Off Balance

One thing I really enjoy is keeping people off balance. If you look real close at the behavior of human beings, you’ll find that at least half of it is based on the prediction of what others will do. The way we communicate is like a tactfully planned out game. And this game has rules that we expect each other to follow, so when someone suddenly breaks a rule, we’re left going, “Wait, wha?…that’s not…what I was expecting.”

*walks over to neighbor’s house*



“How ‘ya doin’?”

“Terrible, actually.”

“Good to hear, good to hea—wait, wha?”

“I said I’m doing terrible. ‘Cause…that’s how I’m doing.”

“Oh…I was…kinda expecting you to say good. Sorry.”

“Yeah, well I’m not.”


“Look. I just came over here to ask you for some salt ‘cause we ran out of some, so…if you could just hand that over…”

*expression of shock and disdain.*

We ask how people are doing even though we don’t really care all of the time. It’s an act of courtesy. Something that’s expected before you start a conversation, especially when it involves favors. It’s funny realizing how we really feel when things don’t go as planned. We don’t really care how the person is doing most of the time. They could have just stubbed their toe, broken up with their girlfriend, or lost their cat down an elevator shaft for all we care.  We just walked over there for some dang salt.

It always sucks when they actually respond with a sincere answer. Especially one that requires more of you than you feel like you’ve bargained for with your courteous question. Or should I say statement? It’s really more of a statement that you expect an automated response to.

Having your norm be disrupted feels off-putting or even chuckle-inducing, (depending on your outlook on life).

But what’s even more fun is being the one to disrupt it.

People don’t expect it, so it’s really funny to see the look on their faces and the response they decide to go with.

Just today I turned sitting in after-work rush hour traffic into something at least slightly enjoyable. I was derping along, tapping to the beat of a song on my steering wheel to diffuse my annoyance at staying in almost the same place for three minutes, when I turned to my right and found a guy staring at me intensely. He was practically glaring.  For what reason I don’t know. (Maybe his way of diffusing annoyance?)

When people stare at you they usually either turn away quickly themselves or expect you to. This guy was clearing expecting me to, so naturally, I turned it into a staring contest which lasted all of three seconds until I burst out laughing.

What were we even doing?

Why was he so unhappy?

Had he sensed how off beat I was?

I waved and smiled at him to see what he would do, and to my delight he laughed and waved back. The transformation on his face was stunning. He went from miserable to giddy in two seconds flat, and all it took was a wave from a weird stranger. I think everybody just needs a break from the norm sometimes. You shouldn’t be the one afraid to break it.

I’m sure not.


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