How To Avoid The Inevitable ‘Stop And Chat’’

‘Sorry, Can’t Stop, I’m On The Phone To A Really Important Person’ (AKA no one)

How To Avoid The Inevitable ‘Stop And Chat’'

by Eve Simmons |
Published on

‘Fess up. We’ve all done it. Whether it’s the imaginary incoming phone call, the ‘staring intently at your phone looking all serious’ tactic, or just shamelessly pretending you’re mind is way too important and preoccupied to notice the person waving/smiling right in front of you, we’ve all experimented with at least one.

Now, i’m generally a social kinda girl. Always having jokes with the work security guard; makes friends in a lift - I mean, Vanita from Waitrose will definitely be invited to my wedding. However. There comes a point in my day when I am left to revel in the endless spiral of my own (usually anxious) thoughts and all external reality smushes into one big blur of coffee-carrying Nick Grimshaw clones. Granted, this period of time is often disturbing (and now Grimmy gives me the creeps), but however indulgent, it is so, so precious. Unsurprisingly, when this ‘me’ time is at all compromised, I have a tendency to become a little irrational.

Imagine this. It’s 8am, the sun is beaming but it’s so cold that your nipples are basically pumice. You’re late for work (standard) and you’re trying your best to simultaneously lick the toothpaste dribble off your housemate’s jumper (that you stole) and stick your half-broken headphones in your ears. Finally, the toothpaste gets to crust stage - that’ll do - and Spotify shuffle delivers a Britney banger. Things are lookin’ up.

Then suddenly, out of know where, your flash of tranquility is savagely snatched at your very fingertips as you feel a pointy poke on your right shoulder.

Oh, for fuck’s sake.

It’s only next door neighbor Neil who ALSO happens to be on his way to work and ALSO happens to be catching the same train as you and ALSO happens to be getting off at exactly the same stop. Don’t get me wrong, Neil’s a good guy, but do I really want to listen to the minor details of your weekend trip to Go Ape at 8 o clock in the morning? No Neil, I don’t. Let’s be totally honest, all we really want to do during our morning commute is nab a seat, listen to vintage Beyoncé and try our best to pull out a wedgie without anyone seeing. IS THAT SO MUCH TO ASK, NEIL?!

I hereby challenge you to win back your valuable commute time and resist the temptation (or guilt-ridden pang) to stop and chat. It’s taken a good few years - and a couple of haters - but my ability to avoid the stop and chat has pretty much reached it’s peak. I’m talking one stop and chat a month - absolute max. Here’s five ingenious ways to guaranteed anti-social success…

1. Commit To Your Decision

There’s nothing worse than a half-arsed attempt to avoid the stop and chat. Don’t let that conscious sneak in when you least expect it and trick you into being friendly. If you spot a Neil and decide to ignore the doom that’s about to erupt, choose your avoidance route and for heaven’s sake stick to it. There’s no use crossing the road, catching their eye and cracking out a whopping great over-compensatory smile. That’s just plain rude.

2. Your Phone Is Your Shield

The beauty of the phone as a weapon in the stop and chat defense, is that it doesn’t even have to have battery!! ‘Is that Neil in the distance? I dunno maybe, can’t really see, oh wait mum’s calling, i’d better get that…’ Works. Every. Time.

3. A Smile Only Opens Up A Can Of Worms

Only two things can happen if you dare to grin. One - you’re forced to stop and chat as Neil thinks you’re happy to see him and therefore very interested in his extreme sporting activities. Two - you immediately regret the smile and try to counter it with a ‘non-emotional’ expression. Although, 90 per-cent of the time, the anti-dote expression is an aggressive frown. Now Neil thinks that you fancy the bin man and that you’ll irrationally angry at a pine tree. He also thinks you’re a maniac. NO SMILING.

4. You’re Much Too Busy And Important

Think Miranda in Sex And The City. That should always be your go-to ‘stop and chat avoidance’ face. Remember, no one else has access to your diary and as far as Neil knows, you could be about to enter the most important work meeting of your entire life. Of course you don’t have five minutes to forge an interest in his zip wiring abilities. Only you know the nightmare that awaits you at your desk (a pot of Pret porridge and your Twitter feed).

5. A Book Is A MUST

A brilliant back-up plan and especially good for train or bus journeys as they tend to hide your face. No recognition means zero potential for stop and chat - the ultimate dream. A hard-back is preferable as you’re fucked if the ends of your old, scuffed library book get wet in the rain. It also makes you look clever and interesting to other interesting commuters (i.e not Neil).

6. If All Else Fails, Take Shelter In Topshop

Or Starbucks, or Prêt, or - if needs must - that dodgy butchers round the corner. If you dash in quick enough, no one will ever know. If you’re dedicated to the cause, you may choose to strategically plan the route from the station to your office (aka danger zone) so that there is at least one non-dangerous, non-stinky shop for you to escape into should the very worst happen. Tread carefully guys, it’s treacherous out there.

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Follow Eve On Twitter: @EvieSimm

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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