A Survival Guide to Socially-Challenged Interactions.

Jun 15, 2012 by

Lately, I’ve been so high with writing lists of things. I don’t know why. Must be the rainy season. Or my fluctuating attention span. So here’s another one of those. This blog lists some of the things we should do in reacting to really awkward situations in the social context. Public. Semi-strangers. People we only know in 2 minutes. These are based on experience and I’m quite sure you’ll learn some tricks from these:

1. When meeting a friend whom you haven’t seen in a long time, what usually happens is you could not remember the name. It’s the worst possible scenario especially if the other person calls you by name in such sincere tone. You suddenly feel stupid, and you want to kill yourself. Do they sell sharp memory at CDR King?

1.1 When this happens, be honest enough to say you are ashamed of yourself for not remembering. The other person would appreciate your straightforward disposition. Never pretend you know.

1.2 I used to match the face of the person to a name but it always fails. I used to think that faces have apt names corresponding to it. Like a Melanie always looks like a Melanie or a Luis or a Candida. It fails, so don’t try that. Go back to 1.1.

1.3 When you are the other party (meaning you are the one who is forgotten), do not take offence. For all you know the person had had four cervical surgeries subjecting herself to gallons of anesthesia — you know what that means, right? Furthermore, never test the person in public.  Do not go “okay, so what’s my name?” That is just completely rude. Someone did that to me before for forgetting her name and trust me, I never spoke to her again and deleted her out of my facebook and twitter. Such a bitch.

2. We always come across friends or acquaintances whose personality types are those who want to spend an entire afternoon with you in exchange for your simple hi. And they usually appear in situations when you are not exactly in the mood to chitchat. How to deal with these dilemma?

2.1. Discreetly put your cellphone on silent mode. Give it 1 minute. Then pretend as if someone is calling you. In the middle of your pseudo phone conversation, cover the mouth piece and tell your yak-happy friend that you need to go, it’s an emergency.

3. Major kickers who say “You look fat!” or “You lost a lot of weight! Are you sick?”

3.1. Smile and say, “Really? I’ve been meaning to gain weight! Thank you for noticing!” or “Really? I’ve been trying to look like you, thanks for noticing!” or

3.2. Come on, not as fat as you. 

3.3. You inspire me. 

4. When someone offers you a ride and you know your home is so totally out of the way, understand that the one who’s offering is just being polite and deep inside their hearts, they actually hope you’d refuse. So refuse. But if they insist (and you know it when they’re really sincere like eager beavers), then be kind enough to ask Are You Really Sure? My Place Is Out Of Your Way. Ask this only after about 30 seconds of tug-of-war offering.

5. When you see a friend in a restaurant eating alone, please, for Christ’s mercy, do not invite yourself to sit with him/her. And do not create an awkward stare that connotes you are waiting to be invited over to sit with that person. It’s just so not elegant. Quite barbaric, actually. Unless that person is your super-bestfriend whom you used to share toothbrushes with, then it should be fine.

6. Do not ask a fellow customer or a fellow tourist to take your photo especially if you’re with a big group. You can take turns, if your purpose is to show on facebook who else traveled with you. But to bother an unsuspecting tourist who happened to be around your annoying presence is really bad.

6.1. If you are traveling alone, someone else would be a quite willing to take your photo (maybe once, twice is too much kindness already).

6.2. If you attempt to ask a favor from someone else to take your group photo, get a feel first by looking around and see if someone looks willing to offer you a shot. When this happens, be very kind in thanking the other person. DO NOT:

6.2.1. Ask the person to step back, move forward, step to the left or kneel. Are you fucking serious?!

6.2.2. Look at the preview of your cam, frown and say, can you do it again? Are you out of your mind?

6.2.3. Make the person peek through the viewfinder and say WAIT while you arrange everyone and dictating how everybody should look like. Get your freaking personal photographer.

7. When in a bus, or a plane or a train and someone is on their earphones, do not attempt to make a conversation.

8. Chivalry is dead. Women are not treated like princesses on public utility vehicles, but hey, I do not feel comfortable looking at women standing while I am comfortably seated. My old school grandma’s voice would resonate in my head and you’d be a lucky girl if I were on the same bus as you are because I’d definitely poke you to get my seat.

9. Do not take your sweet time when ordering in fastfood chains. Decide on what to order while lining up. I always hate people who cannot make up their minds while on the counter. In other countries, the cashier would kindly ask you to step aside and come back when you have made up your fickle mind as the others in line are here for some quick grabs.

10. Do not sleep at coffeeshops. It’s just totally weird.

Do not put your hands inside your pants while eating in the middle of the plaza.

There are ways of studying in public places other than this.



  1. Ging Dimaano

    I enjoyed reading your article, but I found 2.2 rather unkind and rude. I’d wait for her to finish talking then tell her I have to go.

  2. Thea

    Been enjoying the lists sir Bob. Keep ‘em comin.
    Totally agree with most of it especially #5 & #9. :)
    Btw, how’s the Beijing trip?

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