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13th November 2014

How to avoid people when you don’t want to speak to them

Lifestyle editor and suspect misanthropist Robert Firth has some top tips for anyone who just can’t be dealing with people today.

Forget normal procrastination: the BuzzFeed articles, YouTube videos, cups of tea, trips to the supermarket for one item, accompanying your friend to the supermarket for one more item. There is, believe it or not, something else gobbling up even more of your precious work time. It conceals itself in two-way questions with one word replies and nearly everyone hates it (and loves it) at different moments. You’ve got it: it’s small talk. So for the days when you just can’t be fucked, here’s how to avoid it.

Manipulating the built environment:

Aisles, present in many indoors public spaces are ideal for two pursuits: espionage and evasion. As we’re dealing with the latter, the skill is to identify the threat before becoming stranded halfway down an aisle scurrying away from them. Avoid making the juvenile error of rashly diving for cover in the nearest aisle; the hideous individual you’re trying to avoid will just be about to go down that one, fool.

Works best in: libraries and supermarkets.

Works less well in: the Learning Commons and street.

Top Tip: walls, columns and doors can also work similarly — be creative!

Ignorance is bliss:

A normally unhealthy dose of shamelessness is required if you intend to pursue this route. In the street, just divert your eyes away from the person and imagine it’s the last 10M of the 100M sprint, and you’re Usain Bolt. Even if they, irritatingly, call out to you, don’t look back — of course you’re not ignoring them, you’re just going faster than the speed of sound. Don’t try this technique in a confined space, e.g. the bus, unless you’re studying drama, in which case you just have to brazenly refuse to acknowledge them. Not even when they smile at you, and sit next to you, and try to speak to you, again and again.

Upsides: if you succeed with this technique you probably know you can, whatever happens, carve a career out in acting.

Downsides: if you’ve ever felt like speaking to the person again, a lot of time and even more explanation are probably required.

I’m working!

This method is perfect for when you’re around uni and suddenly caught off guard mid-bite into your mozzarella and tomato panini when that sickeningly sweet girl from your seminar starts to approach you. Quickly! Empty the contents of your bag onto the nearest available space, grab a highlighter and if you’ve got headphones in reach, then put them on (she won’t notice that they’re not plugged in). Hopefully she’ll have the sense not to bother you (can’t she see you’re busy), but if she dares to smile at you, be ready to shoot her your most threatening eye wrinkling grin then immediately turn away.

Works well: when you’re sat down

Works less well: when you’re mid-motion, unless you’re one of those pricks who pretend they’re ‘mobile’ working on an iPad.

Be Weird:

You’ve not listened and now you’re trapped down an aisle whilst James expounds on the differentiating qualities of brands of tinned peas. And he’s about to cross examine you on what you did every night this week. Don’t fear: interrupt him and ask if he wants to have sex, or tell him he’s so boring he makes concrete look interesting, but still, does he want a quick shag — he’s into bondage right?  People are terrified of strangeness and he’ll soon be making a rapid escape. You might end up with hardly any friends but then again that’s why you’re reading this.


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