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The Etiquette Of Staring

As I was walking the long main hallway at work this afternoon I couldn’t help but notice that coming my way from the opposite end was an unfamiliar coworker, and I could swear that he was giving me the evil eye.

He targeted me early, locking eyes on me like we had somehow entered into some sort of formal optical-contact agreement, and he’d be damned if he was going to be the one to break the contract.  The closer he got to me the more disconcerting his glare became, and it was as if time was slowing with each step that we took towards each other, allowing me to gleam more and more unpleasant details in his troubling stare.

Evil Stare

Ten steps closer and I could swear his grin morphed into something disingenuous and down right psychotic.

Twenty steps closer and my mind raced to make sense of his furrowed brow and disquieting glint in his eyes.

Finally, as we neared within five steps of each other he raised his hand, waved, and said “Good morning!” to me as we passed.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it appeared that a confrontation was not in the cards, so I lowered my hands down from their Elvis “karate chop” defensive positions, smiled, and replied with my own feeble, “Morning!”

This got me thinking about the etiquette of the hallway stare.  It’s been my experience that eye contact is best avoided until the final fifteen feet or so, then a quick look into the eyes of your target followed by a brisk “Morning!” or “How was your weekend?” or “I’m still hung over…” as you pass is the most proper way of handling a hallway greeting in a professional environment.

A prolonged, longing glance from the end of the hallway just isn’t the way I roll.  It gives me the heebie-jeebies…

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  1. May 7th, 2013 at 02:27 | #1

    It would give me the heebies as well. However, think of it this way, that so called confrontation led you to write about it in story fashion. It was, in effect, a fabulous piece of writing. Coming on top of reading the Charlie/Mr Toothaker episode, it seemed to fit in very well…. smiles.

  2. May 7th, 2013 at 04:21 | #2

    No kidding! It’s downright rude to stare like that.

    You know, some people actually like to play little mind games and see how far they can go in making someone uncomfortable before they actually snap. If called on it, they’ll look startled and say ‘What? I didn’t mean anything … ‘ and try to make you feel as if you are the one in the wrong. I’ve met this kind of behaviour before. Of course there are also many people who aren’t particularly socially adept and do it quite unconsciously!

    I find the best response is a small, but knowing, smile. I suppose it plays right into the mind game, but it can have a very disconcerting effect of its own. Mwahahaha!

  3. May 7th, 2013 at 05:26 | #3

    eye contact…look down…tilt head…give hair a little shake…look back up through eyelashes…little smile….look back down….keep walking.

    Unforgettable, that’s what I ammmm…*laffin*

  4. May 7th, 2013 at 06:41 | #4

    OMG, when I first started reading this, I thought you were sharing one of your fabulous fiction stories. Between the way you wrote this and the photo, it gave me the heebie-jeebies!!!!

    Living in a city and walking the streets with SO MANY people, I go through stuff like this a lot. I’m pretty friendly and outgoing when coming upon someone I make eye contact with on the street. But let me tell you, I’ve gotten some of the CREEPIEST looks from people, when saying, “Hello.”

    Great post, buddy!

  5. May 7th, 2013 at 06:45 | #5

    And different countries / cultures have their own eye contact rules as well. I’m glad your experience was just a weird one and not a dangerous one.

  6. jenny_o
    jenny_o
    May 7th, 2013 at 09:18 | #6

    Someone I know has an eye problem that causes their eyes not to work as a team, and often it seems this person is looking at me but isn’t. Perhaps your hallway nemesis has a similar problem … and another theory … my vision isn’t very good, even corrected, and I often have to look at greater length at people to see if they are someone I know and should speak to … Just wanted to throw out some alternate explanations :) I know you’d give them the benefit of the doubt if you were aware of a reason for the staring.

  7. May 7th, 2013 at 09:53 | #7

    Staring at a gorilla like that would be a declaration of war. Next time he does that you should bare your teeth and snarl. While we’re on the subject, what’s your method of discreetly ogling pretty girls?

