The Onion recently ran a piece titled "Exit From Apartment Delayed 20 Seconds To Avoid Pleasantries With Neighbor". When I read it I laughed out loud - both at how crazy that sounds and how true it is.
I'm lucky to live in a nice building (8 units) where everyone gets along and is considerate and respectful. And I'm friendly with everyone when we pass in the hall or on the stoop (although I do seem to suffer from some kind of face blindness when I encounter a neighbor out of context, i.e. more than a block from our building). Yet, I still sometimes wait at my apartment door for someone to clear out of the hallway so I can avoid chit chat.
Why? I'm not sure! I suppose sometimes I'm in a bit of a hurry and I'd rather wait 10 seconds for them to be on their way than to potentially be entangled in a few minutes of neighborly conversation. Other times I find my body reflexively freezes at the door when I hear someone in the hall while my brain is asking "hey you - what are you doing? why did you stop?" And I don't have a good answer.
The Onion writer and I can't be the only ones who do this. Fess up - do you avoid your perfectly pleasant neighbors? Do you have a better explanation that I do? Is this an urban phenomenon or are there suburban and rural equivalents?