Through sheer grit and the strategic use of headphones, New York introvert Matthew Lister successfully managed to avoid making eye contact with anyone at his workplace for over three years, before transitioning to a remote position.
Matthew wasn't unfriendly, emphasized his colleague Melissa Smith. According to her, Matthew was a master of the downward-facing wave, which he pulled off terrifically well when forced to do so by a particularly exuberant co-worker who insisted on calling out a greeting.
"It was actually kind of endearing," said the extroverted Melissa, her enthusiasm undampened by the fact that her repeated friendly attempts to draw even the smallest of small talk from Matthew met with reticence at best or, at worst, outright passive-aggressive hostility.
As Melissa tells it, another of Matthew's failsafe methods of avoiding workplace interaction was conspicuously wearing earbuds at all times, even when simply going to the office kitchen area for tea. (Matthew was not a coffee drinker.) Complex-looking transactions on his cell phone additionally demanded a great deal of Matthew's visual attention, diverting him from even incidental meetings of others' eyes.
After three years of successfully avoiding eye contact at his workplace, Matthew's bosses, impressed by his work product and his focus, responded positively to Matthew's request, made via email, to transition to a full-time remote position - resulting in a marked decrease in the overall awkwardness level at the Midtown Manhattan office.
Not everyone, though, was happy to see Matthew go.
"I was determined to crack him," said Melissa. "One smile, one unsolicited greeting, that's all I needed!." She gave a rueful shrug. "Well, can't win 'em all. New York's a tough town."