This is the perfect run in I had with an old college friend at a bar last night
I was sitting in the back room drinking a vodka apple juice with a few kind people who introduced me to vodka apple juices when I noticed a former classmate enter to meet others at a large table filled with after-work dudes in oversized and overstarched dress shirts. “I have to say hi to this girl,” I told my friends, “but I’m going to make it short.” There was Golden Girls trivia to attend in a different borough, naturally, so I had to keep things brief, though I knew it would be a difficult task. Will she want to keep talking? Will I be introduced? Is it polite to say “hi” and run? As I approached the back of her head, with its hair pulled back in a tight, professional bun, I knew this would be painless.
“Sara?” She turned.
On mute, the hug that followed would have been interpreted as curt, but her warm exclamation of my name proved our excitement was mutual. “How are you doing?” I said.
“Are all those people your coworkers?”
“Nope, they’re my friend’s coworkers. Are all these people yours?”
“Well I don’t want to keep you, but I wanted to say hi.”
“Great to see you, I’m sure I’ll see you around on twitter!”
And that’s where it ended - a perfect ~25-second interaction with a former acquaintance. We didn’t even bother spouting out an empty invitation to “get drinks sometime” because of an unspoken, mutual understanding that, though there’s nothing wrong with (and something quite pleasant about) a brief “Hello,” there’s no need for a full reconnect.
I returned to the table. “Wow, that didn’t take long at all,” they told me.
Though I will not interact with her electronically as a follow up, I do believe our short conversation had measurable value. It was a reminder that these people we know for a brief moment and happen to lose contact with don’t suddenly, well, cease to exist. I suppose one could argue that facebook does the same thing - updating us on the lives of people we no longer see with any regularity – but there’s a difference when it’s in person. Sara popped into my IRL newsfeed and I was genuinely happy to know she was doing well. I can’t explain why, but there was something comforting about it.
But despite all of that, I’m absolutely fine with hiding any future stories from her on my feed. And that’s OK, too.