Other People’s Friends

The situation is this… I’m on a train going to work with Diane, when Diane sees a friend of hers sitting across from us. Tracy, the friend, I have met before in passing and she seems like a nice enough person, but we’ve never been properly introduced or have had reason to talk. Tracy’s jovial, talks to Diane about high-school friends, while I busy myself with some pressing nervous hand gestures. They talk for a few stops, across the car, while people file in and out.

Then I hear the troublesome words “oh, I get off at 42nd street where do you get off…” The rest of the details don’t matter, because I know that Diane gets off at a station before me and the friend’s station is past mine, so there are going to be a few stops while we politely have nothing to say to each other. It’s like the awkward silence of death, because now the friend is going to talk to all their mutual friends and say;

“Oh, Diane’s new boyfriend? he’s really quiet. Kind of boring kind of guy really.”

I was at this point constructing a plan, I’ll get off with Diane and transfer to a different subway line and that way I won’t have the awkward moment with the friend. I had formalized the escape route in my head, when just then an innocent bystander stepped between the two chatterboxes and the conversation ended. It was at this point that the friend, I was so afraid to be left alone with, constructed her own plan of avoiding me. It’s probably one of the oldest tricks there is in avoiding the awkward conversation and that is to fake sleeping or just closing your eyes.

*Brilliant!*

My respect for the friend grew exponentially. I wanted to jump across the train and congratulate her on a well played block, when Diane got up to get off at her station… the friend said her goodbyes… and… resumed her closed eyes. Yes, this friend is a pro. She must be as frightened of social interaction as I am. I put on my earphones and added yet another block technique, the iPod.

The end of the story, dear readers, was just as exciting, for as my stop approached and I got ready to leave the friend opened her eyes and said as nicely as a friend of a friend can “bye.” But life, as it turns out, still had a trick up it’s sleeve, and as I said “Yeah, have a great day” I realized that my music was playing full blast and what I was about to say was probably going to be too loud, so I lowered my voice to compensate. The result as you can probably imagine sounded like what a true sociopath would sound like.

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