The Rocks in Your Socks

Cue scene: you are walking down a hall-way in Old Mill on your way to class, you’re alone, your cell phone is packed up in your bag and you’ve forgotten your iPod. Your eyes wander from the floor to the ceiling to the walls where someone is ad-vertising scalped Dispatch tickets. Suddenly, 10 yards away at the opposite end of the hallway, you see a girl you know from one of your early classes. You are the only two people in the hallway. Her eyes meet yours at the same time. The above scenario can at this point be given ASI – Awkward Social Interac-tion – status. What do you do? Do you maintain eye con-tact the entire length of the hall, until she passes? That would be strange: striding along, smiling and staring. This is also dangerous: if you maintain eye contact for more than a full second, she will assume you wish to speak with her. If you in fact have nothing to say, the ASI will increase exponentially in magnitude. Yet, can you drop your eyes? That could be con-strued as a snub. If you decide to lower your eyes, when do you acknowledge her again? You can’t very well just ignore her until she enters the appropriate range for a walk-by greeting with a minimum ASI value. Eventually you have to take some course of action. To avoid the maximum po-tential amount of awkward-ness, you can feign trouble with your backpack/purse strap, a plausible reason not to “notice'” them right away. Warning: this provides a haz-ard in that they may recog-nize this ploy, and conclude you are trying to avoid them. Another ASI common in hallways and residence halls is the door holding process. It is polite to hold the door for those people behind you. But how long is it ac-ceptable to hold the door for someone you don’t know? Two seconds? Three sec-onds? Will a simple extra-hard shove of the door while you’re going through be sufficient? You don’t want to seem overeager to be a door-holder, nor do you want to be one of those inconsiderate louts who lets doors slam shut willy nilly behind them. As far as ASIs go, these circumstances are usually minor, but don’t underesti-mate them! During my third week of school, I judged one of my floormates to be out of door-holding range as I walked out of my hall. I was wrong. The door closed in her face while she was not a foot away from the door. She seemed to take this as a malicious act, and we have not made eye contact since. Not even when we’re the only two people walking down the hall.