3:08 and only time for a quick rant. Here goes:
I'm not entirely sure why it is that certain people simply do not wish to reciprocate a smile with a smile. I mean, the way I see it, we've got one chance at each day, one shot at each individual interaction with a person. I have a chance to make you happy, frustrated, ticked off, sad, depressed; why waste an opportunity? So I try to smile at people I pass on the street, at grocery checkout clerks, especially if lines are long and they look tired; at nurses who are giving me injections (you know that actually helps the shot feel less painful), at people who come into my office. Yet, despite my attempt, some people just don't seem obliged to respond in kind.
Example: A guy in the administration building lobby is sitting there with his daughter, obviously waiting for a university tour or an admissions appointment. As I pass through the lobby, we make eye contact for a couple of seconds, so I smile. He gazed evenly back at me, as if trying to break me down or something. What, I ask you, would compel him to such disinterest in the general human good?
Earlier, a student had come into my office, a grimace on his face. This student seems particularly poorly socially adjusted since I've seen him several times inside my office, as well as around the campus, and on every occasion he has the same "I'm just upset that I have to even look at you" expression on his face. You know, every time he comes in I get stressed out. It's not that I'm afraid of answering his questions. Just his presence stresses me out. Yikes. I smiled anyway as I let him in. He frowned back. I proceeded to speak with him in as congenial a manner as I could muster, but wondered all the while at his...lack of social grace.
Finally, a breath of fresh air: a lady came in with her daughter. She was clearly distressed and wondering how to make things happen financially--how to cover a tuition that seemed 10s of thousands of dollars out of reach. I smiled at her as she came in, and she responded...with a weak, tenuous, but genuine smile, even as tears seemed to well in her eyes. As I gave her counsel, the smile did not leave her face, and I thought, finally, someone who gets it!
When life is difficult, you see, the one thing we can do is smile. We can't change circumstance, we can't make other people like us, we can't change "the rules" all the time. But we can change our facial expression and our attitude towards those around us. View others as an obstacle, and an obstacle we have become to them. But smile...smile and the opportunity to feel good for a couple of seconds is not wasted. For you or someone else.
Okay, here ends the rant.