. The nice thing about a self-made French braid is that it allows me to turn my head to the side. Obviously, I mean the side of the hall that you’re not walking on.
8. Dig a textbook out of my backpack.
9. Drink from the water fountain. Oh God, you’re moving so slow! I’m getting over-hydrated!
10. Turn into the vending machine enclave, forcing me to buy Peanut M&Ms.
11. Duck into the nearest first-year Contracts class. Hopefully no one notices I’m here because I do not remember what consideration is, and I’m pretty sure that’s covered on the first day.
12. Last resort: Say hello to a professor. The kind of human with whom I am worst at interacting. Ask a vague question about how they think today’s Supreme Court would decide Case X from 1875.
And exhale. You’re finally a safe distance away and I can walk through in peace. See you again tomorrow and every day for the next two years until we graduate.