The power of an american smile

I come from the country where we smile when we are happy and look upset when we are upset. Pretty simple and also common sense, right? Well, living in US changed this logical biological mechanism to something very strange. To smile when you are upset or angry.

Every foreigner knows it from american movies but when you actually see it and use it, it really means only one thing. You’ve got “americanized” and it’s time to think for a second. Why are we so fake? Why we think it’s better to pretend we are happy even tho everyone else knows we are not? I am not saying to be rude or angry but being “fake nice”, in my opinion, can only make the situation worse.

I’ve been working in customer service for 10 years and I have to admit that I am more and more fake nice than real me when I am upset. It hit me at the post office 2 days ago. They had a lunch break from 1-2:15 pm (go state jobs) and I literally came there at 1:01 and the door was closed but people inside were leaving so I sneaked inside and asked the cashier very nicely (really nicely) if she can send my mail because it has to be send today and I wouldn’t be able to come back after their lunch break. She said very cold “no” but I kept trying, this time I was bagging, explaining my baby throw up situation in a car what made me late (I know nobody is interested in people’s reason for being late but I was really desperate). She said “I am sorry but we are closed” with the smile on her face and she woke up me american fake nice beast and with the biggest sarcastic smile you can imagine I said “thank you for your great service” and left the building. On my way out I met very confused old man who I saw getting out of a car when I was pulling in and I just realized it took him that long to walk to the post office. So he was there actually on time but nobody could serve him because he was too slow to get to the building. I teared up because we started to talk and then his wife appeared with 2 big boxes what they now have to bring back to the car. I offered my help but they didn’t want it, this old man gave me the biggest smile and said, “we have no place to hurry sweatheart, we will sit here and wait”. I just nodded, wished them a nice day and ran to the car to cry it out.

I understand the point of business hours. I understand the hunger. I understand people go to work and have their own life afterwards. But I will never understand why we act like the machines and forget we are human beings. I am not going to lie and say I always served customers after my store closed or was always nice to them. I had my moments thru the years and even if it takes a lot to make me angry when I am at work of course it happened. If you want a favor and come to me very rudely or disrespectful and after my fourth option you are still not on my page then I turn to a fake nice monster and send you out of my zone with the biggest smile. Working in hospitality taught me a lot how to reverse the guests’ mood and I would say 90 % of the time I was able to satisfy them. And those are angry upset people I am talking about. I’ve never turned my back or was disrespectful to anybody who was nice to me and many times didn’t even have my lunch break or stayed opened later. I worked at the surf shop before I started to work at the resort and my store was very famous in Japan so when I had a tour bus coming at 6:30 when the store closes, of course I am not going to turn them away. Or if I had a family knocking on the door at 6:40 while I was counting the register, bagging me this is their last day on the island and they leave early tomorrow, what a human piece a shit I would be if I said, no we are closed. Yes, I have a life after work and the fact I had to stay at work longer or make my lunch shorter didn’t make me happy but also didn’t hurt me.

I wish the world would be an easier place to live. I wish we all had infinite patience and put other’s needs in a front of ours. I can’t make this happen. But what I can do is to at least stop pretending I am nice to you when I am not and don’t make the situation even worse.

I was always very bad in math but I remember -+-=+. So maybe when we both are upset we can help each other to snap out of it and find a positive solution 🙂

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