But here's where it has a potential to get awkward: What if there is no context? What if you have no reason to be talking to this particular person? Should you always say goodbye after random conversations?
The random-conversation-with-strangers-thing happens a lot in Georgia. Usually it's kinda nice and mostly uneventful, but I sometimes feel awkward when the random conversation stops or when I have to walk away from the stranger.
This happened at a Golden Dragon Acrobats show Keith and I saw last recently. We had pretty good seats at the outdoor amphitheater (it was super hot out!). Fifteen minutes before the show, our row was looking pretty empty. A few moments later, a woman talking on a cell phone came walking down the aisle towards us. Although mostly all of the seats were empty at that time, her ticket--of course--was for the seat right next to mine. For the next five minutes, there was nobody around us except for my new elbow buddy to my right. And my poor artistic rendering below does not accurately illustrate the awkwardness of the situation. Let's just say, in real life, none of us looked like stick figures. We were one couple and one stranger squished together in a sea of empty seats.
Since the woman was talking on her cell, I heard, when I wanted to, everything she was saying. I was in and out of conversation with Keith, so I didn't hear every word, and it wasn't like I was intentionally eves-dropping. But my awkward radar is always on, picking up tense moments are uncomfortable silences everywhere within my line of sight and range of hearing. This one was only inches away. I saw her hand go over her mouth and heard the volume of her voice drop. This call was about to get interesting:
"Keesha, it was all rolled up like a Vienna sausage," she whispered into her phone.
The person she was talking to had to have been deaf. I could hear the sentence clearly, but for some reason, Keesha could not. The woman to my side let out a few embarrassed oh-my-god-why-am-I-telling-this-story-in-public giggles, and attempted to retransmit the information.
"I said: Keeshaaaaaah, it was...ALL...ROLLED...UP...like a Vienna sausage!
She had to repeat this phrase a few more times for the person on the other line, and then she ended the conversation shortly thereafter. Don't ask what they were talking about; I was unable to discern any more information. One could hypothesize, though...haha!
Anyway, after that, more people started to fill in the empty chairs around us, the awkwardness subsided (for the meantime), and the show started. It was pretty a good show, too, which meant that expressions of awe and amazement were shared with the stranger closely seated to my right. By exchanging little remarks like, "How is he still walking after that!?" and "Hahaha! Holy crap!" and, during intermission, "What kind of food do they got up there?" we became less than strangers. But we never learned each others' names, and this presented some problems when the show was over. How do you say goodbye to someone you don't really know? It felt like I should have said something, but here's what I couldn't say:
Nice to meet you.--I never really met her and didn't know anything about her.
Hope you enjoyed the show!--I don't work there, and it's not up to me to hope she enjoyed the show.
Well, it was nice watching the show with you! *Followed by a wave or handshake.*
That last one could have worked. But the show was over, and my brain isn't that fast when I'm trying to not be awkward. Instead, it just goes, "BLAAAH!" and I walk quickly away, which I did...and probably came across as rude. But, what else are you going to do when you're the over-analyzing Queen of Uncomfortable Situations?
Pictures of the neat-o fan I got from the Golden Dragon Acrobats "Cirque D'Or" show!
Part Two coming soon (I promise?).