So, tell me if this sounds familiar. You’re walking along your merry way somewhere on campus, when suddenly you see someone walking toward you, your reaction is to freeze.

Why do you freeze? Well, because you have roughly three seconds to decide how you are going to react to this person when they walk by you. Maybe you should say “hello,” but then again, that could be uncomfortably forward. There’s always the head nod – I’m certainly a big fan of that. Often, I can be seen gallivanting around campus head nodding at pretty much anything, including inanimate objects.

On the other hand, what is more embarrassing than giving the head nod and not getting one in return? However, you could always refuse to acknowledge the person, but then you’ve essentially become that person in high school who you – whether you were friends with them or not – despised. And of course, this is far away from high school. At least here our intellect allows us to develop more mature methods of combating the dilemma of social interactions.

You see, I take the high road. I’ve devised an intricate plan that allows me to avoid awkward situations with people all together. I’ll give you my two favorites. The first is stopping suddenly, letting your eyes go to the corner of your head and putting on that “oh *#%&, I forgot something” face on as you start sprinting in the other direction.

Granted, it’s over-the-top, which is why I often go with the simpler, and equally effective, fake phone call. But let’s think about this for a second. Is it honestly worth running around buildings and making fake phone calls to avoid having to encounter someone? My answer is a resounding, “yes.”

There are a million and one reasons for any given person to make you feel uncomfortable. There doesn’t necessarily have to be an outlandish back story, either. It can be your TA from last semester, any of the 1,000 different deans on campus that you once had to meet with, any girl from Kappa Delta, any football player and so forth.

But what would be so bad about engaging someone and being ignored? Maybe it is because I am afraid of the implications of such a gesture. For those of us that were the prom kings and queens, being ignored is analogous to being punched in the face.

For those of us that played Magic and designed computer software in our free time, being ignored is reliving the high school experience that college is supposed to shield us from.

The truth is, most of us fall somewhere in the middle of these categories and that’s why each of us experience these uncomfortable scenarios every single day. However, we all move on within two seconds.

That being said, the next time you find yourself at those pivotal three seconds without the fortitude to make a decision, you should realize that the other person might just be feeling the same way toward you.

Schwartz can be reached at

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