We all know what I’m talking about.
You’re walking to class, or work, or what have you, when you spot an acquaintance. At first, they’re clearly within a recognizable distance. Yet, still too far away to engage in any vocal communication – but rapidly approaching.
What first goes through your mind is the nature of your relationship with the individual (Enemy? Friend? Drunken hook-up?). Followed by the decision of what should be said in passing. If anything.
This is the point where I need to make a distinction between two types of people. Engagers and Repliers.
Engagers seek to be the one who speaks first in passing; the one whose greeting is to be replied to.
Repliers are the ones who remain quiet unless engaged upon.
The degree to which a person is an Engager or Replier varies depending on context; for instance, someone who is typically a Replier may become an Engager when approaching a more timid Replier.
If I’m not mistaken, this creates four categories of possible outcomes any time two members of a community walk past each other. They are as follows:
- Engager walks past Replier – at what point the Engager says something like, “Hey, how’s it going?” and the Replier responds, “Not bad, you?” Typically the smoothest transactions.
- Engager walks past Engager – at what point both parties attempt to engage in menial passing dialog and in doing so create a moment which they can both enjoy, as Engagers are typically chipper and outgoing and cherish imperfect moments such as those.
- Replier walks past Replier – at what point both pussies pretend to be looking at anything else other than each other, yet are both well aware that the other is doing the same thing.
Aw, fuck. I guess there was only three. If A=B then AxB=BxA or some such shit.
Anyway. Back to the hypothetical situation I was describing:
So as you approach the person you decide two things: what you intend to say if the approaching person says nothing, and how you intend to reply if they engage.
The only problem is we make these decisions prior to any actual vocal communication. This can at times result in some rather weird moments.
For instance, someone says, “What’s good?” and I reply, “Not much.” A rather depressing verbal encounter when you think about it.
Or when someone says “What’s up?” and I say “Pretty good.” Which just totally doesn’t make sense.
Basically, these moments are inevitable in life. So get used to them.
Boom. Awkward passing-by moments explained. You’re welcome.