I was in the grocery store recently when I spotted my friend Karen1 with another woman. We met up with each other in the yoghurt section, and I said hello to Karen, but Karen didn’t introduce me to her companion.
Which, normally, I would have thought was rather odd.
But Karen works as an aide to a woman with intellectual disabilities. And I suspect that she’s used to people pretending that the woman with her doesn’t exist, or expressing no interest in her, or behaving rudely, and so got in the habit of not introducing people2. Despite the fact that, as a general rule, when you are with someone and you encounter someone else and everyone does not know each other, introductions are in order.
So, I turned to Karen’s companion and said “hello, I don’t believe we have been introduced.”
Her companion had been staring into the contents of the shopping cart, but she looked up when I spoke, and she smiled.
“Oh,” Karen said. “This is Nina3.”
“Hi Nina,” I said. “It’s a pleasure to meet you. I’m s.e..”
Acknowledging the existence of another human being doesn’t need to be hard.