Saturday, April 20, 2024

THE NETTE EFFECT: Meeting up with old friends


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I have some friends whose pet peeves are people nosily inquiring about their job.

​They are totally turned off by people whose first inquiry after not seeing you for a while is to find out what line of work you are in. My friends feel they’re being put under microscopic examination to determine their worthiness.

So you run into a former school pal or someone from the old neighbourhood. There’s that initial enthusiastic greeting and the “how you doing” and “how’s the family” exchange. Then they may ask you about where to find you and are genuinely pleased to have bounced into you. That’s okay.

Then there is the other type.

The type whom you believe will use your line of work to define you.

The type you hope not to make eye contact with since you were friends before and, having lost contact, are now in that awkward in-between stage. The ones who haven’t seen you for a while and now want to know: “Where you are now?”

You get that uncomfortable feeling as though they’re now sizing you up to conclude whether it’s worth the while to rekindle the acquaintance.

Yes, you may have been good enough to associate with in your last profession, but do you still have that status, their prying eyes seem to ask.

Locked into the close encounter, you are compelled to reveal what it is you are actually “doing now”. Then you wait for one of two reactions. Either, sweet relief will wash over their faces and you will get a “call me”, or the other party will start to look for an escape from the uncomfortable meeting.


​That is where I can empathise with my friends’ annoyance. Sometimes I feel as though people are deciding whether they will be “friends” with me based on my response to “what you doing now”.

Oh to have that “People You May Know” Facebook feature applied to real life situations.

I think American late-night TV host and comedian Jimmy Fallon expressed it aptly in this age of technology.

In his Friday night “Thank You” segment, he pointed out a most welcome feature of Facebook. Fallon said, “Thank you, the ‘People You May Know’ feature on Facebook, for being the online equivalent of seeing an old friend in the grocery store and avoiding eye contact.”

Isn’t that the truth?

I bet that we all wish that feature could be applied when we are on an outing and it is inevitable that we have to cross paths with someone we would rather not. You know, that point where it is obvious that avoiding eye contact has not worked for either party and the dreaded encounter is about to happen.

When this simple one-on-one sizing up takes place on a larger scale, that’s when it becomes a class issue, a debate now raging on Facebook.

But there are times when we retreat to our own corner with those whom we are most comfortable.

It may be based on skin colour, neighbourhood, job or family background.

However, that does not mean we cannot be human and understand that the same things we want, others want them too.

​​Happy birthday, Alexandra

​Belated happy birthday to the Alexandra School, that Beacon of the North.

My old school marked its 120th anniversary last Wednesday with a series of activities starting with a service at St Peter’s Parish Church.

For the next year the school will be hosting other events that include a flood-lit tattoo and a cricket match. There’s an awards ceremony scheduled for December 5.

Antoinette Connell is a News Editor.


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