Tuesday, January 21, 2014

That Sinking Feeling of Bumping Into Someone

Was wondering if I'd ever blog about this. Guess I would.

Now, I'm not particularly friendly or effusive. Unless you're a good friend, I don't even bother to say hello on the streets. Or when the space is so tiny and you're in my direct line of sight till I've to initiate or accept that social contact. Chances are, I'll go through quite a bit of trouble to give you a wide berth and step out of the way.

This thing about being sociable. Running into familiar yet unweclome faces at airports. I've been hanging out at airports a lot for the second half of 2013 till now. In the cities I've mentioned on the blog, and those lightning quick zips I didn't bother to talk about. Nothing can be worse running smack into acquaintances at airport lounges or living hell- having to sit next to them for a long flight. They're acquaintances for a reason. I'm not interested in finding conversation over topics of children, marriage, property prices, housing, cosmetics or shopping, or whatever's exciting in the city we're going to/just returned from, thankyou.

It's terribly awkward having to keep a light conversation going when there's no common ground and we tip-toe around topics in order not to set off extreme disagreements. I imagine they feel the same. That's not to say friends agree with my opinions or vice versa. The striking difference- we love each other enough to want diversity in our lives; so long diversity is constructive and not the ilk of racism, bigotry in all forms, and so on.

Hong Kong - Were friends; dwindled to being acquaintances

Was buried nose-deep in a book at the airport lounge when something made me look up and saw two familiar faces stroll past. Luckily I was all slouched in a corner with a beret and very messy hair. They went straight in, turned the corner and never spotted me as they were clearly rushing in for a bite before the boarding the flight back to Singapore. Uh-oh. Really didn't want to be caught in an exchange of pleasantries when we hadn't seen one another for years.

If forced to, I'd smile and quickly walk away with at most a "Have a safe flight!" But often, it wouldn't happen this way. I could almost imagine the questions of "Were you on vacation? Work trip? What do you do now?" Please. If you don't know, you obviously don't need me in your lives, and vice versa. No loss. 

I skunked out of the lounge pretty fast. Figured that if I boarded early, I'd have a chance of being anti-social. It worked. From boarding in Hong Kong to retrieval of luggage in Singapore, I completely avoided them. Thank goodness for efficient bag handlers. Sprinted out to the pick-up point where a ride waited.

San Francisco - An Ex...Date

This, has gotta be the stuff of nightmares. Fairly sure the dude who sat across at the SQ lounge was someone I briefly dated like twenty years ago. o_O It was nothing serious, and in a matter of three dates over a month, I decided I couldn't meet his boring requirements of what he wants in a relationship. 

It was the voice that was recognizable. Not the face. Only had the briefest of glances at the face. You gotta give me credit for not even allowing a flicker of recognition pass through any muscle. He didn't look like anything I remembered. He looked suitably...aged. OMG. He was on a work trip with colleagues, and the longer he talked, the voice didn't seem so familiar anymore.

Thank fark for my Macbook and wifi. I was also totally engrossed in onscreen matters till the voice seeped into my consciousness. I was angled away towards the wall. Didn't need food and had all drinks on the table already. Didn't even need a pee break for the next hour. Dunno if he recognized me. He certainly didn't exhibit any trace of it either. I boarded late, and managed to totally avoid him for the duration of the long flight to Hong Kong. Didn't spot him anywhere in my cabin or at the toilets. But I noticed he got off at Hong Kong instead of Singapore. All good. Whewww.


Two close run-ins within a year are more than my heart could bear. That accelerated heartbeat and the sinking feeling of "OH DAMN" and then scurrying to hide. There's nothing pleasant about exchanging pleasantries. HATE THAT. Thank goodness Bangkok was uneventful that way, and the only people I ran into were welcomed acquaintances and friends.


tuti said...

hah! thank goodness you were undiscovered. i know the feeling. i don't like people. i just hope nobody recognizes me wherever i go. or worse, holler my name. i once told a cake shop which was next to my shop, not to call my name whenever she sees me. she must have thought me insane.

imp said...

totally understand you right there! it takes us right back to high school where classmates scream your name across the canteen or shopping malls. Ugh.

wl said...

hahaha. there are people like me out there ! I don't think I'm anti-social but I'm not in-your-face friendly either, something in between I suppose. can't stand the awkwardness of pleasantries and attempt to make up conversations when I rather be on my way doing whatever it is. guilty of going out of my way excessively just to scurry away from these situations before. the good thing in a new city, chances of these unwarranted encounters are almost down to nil !

imp said...

wl: hurhurhur. And we wonder why we're acquainted with each other! Be warned, if I spot you on the streets of uh whichever city, i will jump out and yell boo in your face.

jo said...

Same here. Heh. If I spot someone vaguely familiar in the same train cabin/station/area/wherever, I make a 180 degrees turn and start walking in the opposite direction or hide my face behind a kindle or magazine. Don't want to make small-talk or catch-up over old times :p too awkward.

imp said...

jo: you too! yeah, the burden of history, oddly, isn't as heartwarming as it's made out to be.