Perfect Strangers

Perfect Strangers

That awkward moment when you step into the lift with the colleague you see in the corridor, at the coffee machine, at lunch, and because neither of you acknowledges the other, one of you takes up elevator-door-staring while the other fiddles with a smart phone.

That awkward moment when standing in the lift, each one pretending that the other does not exist, pretending that there isn’t a world where you both coexist, the lift jerks to a stop and the light goes out.

That awkward moment when phones act as torches and your fingers touch as you both reach for the alarm button, apologise and laugh self-consciously, and then make the same mistake again because neither of you can decide who should go first.

That awkward moment when you know you’ve spent too many nights watching Criminal Minds and Crime Scene Investigation, because in the dim light, your colleague looks like Frankenstein’s monster and you expect a switchblade to suddenly appear.

That awkward moment when crisis forces both of you to skip introductions and attempt chitchat that lacks the finesse of children forging new friendships, to manage the silence which otherwise would stretch to infinity.

That awkward moment when like a steam train your chitchat sputters to an unsteady start so you ask, “How’s work in legal?” And silence follows because your colleague responds, “Fine and where do you work?” making you aware that in this game of show me yours and I’ll show you mine, you’ve just been outwitted.

That awkward moment when anger that you mask, masks the hurt you feel because there are no perks in being treated like a wallflower, unnoticed by someone with whom you share 5000 square footage in a twelve-storey office building.

That awkward moment when your colleague clears his throat and admits that he’s seen you over at finance but wasn’t sure as he’d also seen you in sales. His words placed like a winning serve, are honest words that deserve your applause.

That awkward moment when you confirm what you’ve always known: you are not claustrophobic. Trapped for ten minutes in a lift, with a stranger, you have not begun to pull your hair. Instead, you have discovered things about yourself that you can now define.

That awkward moment when the fluorescent bulb flickers to life causing you to blink, but not filling you with relief. You see your colleague as the lift ascends and wonder why you never thought to greet each other in bright, wide, open spaces, as if either of you would lose points for being the first to say hello.

That awkward moment when the lift slows and tings as the display stops at number seven and you look at your colleague, nod and then smile because words would get in the way of the silence that you have both come to accept. A dysfunction in technology has made your world not only smaller but also richer.

That awkward moment when you realise independence is not all its hyped up to be. Although you have been striving for independence all along, interdependence—the union of independent minds in mutually beneficial harmony—is the greater prize.

That awkward moment happened to me.


©Timi Yeseibo 2013

image credit: ©Timi Yeseibo 2013

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23 thoughts on “Perfect Strangers

    1. Thanks Aka. @self-dependence, read the post, very informative; thanks for sharing. In the context of nation building, indeed, as the writer asks, “…what is independence without self-dependence?”
      I suppose for relationships to work, we need all three…


    1. We’ve all had our fair share haven’t we? I’m not having one right now, but… that awkward moment when you want to write a witty reply, but your brain freezes on you! Cheesy? I know! 🙂


      1. I’ll magnanimously cut you some slack dear..Lol…
        So much for awkward moments…queen of witty expressions like you…

        Thanks for the Like…reports reaching me has it that you paid a courtesy visit…much appreciated ma’am.


  1. Well said! You certainly don’t lose points for being the first to say hello. Great post!
    Timi you could do a good short story from this you know. Obviously make the time in the lift longer and would be great to see the unfolding of the encounter when the lights come back on.
    I just wanted to read more I guess….that awkward moment 😊👍


    1. lol! That awkward moment when the reader wants to read more and the writer can’t write more!

      It’s a good suggestion Afi, thanks. It tells me you found the post engaging. I’ll look into it for the future.


  2. Don’t you just love the way life has of unmasking our pretensions and making us deal with the nitty gritty stuff – yes it makes us richer but only after embarrassing the hell out of us – ha ha – great post


    1. It is, isn’t it Ifeanyi? We don’t have to be bestfriends, we just need to acknowledge the people we see every day… a nod will even do. Thanks for stopping by.


  3. Timi, that was so true! Being the first to say hello at times seems so difficult when it shouldn’t really be. We are learning! it is not just you only; me too!


  4. Oh-oh 😆 I love the comic display that preceded this post — it’s so funny! I admit I’ve feigned independence a couple of times while on the inside, I was the man getting to the edge of the cliff, crying out for help.

    Self-worth is important, but when we get egoistic that becomes a problem.


    1. You’re a brave one for admitting it 🙂 kudos to you … I keep reminding myself that- life is too short, the world is too small, and I don’t lose points for being the first to say hello! Thank you Uzoma.


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