Awkward leaving question

Hi SD,

How do you handle saying goodbye to someone and then running into them again on the way out?

I recently saw a dear friend I had not seen in person in a very long time, and may not see again for another five or so years. We spent a good deal of time together at a party, and I expressed my affection for this person and wished them well on their journey. I said everything I wanted to say, and it was a sweet moment. Then we wished each other a fond farewell, and parted.

Then on my way out, I found myself involved in conversation with another couple. By the time I got to the elevator, my dear friend was there with me! My sweet goodbye was ruined! What could I say to them that I hadn’t said before, and more eloquently? Anything I would say now would either come off as trying too hard to recapture a moment that was gone forever, or just a lame attempt to find something to say.

I’ve had this situation happen before, many times, where I say goodbye to someone and then see them again on the way out. How do you follow up a goodbye (conceivably the end of an interaction) with another conversation? Can it ever be as good as the original goodbye? What do others do in this situation? You want the interaction to end on your terms, right? Not like, “ok, see you later,” in an elevator or something.

Yes, I know this is a silly thing to get worked up about, but I wonder if anyone else has ever wished they didn’t run into someone on the way out…you know, the party’s over, you’ve made your great impression, and now you have to get on stage again and perform.



Well, there’s a story about a 1930s New York luminary (writer? playwright?) who was given a huge send-off party for a European cruise expected to last for months. A few days later, one of the party-goers ran into him, as he hadn’t left yet. “Ah, Jones,” he said, “Forgotten but not gone, eh?”

I’d have found something inconsequential to chat about and parted (again) (finally) with something like, “It really was good to see you again.” Slightly true, slightly humorous, all sincere.

I don’t see the problem. You’ve had the moment and a long conversation.

If I bumped into them in the elevator I wouldn’t restart the conversation. Great the person. Make small talk for a minute or two. Exit elevator and leave.

If this is that good of a friend, it should not be awkward.

“It was great to see you again, are you leaving now? We should try to stay in touch” Hug, handshake or whatever is appropriate, and you are on your way.

This instantly made me think of this Mr. Show sketch. If you don’t have 6 minutes, you’ll get the gist of it in two…

This is why they invented the phrase “take luck.”

I’ve had a similar situation happen to me. I ran into a a coworker at the grocery store. We chatted for a few minutes then ended the conversation with: “Alright, see you at work!”

Only except, after the conversation was over, we kept running into each other in various aisles as we continued to do our shopping. Talk about awkward!

pianodave, are you following me?!

I just always make a joke out of it.

“Fancy still meeting you here.”

“What’s a nice guy / gal like you still doing hanging around a joint like this?”

That kind of thing. Works like a charm every single time.