Anyone who has been on public transport will know that making eye contact with other people is the worst thing you can do. Here are some experiences that have taught me to never, ever, make eye contact with strangers.
The Creepy Dude
Have you ever been serenaded with an Eminem song? I have. And let me tell you, it is not romantic. Especially when the song in question is Superman. In his defence, he left out the worst parts.
The singer was a particularly sketchy looking man, carrying his belongings in a plastic bag, and I had accidentally made eye contact with him while on the tram on my way home from school. Let me just add that I was not one of those teenagers who looks older than they are; I still look like I should be in high school and I looked even younger then, which made this interaction even creepier.
The singing was followed by his attempts at making conversation and then he asked for my number. I politely declined and left the tram as quickly as possible.
The Religious Fanatic
It’s not only creepy guys who you should avoid eye contact with. There are all sorts to avoid, and one of them is the religious fanatic. This particular incident – there have been many, I must look like I need saving – happened in Montreal, Canada.
There’s a church there that is a tourist attraction, and I emphasise that they want tourists to visit – it even has escalators inside.
While walking around, I looked up and caught the eye of a woman I presumed worked there. After all, she was carrying an almost life-size crucifix, and who would do that if they didn’t work in a church?
Turns out, she didn’t work there, she was just an enthusiast, as I discovered when she told me she attended church twice daily, and I should have realised by the fact she was CARRYING A CRUCIFIX.
She proceeded to grill me on the ten commandments, and when she found me lacking in knowledge, delivered the verdict that I was, in fact, going to hell and taking all of my friends and family with me. Sorry guys!
Little Miss Nosy
Another public transport tale: this was a women sitting opposite me on the tram. It’s hard to completely avoid eye contact with someone who is sitting directly opposite you, and your knees are practically touching. But you should still try, and this is why.
Soon after our accidental meeting of the eyes, this woman had asked so many questions about my life, she knew me better than most of my close friends. My family isn’t particularly weird and we don’t really have any secrets, but I was shocked at her lack of boundaries. So shocked I didn’t even think to not answer. She wanted to know what my parents did for a living, details of my father’s death, inside information on family rifts, and every other personal detail you could think of.
The Drunk Kid
When I say kid, I mean 18 or 19, but no matter his age, making eye contact with drunk people is generally a bad idea. Unless you’re drunk as well, then it might be the start of a beautiful friendship.
But in this case, it was a series of strange compliments. Such as guessing my job was a secretary because he thought I was pretty. Umm, what? He also said I should be careful walking up the street by myself, because “if he was a paedophile, he would definitely snatch me”. I didn’t even know where to start with telling him what was wrong with that!
These are just a few experiences I’ve had that have stemmed from making eye contact over the years. What I have learned is to avoid making eye contact at all costs, or invest in a pair of really dark sunglasses.
Words by Kate Milton.