Hey, now, smile! What could be that bad?
If you’re one of those people who walks up to random strangers and says stuff like that, stop it. You might think you’re being friendly or outgoing, but the truth is, you’re being mean. What you might see as an icebreaker or a friendly way to start some small talk with someone is actually a verbal attack.
Random Dude just planted himself near me while he waited for his drink at Starbucks; I’m sitting here working (or pretending to; Facebook and Fark are attracting a lot of my attention) and not engaging in either happy or sad thoughts. I’m just sitting here, minding my own business. For whatever reason, he felt compelled to tell me to not frown; I should smile, life is good!
Well…fark you, Random Dude. This is my face, like it or not. My mouth has a slight natural downturn to it, so no; I’m not always sitting here with a perpetual smile on my face. I’m not sad, I’m not angry; this is what I look like. Insinuating I must be upset is akin to telling me I’ve hit a couple of branches while swinging around the ugly tree.
This isn’t the first time this has happened; off the top of my head I can think of two other times in the last year alone someone has come up to me and told me to smile. Hey, nothing is that bad. When I was younger I used to plaster on a fake smile for the hell of it; now I either shrug or tell them life might be good, but yeah, it can suck sometimes.
Random Guy today, though? Something about him irritated the snot out of me, and without thinking I grumbled, “Yeah, my mom died recently.”
[For the record, I apologize to my weeks-dead mother for using her, but being that she had the same set of her mouth and surely got the same crap once in a while, she’d appreciate it.
Granted, she would suck in a sharp breath and blurt, “You didn’t!” but then she would laugh her asterisk off.]
It caught Random Guy off guard, in any case. His eyes went wide, he mumbled an apology, and couldn’t grab his drink and get out of there fast enough.
So, yeah. Don’t tell someone to smile. Chances are they’re neither unhappy nor sad; it’s just their face. And if they are sad, telling them to smile is discounting their feelings. If they’re not, telling them to smile is discounting their appearance.
Don’t be Random Guy.