A Story of Rational Judgment

Recently I was in a small place crowded full of people for a lengthy period of time, and I happened to notice an old friend smushed nearby. It is a person (I’ll refer to this person as “it,” not because of questionable gender identity, but to conceal identity of any kind) with whom I have been acquainted since elementary school, and with whom I had a close relationship in one brief season of life. Although I have been aware that we now live in the same town, this person and I have not stayed in touch or spoken for several years.

So anyway…I saw this person in the crowd and tried to make eye contact. After several minutes without luck, I began to grow suspicious. A couple of times I was positive I saw it see me. A couple of times I thought we had eye contact, but when I smiled it turned out that it was looking right past me. I began to think that this person was deliberately avoiding me (“Typical snobbish behavior,” I consoled myself). I took it as a confirmation of my hypothesis when this friend physically moved itself (no small feat in such a crowd) so that its companion was a human barrier between us.

I tried a few more times, even walking directly past this person when I had to pilgrimage to the bathroom. Not even a glimmer of recognition. I judged this person in my mind when I saw it leave before the rest of the crowd.

Yes, the story ends there. I am pretty sure that I was right in my assessment of the situation. I am pretty sure that my husband’s assessment (“You’re paranoid”) is too simplistic. But it occurred to me that if many people had been in my shoes, they would have approached this person and said hello, and carried on a friendly conversation. They never would have questioned if this person (or any person, for that matter) actually wanted to talk to them. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to live with that kind of self-assurance. Obviously, I wouldn’t know.


6 responses to “A Story of Rational Judgment

  1. Usually, I’ll make the walk-by to see if they recognize me, then I realize it’s awkward for me to now go back and talk to the person, because it looked like I just brushed them off.

    Or I wait to try to remember their name, which I never remember right off, if ever, so then it looks like I’ve been hovering, which is weird.

    Which is why I choose to ignore anyone I think I might see, that I might recognize, that might talk to me.

    (Lots of faulty antecedent agreement in there. Forgive me!)

    Then there’s the guilty avoidance. For example, I’ve been avoiding a friend because I forgot to get her a wedding gift. I just kept forgetting, and now it’s been…six months (I’m ashamed to say). I’m realizing I have to get over this, or our friendship will be in jeopardy. What’s the right thing to do? It seems too late to actually give her a present, but what a jerk am I to act like I’m the world’s greatest friend, when I forgot her wedding present?!

  2. I recently saw someone at a church that we were visiting. This person and I spent 3 weeks doing summer missionary work in a group of about 15 college students 4 years ago. I haven’t gone to introduce myself because a) I can’t remember his name, b) I think he might not remember me and then it would be wierd, c) I already feel a little out of place since this isn’t my church yet, d) He is several pews away and lots of people are in the middle and lots of people are around him and talking to him so I would have to sorta interrupt, and last e) I am a girl and he is a guy and I don’t want him to think I am flirting/being interested but also don’t want to be super i’m-taken-here-meet-my-husband obvious either. So I haven’t said hi yet. Sign. Oh to be an uninhibited outgoing type person!

  3. Thanks for the stories, girls. I’m so glad not to be the only one!

  4. I see people I think I know and it turns out I don’t. I almost always initiate eye contact or even conversation, but end up feeling pretty silly. I haven’t learned my lesson yet.

  5. As you know, your parents have opposite theories on these kinds of situations – I would assume the person is a jerk and resolve not to care if I ever see them again. My spouse would for sure impose himself on said ignoring party and prove (in his own mind at least) that they really are GREAT friends, and it was just an oversight. And then proceed to try to convince me. Yeah, right.

  6. Yes, I am my mother. We can call the previous comment “Exhibit A.”

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