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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