Archive | January 17, 2017

Weekend Blog: The Smile Game

Nobody who really knows me would deny that I’m an introvert (Except my mother, who somehow thinks it’s an insult). I like people, sure; I’m not a misanthrope (most days), but I’m perfectly happy not leaving the house for days at a time.

(Caveat: I DO get a little antsy if nobody’s online for a while. I get a lot of my social interaction via electrons)

But I am, despite social anxiety and a habit of hiding in my cave, gregarious, and there’s a little game I play when I am dealing with strangers.

Strangers in service positions, specifically — retail sales people, delivery guys — people I might encounter over and over again but with whom my relationship will almost always be cursory.

I like to see if I can get them to smile.

And, in cases of repeat visits, I like to see if I can make enough of an impression that they smile when I walk in.

Sometimes this takes a long time. At my last job, we had a paycheck-delivery person who was The Grumpiest. But I’d bounce down the stairs and grin at him and say “Hey! My favorite guy! You bring the money!”

Eventually, he smiled. After even longer, he smiled before I said anything.

It’s fun. There’s that thing where if you smile and mean it, it’s not only easier to get other people to smile, but you feel better – and sometimes I could really use the reminder to give myself a pick-me-up. There’s sometimes added benefits, like the extra appetizers my favorite Thai place sometimes slips in for me. And there’s the awesome feeling of someone smiling when they see you not because they have to, but because they remember you.

I’ve finally gotten our bulk-store guy to smile when he sees us. This makes Saturday errands just a little bit sweeter, and I can grin back at him with a private sense of triumph. I won the game!

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January By the Numbers Fourteen: The Aardvarks (fiction Piece)

January by the numbers continues (now three days off, meeps~)!
From [personal profile] kelkyag‘s prompt “Ancient aardvarks are always achey;” a ficlet.

They called them aardvarks, because they worked on the unknown continents, because they worked at night, and because they burrowed.

They called them aardvarks, and they were the ones who told the rest of them everything they needed to know about their new lands. Explorers, scientists, miners: the aardvarks were all of those, and more.

They worked at night because the suns of the new planets were dangerous, because the screens that would make the world safe for human habitation had not yet been installed. They burrowed, because all the secrets of the world lay under its soil — its mineral balances and its mineable wealth, its loam and its sand and its clay. And every place they went was a new and secret place, an unknown planet that might, at one point, be colonized by convicts and run-aways, drop-outs and adventurers, wild people and quiet people.

It was hard work, and it was rootless work, as deep in the ground as these aardvarks dug. Eventually, they would end up moving on to another planet, another continent, another dig. And another one, and another one. The aardvarks who did their job the best had the fewest roots, for they spent the least time in any given hole.

There was an honor amongst them, these deep-underground adventurers, that no other could touch, not the companies, not their families, not the colonists who came later. And there was a pride, the dig patches worn on one’s coveralls like passport stamps. Some digs were harsher than others, the way these things always were, and so there were a few patches one wore with a special kind of pride and sadness: Gedder-Fess, where only three had walked away. Kor’pek, where it was said that anywhere from two to twenty had lived (depending on the tale-teller), but half of them had gone absolutely stark raving mad. Loliarinaethellie, where the patch almost guaranteed you were missing fingers, toes, maybe an arm or a leg.

They worked until they’d left more pieces in the digs than they could stand to lose, or until they found a mustering-out point at some dig slated to run long, where they could Advise and Account, talk to the people and talk to the companies, and no longer handle the shovels and the picks and the fussy little brushes and slides. And they were always achy, always tired, and always willing to tell the tale of every dig they’d been at.


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