Maybe it’s just me, but it tends to get weird when you bump into an acquaintance when riding public transit. Take, for instance, the morning a coworker walked on the same car as me. First I feel excited to see a familiar face—and a face that’s not familiar because I served you beer last night, cause that happens more than I’d care to talk about—but then quickly, I realize now we either have to make small talk for the next 15-20 minutes, or one of us risks being rude by not sitting down with the other person. She sat down next to me. Whew. I put my book away and feel confident that we have enough work gossip to get us through the morning commute.
Her phone rings. She answers. Okay, back to reading. I pull my book back out. She loses her connection. I put my book away. “So…” Her phone rings again. I take my book back out.
Just as I’ve discovered I should hold my book on my lap so I can stop this little game, she jumps up. “My stop is next! Bye, honey!” Umm. My stop is next, too. But to avoid the likelihood that I will fall into someone’s lap by the jerking of the train stopping and starting, I always wait until the last possible second to stand up and exit. Now my routine was shattered! Uggh. I get up and try not to fall down.
I chat with her a bit more until we reach the stop. “Ok, bye!” she says. Uhh, what? We don’t walk together now? Now I feel obliged to let her walk ahead of me. I feel increasingly like a social pariah. Luckily I had to transfer to the green line, so eventually I stopped feeling like I was following my coworker around Chicago.
I completely accept that in this situation, I made it awkward—and probably only in my head—but this morning, I faced some awkwardness that I know was not in my head, and not my fault. AT ALL.
So, on the days when I have to go straight from my internship to working at the bar, I park my car by work and walk to the California blue line stop so I don’t have to take public transit home late at night. Might seem a little silly, but last night a homeless guy was peeing right in front of the train entrance as I walked to my car, so I was grateful not to have to get in range (or better eyesight) of all that bizness.
Anyway. This morning, I’m stepping out of my car and see a guy I know walking down the street.
We say hi. We discover we’re both walking to the El, and we’re both going in the same direction. Going to the same stop, as a matter of fact. However, he’s walking incredibly fast and I’m wearing heels, and Lord knows I can barely walk in my bare feet, so this presents a problem. I’m thinking he’s in a hurry and doesn’t have time to chat, so I’m fully prepared to say bye and leave it at that. But he keeps talking (albeit over his shoulder practically, because I’m tripping all over myself trying to keep up), and we end up walking up the El platform together.
We talk for a minute while we’re waiting for the train, and he’s looking over my shoulder for the nonexistent train so frequently that I’m starting to get uncomfortable. I ask him a question. He starts pulling a book out of his bag and gives me a distracted answer. And then: “Well, I’m going to go stand down there. See ya.”
You might be thinking, “Oh Alison, this isn’t that weird…it was the morning, he just wanted to read his book and get to class.” Uh huh. Maybe.
But when I said “a guy I know” I also meant a guy I’m supposed to go out on a date with.
Guess who has an awkward text message coming his way!