How close are you supposed to be to somebody before you say hi to them? Physically, that is. Emotionally is a topic probably best covered by a therapist with credentials on an individual basis. When walking down a long street, recognizing someone from a distance, at what point should I acknowledge their existence? I know you’re supposed to wait until you see the whites of their eyes before you try to shoot them in battle, but what of the people who have sunglasses or abnormally large pupils? I don’t feel that these people deserve any more or less attention. And really, I don’t think almost any of them deserve to get shot.
Let’s just talk specifically about two people walking at each other from a distance on the same side of the street, because walking perpendicular to one another or crossing on opposite sides of the street or being on the teacups at Six Flags carry too many variables to discuss. OK. You see him or her. All that is really required of your relationship at this point in time is maybe a little hello and some colorful “Ah. Went with the brown belt today, I see” type of bullshit comment with an appropriate bullshit reply. This interaction takes a maximum of 7 seconds if performed properly. However, engaged too late and you’ll find yourself turning around or stopping to finish a stupid reply like “I wouldn’t know. I shower with my bathing suit on.” Engaged too early and you’ll find yourself having to repeat phrases like “I SAID ‘YOU MISSED MUFFIN MONDAY AT PARADISE PASTRIES!’” While a decent ice-breaker, it’s completely lost all meaning when repeated over and over again, scrutinized for usable content.
There is a necessary half second that should be reserved for facial expression recognition. This is important to understand that your comment was taken in the context in which it was supposed to be taken. If there is any confusion over a phrase like “That’s why I beat my girlfriend,” some extra time may need to be taken to clear up your comment. Almost any comment can be stricken from the record with a little “Well, you know what I mean” or “I didn’t mean it in a bad way.”
So what is the correct distance for this transaction? As most people walk at a pace of about 7 miles/hour, they cover 616 feet/minute and 71.667 feet/7 seconds. So I’d recommend engaging at about 80 feet, or whenever you think you can get a good shot off, depending on how much ammo you have available.