Due to the cold weather, Rochester inhabitants are forced inside and undergo 76 percent fewer social interactions than people anywhere else in the country. This may be detrimental to your ability to be a normal human. The goal of this student handbook, “How To Be Normal,” is to teach you to be a more successful, beautiful, and happier person, regardless of the fact that Rochester students turn into underground mole-people from November to April.
Chapter 1: Being Normal Around Campus
Campus has many long, narrow, straight pathways. Take, for example, the bridge to Phase, or the tunnel connecting Wilson Commons to Rush Rhees. It’s frighteningly common to see someone you know passing in the opposite direction. In this situation, try following this script:
“Hi, how are you doing?”
“Good, how are you?”
The next step is to avert your gaze as you pass on to your respective destinations. The socially proficient person will time this interaction perfectly. The exchange will be completed by the time you pass the other person.
However, if you are a socially incompetent person, you may make eye contact or recognize someone out of your peripheral vision much earlier than the time it takes to complete the script. Rather than yell over a distance, or stray from the script and attempt a full conversation, there are several safe options you can take to avoid this uncomfortable situation. Feel free to rely on the following strategies:
1. Pretend you don’t see them until the last moment because you are too busy looking at the peeling paint in the tunnels and contemplating how much lead poisoning a human can take.
2. Pull out your phone and look at all of your texts, Snapchats, and emails, even though there’s nothing there and you’re just aimlessly opening apps.
3. Walk backward until the appropriate moment, and then explain that you’re working on gaining mobility in your achilles tendon. (Added benefit: makes you appear more athletic!)
4. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and stare at the ground. When you see familiar-looking feet that could be attached to a person you know, look up when the feet are about 10 feet away and greet them. A 10-gallon cowboy hat, sombrero, or Kentucky Derby–esque piece will provide excellent coverage.
5. Run through the halls. You’ll never have that much time to speak to someone if you’re sprinting past them. And you’ll never be late to class!
6. Drink from a water bottle, which will block your line of vision and turn your gaze upward. Use at own risk. Students have fallen into garbage cans and knocked into other obstacles while looking away, and some have nearly drowned trying to fill the time of walking down an obscenely long hallway.
As you get more comfortable with the script, and develop more social skills, feel free to improvise a little. Perhaps rather than saying, “Good,” you can give a self-deprecating, relatable complaint. Commenting on one’s own stress level or lack of sleep are always commonalities that UR students identify with. Be aware that using this too often may subconsciously convince you that you’re stressed and tired all of the time.
Social interaction is difficult, but don’t worry. Follow these tips and you’ll be acting like a normal person in no time.