Friday, October 07, 2005

Corridors, Acquaintances and Turning Invisible

Its 5pm and I need my sugar fix. A dark chocolate cookie with chocolate chips, from the cafe. I can imagine the soft chocolate chips melt in my mouth, as I chew on the cookie. mmmph. Life - can wait. So can work, unanswered emails, and the rest.

I quietly make my way to the cafe. Passing through the long corridor. The long corridor that seperates me from my cookie. These long, lonely corridors. Cubicles to right of them, cubicles to the left of them and lets not forget, cubicles to the front of them!

And I see this acquaintance, making his way through the same path. Only he starts at the other end. He sees me and I see him. But, we both know, it will take 10 seconds for us to pass each other. Those critical 10 seconds, where you cannot look at each other, or heaven forbid, smile at each other. Sadly we have nothing else to look at or cannot even look busy. Its 5pm on a friday evening, we both know, the only starting point and destination is the cafe or your cube. Not a meeting room, not the lab, ok, may be, the printer...

We walk on, with a brave face (no smile, no eye contact). For 10 whole seconds, we are both invisible. We walk on, aware and conscious of the other person. But never once acknowledge the other's presence. Then, we are about 5 feet away. He smiles and says, "Hi!" and I smile back. And we have crossed each others path one more time. And boom! like magic, we are visible again. And, we walk on.

Why should just looking at someone - for 10 seconds, be so uncomfortable? What makes us look away? What do we fear? That one of us, might learn some deep dark secret about the other, by just looking at each other?


Falstaff said...

I don't know if it's fear exactly. Or even discomfort. For me it's a kind of weariness - as though being looked at required effort, required me to be more demonstrably myself than I am when I'm alone (I'm probably channeling Sartre here, but you know). It's the effort that one wants to avoid, even though you know it's inevitable. Like sitting in front of a TV watching a channel you don't care for because you're too lazy to find the remote and change.

The Black Mamba said...

I think its not being myself - that requires the effort. Like being able to fit into someone else's image of me. I suppose that is what I fear. I believe that someone has this image of me. So each time I see them, I would like to be in that mask (This mask is just natural, no deep analysis leads me to be that way with someone). And it is an effort to get in that mask, each time I walk past that person.

But what is interesting is that, most people have these masks and so can empathize (with the confusion and fear). And that is what makes us look away, so the other person does not feel uncomfortable.

Übermaniam said...

Becos we're so self-involved. I think.