The Art of Corriearklets

Art by Ashley

Turtles, snowmen, balloons, palm trees—which one does not belong? Answer: trick question. They all belong to the ever-growing list of awkward hand gestures that we invent to mitigate the impact of awkward encounters.

Ah, the Awkward Encounter. What an ambivalent relationship we have! While awkward encounters are uncomfortable to suffer through, they usually make pretty good stories.

But I noticed that the school setting takes the Awkward Encounter to a whole new level. Yes, we do occasionally stumble upon an awkward incident at the supermarket or in line for a cup of coffee. On the other side of the spectrum, we have schools: treasure troves of awkward encounters waiting to happen. From the wide hallways to the very situation of being in a swarm of acquaintances, most of whom you know by name and may be expected to greet, getting through a day without some sort of misplaced moment actually takes some effort.

My interest in analyzing the Awkward Encounter may be random, but I’m certainly not alone. In a slightly awkward hallway conversation, seniors Abigail Becker and Megan Gross referred me to a book called “A Deeper Meaning of Liff,” in which author Douglas Adams coins the term “corriearklet,” a word which refers to an incident along the lines of this:


I have a free period and decide to go work in the science building. I open the door to find an empty corridor, with the exception of an acquaintance coming toward me. She sees me, I see her. But it’s too early to say hi, so I pretend to not see her, instead paying close attention to the squirrel that always creeps around in Metzger Plaza.

A few moments later, I turn my head over and say “Hey!” as if I had just happened to see her at that very moment when we were in talking distance.


Or, this: Conference: the bell rings. I head towards my locker and find myself in the midst of dozens of people heading in different directions. Attempting to squeeze past a circle of girls in conversation while simultaneously looking out for other people trying to get by as well can be quite chaotic.

“Kristin!” I see someone waving at me.

I smile and respond with a greeting and a wave. Problem: the person I saw was waving to senior Christin Urso, who is standing right behind me.

My cat-like reflexes take over as I magically transform the wave to a semi-fluid hair pat.


Sound familiar? Corriearklets are quite prevalent in the Hockaday community. I see this in direct correlation with the amount of hallway  space we have. The longer our hallways are, the greater the possibility we have of running into people at inopportune distances. This is completely mathematical.

Perhaps I have raised one too many complaints without providing some sort of remedy. To be honest, my first reaction was to just let it be; why try to change something that seems almost inevitable?

But no! The overachieving Hockadaisy in me fought for a solution. I could not sit around stalking people on Facebook when such uncomfortable experiences lurked in the corners of my school hallways.

Unfortunately, after a good hour of brainstorming, I could not think of any solutions at all. So I asked my advisory for some ideas. And ideas they had.

Corriearklets always occur in hallways (hence the suffix “corrie” for corridor). So away with those! Hockaday could become a giant open space with those moving sidewalks you see in airports.

Alternatively, senior Rupsha Basu suggested that we could install a tram that connects the main building to the ARC, Penson Gym and science building to decrease the amount of hallway space in school. To add an educational twist, the tram operator could ask us trivia questions like in the TV show, Cash Cab.

But seeing as both of these options seem a little out of the school’s budget, corriearklets are here to stay. So I propose that this word become a part of the vernacular, just as “legit” and “sick” have. If we can’t get rid of awkward hallway encounters, we might as well have a cooler word for them.

– Kristen