chang|e one's mind

i wrote a song… in my mind

awkward stranger eye contact

with 3 comments

you know those times when you’re walking down the street or in a mall or in a restaurant and you’re looking around and you see someone else looking around and all of a sudden your eyes meet? what do you do after that? here are some of my options:

greeting: maybe this is the more southern habit.  greet them with a warm smile and even though you don’t know them, you say hello or hey or good morning like it’s been your routine everyday for the past 10 years.  i think this one is really hard to initiate unless you’re just this kind of person.  and by this kind of person i mostly mean older, pleasant, southern women.

nervous greeting: i’d say this is what i normally do.  it’s not as strong and warm as the regular greeting, but still polite enough to let the other person know that you really didn’t have to say anything to them but chose to show that you acknowledge their presence and visual contact alone wasn’t enough to affirm that.  however, it can come off as though you’re just saying, “hi” because you caught the other person looking at you.  it usually looks like this:

you (looking at the person)

other person (catches you looking)

you (thinking): uhhhh… what do i do?

you (saying quickly): hey

other person (somewhat surprised, but on instinct): sup

end conversation

it kind of reminds me of that scene in superbad where fogle is staring at this girl’s butt and then she turns around and

catches him and he tells her the time.  ahahaha!  horrible movie…

quick look-away: i think the majority of people do this.  you catch eyes with someone and you look away like it was all just a coincidence.  the trick is how quickly you look away.  too quickly means you noticed them noticing you and you felt awkward and so you looked away.  too slowly and you’ll continue to meet their gaze.  you have to look away at just the right speed so it’s like, “yeah, so what?  so i was looking in your direction.  now i’m looking over there at that guy.  if you didn’t want to make eye contact, you should’ve have been looking over here while i was looking over there.”

stare-down: wow, mad respect for people who do this.  i only try this with little kids.  you know the ones who stare at you and don’t know how to talk to greet you or don’t know any better to look away.  that’s right.  i stare back until they get sick of looking at me or find something new to look at.  but i’ve never done this with an adult.  does anyone do this?  that’s mad intimidating.

what do you do when you’re met with the gaze of the awkward stranger eye contact?


Written by enoch

March 17, 2010 at 11:43 am

Posted in social observation

3 Responses

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  1. dude this happens the most to me at seminary, especially awkward when no one else is around and you see them coming from a huge distance away, what do you do during that eternity between your initial eye contact and the point of meeting? maintain eye contact? start looking around till you get closer? or wave and start shouting across the quad? HEY!!! HOW ARE YOU?!?! GOING TO CLASS?!!?!? ME TOO!


    March 17, 2010 at 12:10 pm

  2. I TOTALLY AGREE with sourhippo!!!! except it happens to me at work, in a narrow hallway, where there is no other turn for me to escape that awkward eternity, gahhh!! so awkward..

    if i’m far away from that stranger, i fall under the ‘quick look away’ category but if i’m stuck with that person, let’s say, in an elevator, then i’m “greeting”/”nervous greeting”.


    March 17, 2010 at 2:31 pm

  3. i must be an old southern woman.


    March 18, 2010 at 11:44 am

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