Have you ever been in a situation that made you wish you could just vanish into thin air? I bet you have. I bet it was something really embarrassing, something that just went wrong in every conceivable way, with you at its centre. Well, I’m not in such a situation. But that feeling… Yeah, it’s there.
Keeping your head down
I’m fidgeting. I guess it’s a physical response to me being tense and it’s probably supposed to help, but it’s most definitely not. What it is doing is make me stand out even more than I already am. I can feel people burning holes in my back, wondering what’s wrong with me. I can’t see them doing this, of course. I mean, half the people in here probably haven’t even noticed me coming in, but I can feel it. I need a different strategy. Run away… No! Don’t be stupid. Hide in the restroom... Dude! Look uninterested… That could be something.
Quick check of systems.
Face: let’s call it relaxed.
Body language: non-existent.
Inner-voice: screaming at the top of its lungs.
The art of looking uninterested
I let my eyes wander across the room. Slowly, but not too slowly. Lingering is only permitted on objects, not on people. Lingering on people falls under the category of staring and staring is not only impolite – worse, it’s awkward. The established way to deal with such an emergency situation is to still linger, just not on the person, but something slightly off to the side and behind the person. That’s also awkward, probably just as much as staring at some random stranger as if you were trying to start something, but in my head – that’s the important part – it feels like it might be less awkward.
I have the suspicion that fidgeting combined with looking uninterested – or however I’m looking at the moment – makes people think I need help. She certainly seems to have gotten this idea. A moment ago she was still standing on the other side of the room. Then we accidentally lock eyes for a second – yeah, I messed up there – she has a charming smile on her face and starts walking in my general direction. I mean, I sort of do want her to come here, but not right now! Doesn’t look like I have much of a choice, though. Oh yeah, that looks like determination. I’m looking uninterested. Not sure it works if you can’t even manage to convince yourself, but I sure as hell am trying. And she sure as hell ain’t changing direction. Doesn’t she see that I’m uninterested?
Just kill me!
She doesn’t. Or at least she doesn’t care, as is evident by her standing next to me, ready to take my order.
“Hello! What can I get you?”
“Uh… Number seventeen please.” What’s with the pause? Forgot how to speak?
“Sure. And to drink?”
“A… glass of water?” She does the asking, you the answering, dummy! And what’s with the pause?
“OK. Anything else?”
“I’m fine.” What’s that even supposed to mean?
“Great! I’ll be right back with you with your order.”
I didn’t say thank you… God damn it!
Text & Pictures: Andreas Böhm | Video: exurb1a