Casual Encounters

How do you react when you run into someone you used to know but haven’t seen in many years?  For me this usually happens with people who went to my same high school.  I basically live in the same town not a mile away from where I grew up so these encounters happen with some frequency.  Know this…I didn’t really get along with most people back then.  If I tend to avoid people today out of general principal I was down right misanthropic when I was in high school.  There was a small group of people I could stomach being around and an even smaller group I considered friends.  Over time I got better about dealing with members of the human race and today I think I do pretty well but I don’t think anyone would ever call me overly outgoing.  Personally I like the term “reserved” but that’s just me. 

Anyway, due to the less than glowing memories of my pre-college years, bumping into people from that time causes me a bit of stress.  I don’t know how to handle the idle chit chat that inevitably must ensue during one of these chance encounters.  One thing that is always important to me is to be polite and respectful which I always am but it is just hard to talk to someone when you really don’t care about what they have to say.  On the other side, I can usually tell when the other person doesn’t have any desire to talk to me but the situation makes it all but unavoidable.  It is the same old boring conversation every time.  “How’s it going?”  “Where do you work?”  “Do you have kids?”  “Still living around here?”  Then there is some kind of throw away line that ends a conversation.  Usually something like “Well, good to see you.”  Then there is the awkward wave or the shaking of hands and the encounter is over.  Of course that is when I wonder to myself…”why didn’t I move to Oregon?”

There is just something weird about running into people you never thought you would see again.  I know it happens to everyone but I don’t think I am very good at dealing with these encounters.  How do you handle these awkward moments?

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