So, I’m driving to work this morning, trying to beat my record-setting commute time I set yesterday morning (75 minutes…I live in Northern Virginia) when one of my “pet-peeves of driving” occur: as I’m exiting the interstate and merging onto a main road, this white truck in front of me decides to take the merge lane all the way down to the end and then merge over, which would essentially cut me off; considering I’ve already merged. Thoughts go racing through my head. Do I speed up and pass him, leaving him with the vibe that I don’t have time for his non-sense this early in the morning? No. Do I be polite and slow down, giving him plenty of space to safely merge over? HA…no. Or, do I be a complete dick and just idol right next to him, making him decide his own fate? Bingo. Well, my plan of being a complete dick backfired. Turns out traffic was backed up to the end of the merge lane, so I didn’t want to be a COMPLETE dick (yeah, there’s a difference between complete and COMPLETE) and leave him with no space whatsoever. Luckily I did, because that’s when I noticed it.
When both him and I came to a complete stop, I thought to myself, “this guy better give me the fucking wave for letting him in…” with my head resting in my hand. Sure enough he did exactly that. “Yeah, that’s right. You don’t want me to get out of this car”, I said under my breath, but then I realized his wave was very emphatic, almost like he knew me. I inch closer to his car to get a good look into his review mirror, when I realize, “holy shit – that’s so and so from Accounting…” Instant awkwardness ensues.
(You remember that time you were in middle school and you saw your teacher out in public? You probably did what any middle school kid did and froze as if your deceased grandmother just walked in front of you and then fled the scene, because god forbid you risk your popular status and get caught talking to her/him outside of class. Well, that feeling still applies when you’re driving and the person in front/behind/to the side of you is someone you know. You don’t know if you should make eye contact and wave awkwardly or just flat out ignore them, because fuck interacting with people.)
When I finally rid myself of the awkwardness, I realized I would have to follow him for the next 2-3 miles into work and most likely have to ride the elevator with him (fuck! What did I do to deserve this?!). From that moment on, I kept my distance from him. I didn’t want him to see my aggressive driving tactics: I drove a lot slower than I normally do; I came to a complete stop at stop signs, looking left, right, and then left again; I even allowed people who obviously got to the 4-way intersection before me go first. I tried everything, yet he was only one car ahead of me. I was doomed.
As we’re two blocks away from our building, my heart begins to pound. “I’m going to have to ask him what he’s doing for the weekend…” I thought to myself. (That’s my go to whenever I’m stuck, alone with a coworker I don’t usually talk to. If it’s Monday or Tuesday, I ask what they did the previous weekend. If it’s Wednesday or later, I ask what they’re doing the upcoming weekend. Works like a charm.) Suddenly, the truck pulls off and parks in front of this building where construction is going on (phew – dodged a bullet there!). I drive past the truck, not even bothering to look into the truck to see if it is So-and-So, and continue on my merry way.
Turns out it was exactly who I thought it was. He came in, asking what kind of car I drove, and we both had a nice little chuckle about following each other into work. Little did he know, that was the most awkward car ride of my life.
Why is it so awkward seeing people you work with outside of work? Is it the fact we all think they just live at work? At least that’s what I think…