Tuesday, July 31, 2012

People Who Tell You to Smile: A Rant

Today I stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few items.  As I gazed confusedly at five different kinds of raspberry tea bags, a man dropped some coffee into his cart, then came over and said, "Hey!  Don't look like that!  Smile!  Ya gotta keep smilin'!"

And I did not beat him to death with a stalk of celery.  But it was a near thing.

You see, I wasn't upset about anything; I was thinking, and I was wearing my thinking face, which is a serious damn face.  I was trying to remember which kind of that raspberry tea had tasted icky and which kind produced the best iced tea ever.  All of the boxes are pink and, well, raspberry-colored, so it takes a bit of concentration to avoid the icky.  What it does not take, or even invite, is a damn smile.  I mean, seriously, who stands in front of rows of tea, trying to figure out which one is the icky one with a stupid smile on her face? 

(Please don't comment that you wander around the grocery store smiling up a storm, particularly in the tea aisle; that was a rhetorical question.  Plus, you sound a little creepy.)

And, you know, he's not the first gentleman to hit me with the "Smile!" command this week.  As you know from a previous post, I spent a long time in purgatory (aka the Newark Airport) Sunday, and, frankly, smelling like blueberry-flavored vomit with shoes dunked in pee does not provoke grins.  Yet, there he was, another person who thought he could turn around my whole damn day by telling me that "Things aren't so bad!  Smile!  Can't you smile?  Oh, go ahead and try, try!  Just relax and smile."

Listen, dude, I wasn't in the mood to smile.  When I'm pleased or enjoying myself or even meeting someone, sure, I give out the grins.  Hell, sometimes I giggle.  But you don't have the right to force me to smile if I don't want to, and the more you try to jolly me along, the more I want smack you sideways, so please stop it.

Moreover (because clearly I'm ranting now), what if you pull that crap on someone who's had a worse day than mine?  What if that someone has just lost a loved one or been diagnosed with a serious illness or had a giant poplar tree fall on her house?  Do you know how damned annoying and infuriating it would be to be told to stop feeling whatever such a person was feeling to smile?

I realize that I'm a lucky person.  I have a job I love and friends and family who love me and a house to live in and food, etc, etc...and on most days I will indeed greet all and sundry with cheeriness.  But going around telling strangers to smile does not make the world a better place; it makes you irritating at best and occasionally obnoxious, so please, People Who Command Other People to Smile:  cut it the hell out.

Thank you.

1 comment:

  1. This is near the top of my ever-growing list of pet peeves. I get the "Smile! It can't be that bad," command from guys that come into my work almost every day. I am in a customer service position so I cannot tell them where to go, regardless of how much I smile while doing so. There are much more pleasant ways to initiate conversation. Telling someone whom you are not even remotely acquainted with to smile is not charming. You are right, it is creepy and obnoxious. I am not a damn clown. I smile when the occasion calls for it and receiving an unsolicited pleasantry from a total stranger is hardly such an occasion. However, your blog made me smile. It's nice to know I'm not the only one with just a tiny bit of animosity towards these people.