  8. May 7th, 2013 at 22:42 | #8

    Valerie :

    It would give me the heebies as well. However, think of it this way, that so called confrontation led you to write about it in story fashion. It was, in effect, a fabulous piece of writing. Coming on top of reading the Charlie/Mr Toothaker episode, it seemed to fit in very well…. smiles.

    Thanks, Valerie! The incident lasted all of 20 seconds, but it had me thinking about it the rest of the day…

  9. May 7th, 2013 at 22:43 | #9

    Jay from The Depp Effect :

    No kidding! It’s downright rude to stare like that.

    You know, some people actually like to play little mind games and see how far they can go in making someone uncomfortable before they actually snap. If called on it, they’ll look startled and say ‘What? I didn’t mean anything … ‘ and try to make you feel as if you are the one in the wrong. I’ve met this kind of behaviour before. Of course there are also many people who aren’t particularly socially adept and do it quite unconsciously!

    I find the best response is a small, but knowing, smile. I suppose it plays right into the mind game, but it can have a very disconcerting effect of its own. Mwahahaha!

    You’re probably right. Some people are socially repressed, and I’m sure this person meant nothing by the long stare down. I’m curious to see if the same person does this again in the near future.

  10. May 7th, 2013 at 22:44 | #10

    Fireblossom :

    eye contact…look down…tilt head…give hair a little shake…look back up through eyelashes…little smile….look back down….keep walking.

    Unforgettable, that’s what I ammmm…*laffin*

    Hey, you stole my moves! Heh… ;-)

  11. May 7th, 2013 at 22:45 | #11

    Ron :

    OMG, when I first started reading this, I thought you were sharing one of your fabulous fiction stories. Between the way you wrote this and the photo, it gave me the heebie-jeebies!!!!

    Living in a city and walking the streets with SO MANY people, I go through stuff like this a lot. I’m pretty friendly and outgoing when coming upon someone I make eye contact with on the street. But let me tell you, I’ve gotten some of the CREEPIEST looks from people, when saying, “Hello.”

    Great post, buddy!

    I can imagine the strange looks and behaviors from random people in the big city. You never know who you’re passing in the street. Could be a movie star or a person teetering on the edge of a psychotic breakdown. Yikes!

  12. May 7th, 2013 at 22:46 | #12

    Lorna :

    And different countries / cultures have their own eye contact rules as well. I’m glad your experience was just a weird one and not a dangerous one.

    Hey, I’m good with weird. It provides me with writing fodder, so it’s not all bad! ;-)

  13. May 7th, 2013 at 22:47 | #13

    jenny_o :

    Someone I know has an eye problem that causes their eyes not to work as a team, and often it seems this person is looking at me but isn’t. Perhaps your hallway nemesis has a similar problem … and another theory … my vision isn’t very good, even corrected, and I often have to look at greater length at people to see if they are someone I know and should speak to … Just wanted to throw out some alternate explanations :) I know you’d give them the benefit of the doubt if you were aware of a reason for the staring.

    Yeah, you never really know the whole story, do you? It could be something as simple as crossed eyes, or the person was daydreaming. You’re right. Think I’ll take your advice and chalk this up to a random, one-shot occurrence. Will have to see if I get a repeat of the same behavior from that person in the future…

  14. May 7th, 2013 at 22:49 | #14

    Gorilla Bananas :

    Staring at a gorilla like that would be a declaration of war. Next time he does that you should bare your teeth and snarl. While we’re on the subject, what’s your method of discreetly ogling pretty girls?

    Ogling is a fine art. My best advice: use your peripheral vision, my friend!

  15. May 10th, 2013 at 11:20 | #15

    Strange as it might have been for you, it was a very good read for me. Since I don’t get around to reading many of those who put up fiction stories, this true account will do just fine. ;)

    Occasionally, I have trouble with too much eye contact. Not sure why. Maybe I’m a little shady. haha! Really, I’m the friendliest person on the planet much of the time, but in one-on-one conversation I have noticed sometimes that my eyes wander around.

  16. May 10th, 2013 at 11:21 | #16

    p.s. Totally creepy photo. Love it! lol

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