Hallway etiquette for dummies

By Rachel Nussbaum

Graphic by Elena Toumayan.
Graphic by Elena Toumayan.

Dun-nuh-nun-uh. Coming up fast on my right, girl-who-sits-in-front-of-me-in-science-class. Duh-nuh-nun-uh. Do I make an awkward half-wave? Do I avert my eyes? Do I creepily smile and hope against all odds that she remembers who I am? DUN-DUN!

The moment passes and the “Jaws” theme song fades to silence, but similar situations occur in the halls between students on a daily basis.

Really, there’s a fine line between nostalgia for past years and “do I know you?” This line is most precariously tight-walked down the halls of Whitman, when the coming together of last year’s group for that one video project creates as much dread as the reunion of Team Rocket (Pokemon trivia. That’s right).

During these cringe-inducing walk-by’s (like drive-by’s, but so much worse), the most important thing to remember is that it’ll all be over soon. But in those decisive few seconds, you need to make some choices.

For instance, just how well do I know this person? Are they worth the possible embarrassment that could come from a wave-turned-hair-fix (smooth, in both senses of the word)? Think about your relationship with this character. Is he or she that one who always makes you grab for papers before passing them back? (Side note: that gets old really quickly. Don’t attempt). Or could they be the one who picks up your pen when you accidentally have a mini-seizure and fling it under their desk? Because those kind souls deserve a Nobel Peace Prize for their diplomacy (I mean, if Obama got one…relax, I’m totally kidding).

Now, based on what category your interloper falls under, it’s time to take action and avoid/embrace this bloke like there’s no tomorrow.

You can always go with the classic method of avoiding awkward situations: suddenly feign a passionate interest in the other direction. This may not work so well if you’re in an empty hallway or if you’re right next to the person, but at least it’s better than the painful eye contact that comes from keeping your chin up (don’t be a hero). Worse still is the half-wave, which is just plain embarrassing and better not to even mention.

Now, if you weren’t gifted with the semi-mediocre talent that it takes to make this plan work, but would still prefer to steer clear of that guy you always borrowed pencils from and, um, forgot to return, the iPod option is a valuable idea to keep in mind.

It’s perfectly ordinary for people to listen to music between classes. It’s not even that far of a stretch to think that they’re just so absorbed, so consumed with the beat that trivial matters like acknowledging who you are slip their mind.

So pretend to be one of them. You’re not really a poseur if you’ve got a valid reason. And what’s more valid than dodging what you don’t want to deal with?