It’s 8:30 AM Monday morning. As you slowly walk to the L train, the only thing that is keeping you from stepping in front of a delivery man’s bicycle to get you out of work is a new episode of Radiolab in your earbuds. As you walk down the stairs towards the train you hear that heart stopping squeal of brakes and instinctively you rush as fast as you can through the turnstiles and down the stairs in stunning contrast to the speed at which your body had been operating only moments before. You jump into the crowded train just in time. Just in time for for the worst. You realize you are standing near someone you know. Before you have a chance to turn away you make eye contact and it’s clear you’ve seen each other. Here’s what you should do depending on who you run into:
Your favorite bartender – You chat it up on Thursdays at your go-to bar, but you both know you are under no obligation to establish a relationship outside of those walls. A smile or nod is all that is required.
Your old roommate who you were never close with – Sure you were roommates for a year but it was your mutual friend Craigslist who brought you both to that apartment situation. Back then you barely said a word when running into each other in the kitchen so why start now. A simple “hey” is all you need to say before breaking eye contact and hitting the skip back 15 seconds button on your podcast.
Ray from GIRLS – Yes it feels like you know him because he looks very in context on the L train and you have that one mutual facebook friend. You don’t really know him. Stop looking at him.
Your friend’s ex – The same rules apply as an old roommate who you were never close with with one major difference. Remember to text your friend “I saw Greg…he looked sad” as soon as you get service.
A good friend who you see regularly on the weekends – You want to talk about the weekend but you can’t because everyone is listening to your conversation. It might get unnecessarily awkward. Send them a text after saying “sorry I’m so weird before I’ve had my coffee lol ☕ ☕ ☕.”
A Facebook friend who you don’t really know – You friended them after hitting it off at Kevin’s Superbowl party because you assumed you would hang out most every weekend after that. Well Kevin moved to San Fran and you haven’t seen this person since. Do not blurt out that you saw via Facebook that they just went on a trip to London. Just talk about what you hear Kevin has been up to and pray for it to be over.
A High school friend who you didn’t know had moved to the city – If you really liked each other they would have told you they were moving here. Now you have to talk about other people you went to high school with for 5 subway stops.
That ex you had a bad breakup with – You would think this would be the worst person to run into but it’s not. Yes this will probably startle you a bit emotionally, but at least you can’t be expected to talk to them. Walk into a different car when the train comes and try not to think too much about that time they flirted with your friend at your birthday party.
Your Uncle Dave – What is he doing in the city? Why is he with that lady who isn’t your Aunt? Great. Text your mom what you saw and try to play it cool at Thanksgiving.
A Co-worker – Running into a co-worker at the beginning of your commute is one of the most dangerous of all. You are both headed for the same destination so there is almost no way to part ways until you get to the office. Your best hope is to make an excuse about getting coffee as soon as you get to the stop and say “welp see you in the office.”
Last night’s terrible Tinder date – Throw your iced coffee or any object you can get your hands on across the subway car to create a distraction. Yes this could ruin several other people’s commutes but they would understand if they knew what they were saving you from. Jump out at the next stop, move to a different city, change your name.
Your best friend – A wink and a knowing smile is all you need to give that person who knows exactly how much you hate talking on the subway. Blow them a kiss for good measure.