Saturday, June 15, 2013

Throwing Your Hands Up

I had an interaction this morning that was sufficiently memorable -- in a strange sort of way -- that I thought it was worth blogging about.

Just after the formal portion of the flag retirement ceremony at Westlawn, I saw someone who is not a close friend, but certainly an acquaintance who I greatly respect(ed).

I said hello, and she wasted no time with this response: "I said 'hi' to you on the train, and you didn't say anything back.  Right then and there, I said, 'Greg's off my list.'"

There was no smile, no slap on the back, and no "just busting balls" moment of levity right afterwards.  She was being completely serious -- not spiteful or angry, but certainly matter-of-fact.  She is from a different generation, so there's a bit of a communication gap there, but it was very clear to me that this was a one strike, and you're out.  And it was clear to me also that this "strike" hadn't come anywhere near the plate.

I have no doubt that the *incident* occurred, as I frequently take the train between Lowell and Boston.  It could have happened at North Station, it could have happened on the platform in Lowell, or -- most likely scenario -- as one of us was passing through an aisle in search of a seat.

I can't say I don't care (after all, I'm writing about it now, which proves that I must care on at least some level).  However, I noticed a big change in the way I reacted.  A few years ago, something that like that would've led to more follow-on questions from me.  I would've taken the time to learn what happened (my best guess is that I was deep in the morning paper and neither heard nor saw her), and I would have made an earnest effort to walk away on a more harmonious note.

I did none of that.

Awkward social interactions are always going to happen; trying to stamp them out altogether is an exercise in futility.  If both people defaulted towards an assumption of good faith on the part of the other, though, no one would have to hold stupid grudges over imaginary slights.

I heard someone explain the other day that as individuals, we are each the collective average of the five people who we spend the most of our time with.  If that's the case, maybe some culling now and then isn't the end of the world.  Even though this particular person isn't anywhere near my Circle of Five, the point is still valid -- if someone draws sharp lines in that arbitrary manner, it would've been a matter of time until something happened that 'de-listed' me -- perhaps it would've been something equally stupid, and arbitrary.   


C R Krieger said...

Gee, I didn't realize you were old enough for there to be a "younger" generation coming along.  I am sure hoping it wasn't someone of my generation.  We need all the friends we can find.

Actually, reaching back out to this person might have been an act of kindness, since she seems to have a very serious problem and needs friends to help her over it.  On the other hand, walking away from such situations is probably a good idea.  Learning it isn't always one's own fault is an important lesson.

Just a thought...

Regards  —  Cliff

The New Englander said...

Cliff, the person is of your generation. So it goes.

Some things aren't worth it. Planet Earth will never find itself feeling a shortage of people who can be petty, or of people who play the "Heads I Win, Tails You Lose" game of interpersonal exchange.

To those unfamiliar with the rules, it says, "I can be a complete bleeptity-bleep to YOU, but the minute you challenge me or call that out, I'm going to say you're overreacting."

They create a completely unwinnable game for anyone else who dares to play.

The funny thing is, when you sit back and watch how THOSE people react to being challenged, you can really see what they're all about! HIWTYL players = not worth my (limited) time.