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I hate it when people tell me to smile (standard:non fiction, 873 words)
Author: kyspartanAdded: Mar 22 2002Views/Reads: 3692/1Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
You're a mean one...Ms. Grinch

The other day I was going through the line at the grocery store that I
always go to.  The checkout girl, whose nametag labeled her as “Mandi”, 
had to be all of 16 years old, and she was chatting away to the woman 
in front of me, who had her three-year-old daughter with her in the 
cart.  Mandi was telling the woman all about her niece, who was also 
three years old and how she likes to baby-sit her because she just 
loves little children and blah blah blah blah.  The little girl started 
acting up a little bit, repeatedly begging for some candy while her 
poor mother tried to unload her cart, settle down her daughter and at 
least pretend to be listening to the babble coming out of the overly 
talkative Kroger employee all at the same time.  I felt sorry for the 
mom.  I could tell that she was trying to be polite to Chatty Mandi, 
but that she really just wanted to pay for her groceries and get out of 
there before her daughter went ballistic. 

Listening to this exchange as I loaded my own groceries onto the
conveyer belt behind the stressed out mom, I realized with dread that 
it would be my turn next to listen to Mandi.  I don't consider myself 
an unfriendly person, but I am not one who usually chats it up with 
strangers unless I have to.  I also don't walk around with a smile 
always on my face, unless I am truly pleased about something.  On this 
day I was in a particularly foul mood, because my mother-in-law had 
called that morning to say she was coming for a visit in the afternoon, 
and wouldn't it be lovely if I would make some of those yummy ham and 
cheese hors d'oeuvres that she likes so much?  The house was a mess, 
the kids all needed baths, my husband had to work so he couldn't help 
me, and to top it off I had to go to the grocery store. 

Stressed out mom paid, scuttled out of there, and it was my turn at bat.
 I busied myself with getting out my debit card and shuffling through 
my purse, trying to avoid conversation if at all possible, but I knew I 
wouldn't be that lucky. 

“So, how are you doing today?” 

I mumbled something resembling “Fine, thanks”, but I don't think she
heard me because she was already going on about how she wasn't supposed 
to work today, but then Jim called in sick and so they asked her to 
work.  But she really didn't mind because she was saving up money for a 
car and she didn't have any plans for today anyway and yadda yadda 

I must have had a sour expression on my face, because when she looked at
me she stopped her diatribe in mid-stream, gave me a patronizing look 
and said, “Smile!  It can't be all that bad.” 

Now, I hate it when people tell me what to do, and I especially hate it
when someone tells me to smile.  Don't tell me to cheer up.  If I want 
to be miserable, I will be miserable.  Maybe I'm not smiling because my 
cat just died, or a friend let me down, or my mother-in-law is coming 
for an unexpected visit.  I am not your problem to fix.  Some people 
just can't stand to see someone who doesn't look happy, and feel that 
it is their mission to fix everyone's problems.  Well, most of the time 
I would rather be left alone, thank you very much, and I especially 
don't want words of advice from an overly talkative, annoying sixteen 
year old who has no idea what is going on in my life. 

I tried to think of something really sarcastic to say to her, because as
I mentioned, I was in an extremely foul mood that day.  But, nothing 
quickly came to mind, so I decided it would probably be best for 
everyone if I just dropped it, paid for my groceries, and went along my 
not-so-merry way.   Besides, it probably wouldn't be very fair of me to 
take out my wrath on poor Mandi, who was after all just trying to be 
friendly and cheerful, and would probably cry if I told her how I 
really felt about her demand that I smile.  So, I relented and gave her 
what she wanted: a smile.  Granted, an insincere, closed mouth, smirky 
kind of smile, but a smile nonetheless.  She smiled back at me as if to 
say, “See, that wasn't so hard”, handed me my receipt, told me to have 
a nice day, and then directed her attention to her next victim, an 
older gentleman in line behind me.  As I made a run for it I could hear 
her resuming the same conversation she had with me, which he had 
undoubtedly already heard. 

“And how are you doing today, sir?  Isn't it a beautiful day outside?  I
wasn't supposed to work today, but then Jim called in sick and so they 
asked me to work.  I don't mind though.  I'm saving up for a car 

I wonder if she'll have to tell him to smile? 


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