The Art Of Ignoring People You Know

A prerequisite on how to die alone.


As big as New York is, I somehow constantly run into people I know. Does that mean I greet each and every one of those people? Absolutely not. That’s what separates humans from animals. Humans ignore each other. Our species has spent centuries building communities and civilizations just so I can hurry up and get inside my apartment if I hear someone coming down the hallway.

Unless you’re a dog, being friendly is questionable and suspicious. It’s a cultural faux pas to not only acknowledge a person’s existence, but to say, “Hello”? (Please read the following line in a valley girl accent) It’s practically social suicide.

The Case of Someone You Met Once

Threat Level: 1

Perhaps you met this person at a party and a friend introduced you two. It’s completely acceptable, if not encouraged, to ignore each other. You do not owe this person your life. Plus, there’s a pretty high chance that one of the two people in this scenario probably doesn’t even remember the other, so, it’s for the best to be on your way and avoid embarrassing yourself.

The Case of The Coworker

Threat Level: 5

Depending on your place of work, this person might be someone you see just as often as your own bed. Isn’t that terrifying? You could be spending eight to ten hours a day with this asshole. When you run into this person outside of work it doesn’t really matter if you acknowledge their existence. You’re just going to see them tomorrow or after the weekend. You don’t need to know how their night is going. What if you waste all of your small talk right then and have nothing substantial to talk about the next day? Then how will you kill time at work? You can wait until Monday to say hello.

I was riding the train to God-knows-where in Brooklyn and saw my coworker on the other side of a completely empty car. Just to clarify, I do actually like this person in and outside of work. I looked at him and I’m positive he saw me, but one of us would have had to get up and acknowledge the other. Saying hi at the end of a long day would not be worth the effort. I watched him get off the train after a few stops. The next day at work we talked and joked, but never mentioned the train. There is an unspoken agreement that you are not required to say hello. It balances the scales of peace and sanity in the work place.

The Case of The One-Night Stand

Threat Level: 8 — Prepare For Crash Landing

It is best to be as still as possible and not make any sudden movements. Try that or throwing your body against a wall and blending into the paint.

There is a reason this person only lasted one night. The fantasy and pleasure that comes from fucking a stranger deteriorates if you have to see them again. These people are supposed to remain as they were in the memories you had of that one blissful night. Then there’s the more realistic reason you wouldn’t speak to this person again — they were subpar in bed and it was a regrettable experience. Maybe it was a complete waste of clean sheets.

The beer goggles are off now, baby. The dim lighting in the bar you two met at was a lot better than the natural light of the sun on his or her face. Now that you can see who this person truly is, you still do not say hello.

Ignore the shit out of this person.

The Case of the High School Peer

Threat Level: 10 — THIS IS A CATEGORY FIVE HURRICANE. GET OUT OF THERE NOW. MOVE, MOVE, MOVE!

The worst of the worst. This person has seen you through your darkest days. They’ve seen your phases and the height of your stupid Facebook statuses before you realized the power of discretion. They know you used to be a cheerleader and that you lost your virginity in a car.

They know too much.

Maybe you’re the kind of person who is proud of who they used to be, but I’m sure not. If someone I knew from high school is coming to town I will board up the windows and flush my phone down the toilet. You ignore this person because they symbolize who you used to be and no longer see yourself as, or maybe you can’t get on board with their throwback Thursday posts you can’t untag yourself from.

In this scenario, you take all precautions to hide or run away. In a subway? Throw yourself onto the tracks and become one with the rat community. Near a fire escape? Climb out of the window and jump to the ground floor. No escape? Dive into the nearest garbage can. Self-destruct if possible. You avoid this person at all costs because it’s not that you have no shame, you have so much shame.