Home of the brave
February 21, 2011, 1:10 am
Filed under: Human Potential

This lady gave me a disgusted look (briefly before looking away) today. I was trying to see the cover of some books she had on her table in Starbucks. Looked like some books of photos she had taken, one with a picture of a couple on the front. 

Anyway, it helped confirm a hypothesis I had that I’d prefer a mean mug to an insincere smile. I know you’ve seen it. People do it all the time, even I do it. But when I do it it’s more of a quick, closed-mouthed smile that turns into a mean mug to show I’m unreceptive to unwanted attention, or someone’s forced smile. 

I don’t want anyone to stress herself out to smile at me when she doesn’t feel like it. Smiling when you don’t want (cousin to asking “How are you?” and walking away) must be unsettling, kind of like being forced to eat when you’re not hungry or wake up when you’re really tired. I feel the pain of the “oppressed” parties just thinking of those scenarios. Ugh.

I think the oppression I’m referring to is self-oppression, and it seems to be encouraged a lot in our “free society” in the name of politeness. Is it still self-oppression if it’s encouraged, like at work, or just in general? 

Before the Starbucks incident today, one of my favorite co-workers at the gym where I work part-time, said that in Russia, employees don’t help customers in stores or go out of their way to be nice to them because they don’t work on commission and “everybody’s the same because everybody gets paid the same.”

“Isn’t that weird?” she said. I think she was trying to say she was glad it wasn’t like that here in the U.S., but when she said that I felt like “home” was closer than I thought. Someone else on the planet knew what it meant to be free.

That doesn’t mean there’s no hope in the U.S. We just have to be brave enough to free ourselves. 


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