This is not a question about how to say no to street vendors. I specifically want to know how I can avoid interacting with a particular person who just happens to be a street vendor. He could be any other person I meet on the subway every day, and not necessarily a street vendor. So please don't close this question as a duplicate of an earlier question.
I am a second-generation American of Middle Eastern/ South Asian origin working in a big city in the USA where there is a subway.
Usually someone is selling newspapers in the morning.
For the past year there has been this creepy-looking person (in my opinion) selling newspapers. This person looks like a cunning criminal type. Although I cannot give you 'evidence' of this, it is my 'gut feeling' which we are encouraged to trust while encountering a stranger.
He tends to go up to people, say hello, ask them for a high-five. I even see people stop and talk to him.
Then last year when I was minding my own business, he came up to me and asked for a high-five.
I was really scared of saying "no" because one time when I refused someone who was soliciting money, they got really aggressive and I almost had to call the cops on them. [I and my family do not have good experiences with officials and prefer not to involve any officials in this matter.]
So for a year I reluctantly gave high-fives and acted like I was happy about it.
Then a few months ago I saw a video on computer security and the person presenting it said something interesting, "You are an adult, say no".
So the next day when I was in the subway and this person wanted a high-five I gave a thumbs up and said this is easy for me. Then he thought I am celebrating Ramadan, hence I am not giving high-five (I look Muslim, plus I wear long skirts). He asked if I am fasting for Ramadan and I said yes, just to end the conversation right then and there.
Now it's way past Ramadan, and the person jokingly asks for high-five. I am polite and say, "have a nice day".
Believe it or not, many 2nd generation Americans retain a lot of mindset (for better or worse) from their ancestral country. Plus I keep hearing that acid attacks are now coming to Western countries like France and the UK. My ancestral background is from a culture where such attacks against women are not uncommon. So honestly, I am really scared of random interactions with unknown people. I also want to avoid angering anyone.
I wish I can smile and give a friendly nod and pass by: but not talk or give him a high-five. My concern is, if I interact with him more, my boundaries will be overstepped and I won't know how to de-escalate. It is hard to ignore a person who you have no choice but to pass by each day, if he oversteps my boundaries.
Many members have commented that my fears about this person seem irrational. I don't think they are irrational but that argument doesn't invalidate my question anyway because I have a right to avoid him if I want to, whatever the reason. To get around that controversial point let us simply assume that I am extremely shy and want to avoid interacting with this person for that reason: how do I do it tactfully without antagonizing this person? Please address that aspect rather than my possible motivations.
QUESTION: How to avoid interacting with this person and how can I politely communicate my lack of interest verbally or non-verbally (preferred) without upsetting him, myself, or any surrounding people?