I hate goodbyes

So…don’t hate me. I fully intended to post my wedding recap yesterday, but I want it to be nice and I haven’t had time to get it right yet. I’M SORRY.

Hopefully this weekend. Sorry.

In other news, you’ll be glad to know that even while galavanting around Europe, I was still at the mercy of public transportation on a regular basis. Fortunately, all of the trains and metros I took were crises-free, but one encounter got me thinking about something.

We had just gone to a meeting in Barcelona, and on the train home a girl who had also been there came up to us and introduced herself. We were chatting amicably about the Netherlands (where she was from) and New York, and she was mid-sentence when she realized we were at her stop, interrupted herself to say “bye,” and took off.

It was a bit abrupt, and in any other circumstance would have seemed rude at best. But since we were on the train, it was just the way things are.

Similarly, while waiting on the platform the other morning in Long Island, two people who obviously hadn’t seen each other in a while started catching up in front of me. The guy was, again, in the middle of a thought, when the train pulled up and the woman realized she wasn’t in the right spot on the platform. Without waiting for him to finish his sentence, she said, “Oops, gotta go, bye!” And took off. Again, kind of impolite.

Then again, when you think about it, these women probably did the most polite thing you could do. Pretty much everyone has experienced the awkward moment when you say goodbye on the train (or in an elevator) too early, only to be left standing with the person for another 20 seconds or so. There’s that painful “well, technically we’ve parted ways so the conversation is over but we haven’t literally parted so now it seems like I just don’t want to talk to them” conundrum. At least these women had the decency to dedicate every remaining second of their time to the person they were talking to before dashing off abruptly. But it still didn’t feel quite right, you know?

And so, we’re left with the question: What is the optimal time to end a train conversation?

I think the best thing to do is have an exit strategy. Give yourself a good 30-45 seconds before your actual departure to bid adieu and say things like, “We really have to get together soon!”, and then start moving. Even if you’re just going to another spot on the platform or a different door in the car, put actual distance between the two of you so it feels like you’re really leaving somewhere.

Just be aware. There’s nothing more embarrassing than to make a big show of moving to the far right door of the car only to have to walk back to the left once you get on the platform. There are giant windows. The person will see you.

Guess this is why parting is such sweet sorrow. Or at least awkwardness.

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