Word on a Whim

Oh to be invisible, or to always know what to say …

Sometimes I wish I were invisible … or had better social skills.

Running is meditation for fidgety types and I have enjoyed it for the best part of thirty years but still feel a wally when I meet anyone, especially if it’s someone I recognise.  The worst scenario is seeing a neighbour in the distance, approaching along a straight lane.  Does it look silly the way I am swinging my arms?  Would it look sillier if I kept them still? At what point am I supposed to start smiling at them?  Running for half a mile grinning like an idiot can’t be right, so should I grimace at the road right until the last minute then look up and shout “Hello” just as we cross paths?  There is also the issue that I never feel “Hello” is enough and so end up talking about the weather or something – which leads on to the awkwardness of saying “Goodbye” and then suddenly sprinting off again.  Worse still is when I start to catch up with someone who is ‘jogging’ as opposed to ‘running’.  I feel a bit of a bitch for overtaking, like I’m showing off or trying to make them look slow but I have to go at my natural pace, which is variable but generally slower these days.  My stock remark when overtaking other runners is, “Did you think you’d got an echo?  Ha ha.”

The awkwardness must be something to do with self-consciousness about being seen in motion.  At work, I don’t seem able to walk across the office without checking my watch, messing with my hair or straightening clothes as I go along.

This evening, whilst walking the dog, I had the running scenario in slow motion.  There was an old gent approaching very slowly with the aid of two walking sticks.  I was very conscious of the dog poo bags swinging from my left hand (I’ve never been the designer handbag type!) and I could see he was drawn to them.  Although the bags are black, there is something about the contours and pendulous nature that makes the contents instantly recognisable.  And this evening, I had been blessed with four offerings.

“Who’s taking who a walk?” he asked (which is a common variation on “Why don’t you put a saddle on his back?”)

“More like ‘Who’s taking poo a walk?’” I answered, with a little flourish of my trophies. He chuckled, bless him, but I cringed at myself afterwards.

I think it’s something to do with the village mentality; where people who know nothing about each other exchange pleasantries (or sometimes unpleasantries if you’re as socially inept as I am).  When I lived in Leeds, some years ago now, people I didn’t know would have thought I was nuts if I shouted “Hello” at them whilst running past. 



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8 thoughts on “Oh to be invisible, or to always know what to say …

  1. mumanisnowhere on said:

    Lol on the old guy and the poo bags. Yes live in a town and enjoy relative anonymity, live in a village and its gossip verse. As Buddha said in his first noble truth ‘Life is unsatisfactory’. We try to make our lives comfortable or exciting yet we can never escape life sending us curve balls (checks sack nope mine are fine :-)) like bucolic bosses, or stupid unthoughtful noisey neighbours ( and fuckin American dictionaries that want me to take ‘u’ out of neighbours). Pity for us….. well me, introverts who like our own space… the world is such a crowded place o to be a socialite…..nope glad I am a miserable bastard who is working on letting go of the approval of others :-).
    Good post Jules.

  2. mumanisnowhere on said:

    ps Love your honesty 😉

  3. Thank you Muman!
    I’m not entirely sure what that post is about – just a bit of a ramble really. Perhaps it should have been a tribute to Sir Jimmy from the start, rather than turning it into one at the end.

  4. I know what you mean about the self conscious stuff. I feel the same too. No confidence in myself at all, and that includes how I look. I have days where I don’t care and go about my business with aplomb, but some days when I am so ‘aware’ of myself physically it’s quite off putting.
    Another good post Jules 🙂

  5. Thanks Simon,
    I’ve just read your latest post – and I think there is a similar thread with needing the confidence to perform in front of an audience. Although that’s a few steps up from needing the confidence to walk/run down the lane without feeling a wally!

  6. I can so identify with what you’re saying here, Jules. And I don’t think it is simply being self conscious, though I think that plays a big part, well it does for me anyway. I have at times been unbearably self conscious, but we learn to deal with it slowly over time. But I think it’s also about being very aware of other people, and the fact that we all have an effect on each other. If you’re very aware of that it can be difficult to ignore, though social etiquette tells us that we should ignore it for the most part. We are all living our own lives after all.

    I’ve often envied people that just go about their day in a very single minded fashion, fully aware of the fact that it is perfectly ok to be like that…. which it is! I don’t mean selfish or inconsiderate, but more just focused on what they’re doing. The kind of people that, even if they knew you, wouldn’t stop to chat if they were out jogging, because hey, they’re out jogging. And it wouldn’t seem rude coming from them. Me, I’d have to stop and babble for at least 10 minutes… or until I was sure they’d had enough 😉

  7. Bless you Dean, you have a way of defining what I’m trying to say when I’m not too sure myself. Try not to wear yourself out by pleasing everyone all of the time. Sometimes you just gotta f*ck’em. With an asterisk 😉

  8. Why does it have to interpret the smilie and then put it in the wrong place!

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