Advice Column

How do I avoid someone I don’t want to see or talk to or hear about ever again? What if they’re in my school? What if they’re in my year? What if they’re in my major????? (they’re not in my major, but what if????)

- Chameleon Wannabe

Safari LTD
Safari LTD

Hi there, Chameleon Wannabe! Sorry to hear about your situation. That sounds like quite a tough situation, definitely not helped by the size of the school. Given that most classes these days are online, it’s a bit easier to avoid someone even if they’re in your school or year!

So long as you don’t have a class with them, you should be set, but what if…they’re in your major so you have to have a class with them or worse…they just happened to be put in class with you! How dare they mix majors and years in a school priding itself on its interdisciplinary prowess. Well then that’s a bit more of a challenging problem. Ideally, you could just transfer to another section, but that seems too easy, let’s say you HAVE to take this class and there’s no way around it.  Assuming it’s a lecture class, just make sure your Zoom or teams call is set to speaker view only so you don’t need to look at the grid and catch a glimpse of their face. You can zone out to the soothing sights and sounds of your professor’s class. OH NO, this person has to present and you have to see/listen them present their work or ask a question! Quick fix, feign internet issues and duck out for a good 15 minutes, there’s no way they’re going over 15 minutes and if they are, they’re trying too hard and should probably go to the writing center to get better at being concise with their words. You can also go the full asynchronous route where you only watch recordings of the class to do your learning, but I doubt you’d enjoy that — way too much pressure on yourself.

This one is a bit more hypothetical now, but lets say that we’re back to in person classes or this person happens to live in your area. If you know that you see them at a certain spot, avoid that spot. Given that NYC is on a grid plan, taking a different street or a block will give you the chance to check out a different corner of the neighborhood with a minimal opportunity cost of the time saved on your original route, assuming you ran the optimization on your commute. The same principle can be applied to the NAB, while its amorphous plan doesn’t quite help out with this strategy, you can still do it! Find your new favorite quiet bathroom in the NAB, discover the fancy new lounges they put down in the corners. The world (NAB and/or neighborhood) is your oyster!

Some easier options are to block said individual on all social media platforms and let your friends know about this so they don’t accidentally ruin your day, and if they don’t help you with this, then maybe they were only in it for the money and not the game. I’m sure someone on the sixth floor could help you out with erasing this person from the internet, but I feel like that would be more of a service for them than you. Would still help though!

Last but certainly not least, say you want to go the full survival of the fittest evolutionary adaptation route a la the humble chameleon. Change your clothes and general appearance to match your surroundings. The NAB is a very safe mix of concrete gray and table white, the artists can @ me later if someone wants to argue on the shade. So just wear some comfy gray clothes and a white top to blend in. If you wanna commit to this, then get on that body paint thing and match your skin tone to your surroundings as well. Don’t forget to always have earbuds in so you don’t have to hear about this person, or anything upsetting really. This is something I’d recommend to anyone really. I’ve been operating under the assumption that this individual is a student, but most of these methods still apply for almost any other type of person that you might come across. Hope this helps, Chameleon Wannabe!


Fly on the wall that’s honestly a little bit anxious from the presence of a chameleon

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