Stranger Etiquette

Dear guys in ties who work downtown:

If a girl smiles at you, the standard response is SMILE BACK. Don’t scowl, don’t be afraid, don’t ignore her, just smile back. She was probably just trying to improve your day, which probably needed improving since you have to wear a tie to work, and the scowl doesn’t become you. Honestly, a girl with curly hair and jeans and white headphones is hardly a threat, it isn’t like she asked you for change or directions. Plus frowning disapprovingly takes more muscles than smiling so just work the half-assed smirk and get on with your day.

The Girl Who Smiled At You During Lunch Today

11 Comments so far

  1. Zephyr (unregistered) on September 29th, 2005 @ 10:22 pm

    I remember once visiting Portland, and I didn’t think it wise to look
    at a teenage girl too warmly. Social politics around this issue may vary
    in different parts of the country. I looked away and absorbed
    myself in other thoughts, when I passed a female youth on the sidewalk.
    Other adults around me, however, seemed to disapprove of my lack of
    interest in the young.

    I’ve mulled over that impression of mine for some time.
    I am generally very attentive to body language cues – it’s part of
    my personality. I just found this comment of yours very intriguing.
    It seems to parallel the attitude that seemed to be there in portland,
    that day.

  2. Banana Lee Fishbones (unregistered) on September 29th, 2005 @ 10:40 pm

    Well first off Zephyr, bless your heart, but I’m not a teenager. (:

    I wasn’t hoping to get checked out or anything, I just thought a smile back would have been nice. There’s a quick return grin and there’s “how YOU doin?” if you follow me.

    Mostly I just really wasn’t expecting the scowl.

  3. Zephyr (unregistered) on September 29th, 2005 @ 10:51 pm

    It’s true… it’s interesting how affection is
    thought of by different people in different
    contexts. Our society has so much misandry, that
    men sometimes decide that it’s best to be cool
    towards women of all ages, rather than warm. You
    know how those who call themselves “feminists”
    will always go off in their hyperbole and say that
    a man’s affection is something that represents a
    selfishness in him. It’s unfortunate that men come
    to believe this. I’m encouraged that you are
    seeking to change this, in your city.

  4. dieselboi (unregistered) on September 30th, 2005 @ 8:37 am

    i smile at everyone unless i’m in a funk. sometimes people smile back, sometimes they don’t. i just home my smile brightens someone’s day.

    add in please and thankyou and you may get a free cup of coffee.

  5. mnology (unregistered) on September 30th, 2005 @ 9:25 am

    Dear people smiling at me in downtown. I’m busy. Your self-serving attempt at affecting someone elses life has backfired. Not only did you not make me smile, you’ve also concerned yourself _way too much_ with some random person on the street. If I’m wearing a tie and scowling, it’s because I’ve got more on my mind than the thousands of nameless faces I pass by.

    Perhaps next time. When I’m wearing a T-shirt and jeans. But not when my ass is on the line.

    (Devils Advocate & what not)

  6. Banana Lee Fishbones (unregistered) on September 30th, 2005 @ 10:07 am


    Devil’s Advocate, very nice. However, I didn’t mean someone who was walking by scowling. Someone was walking by me and made eye contact. I smiled, they scowled. It’s really the fact that someone went out of their way to scowl that confuses me. If you ignore me that’s totally ok and kind of expected, honestly. I don’t care if you don’t smile back, but to go out of your way to frown at me? Thanks.

    The important thing here is that for every scowly jackass I got at least one grin (if not full-on smile) back, so in the end I came out ahead. (:

  7. Kai Jones (unregistered) on September 30th, 2005 @ 12:53 pm

    Maybe you could consider that it’s not all about you, Banana. Maybe he scowled because of a thought or memory unrelated to the fact that his face might have been pointed your way. Maybe you look like his ex-girlfriend, or the teacher who failed him for cheating.

    Maybe you’re just taking yourself way too seriously here. Additionally, if J. Random Stranger’s failure to smile back causes you this much angst, maybe you have bigger problems.

  8. Zephyr (unregistered) on September 30th, 2005 @ 1:45 pm

    No, it’s not her problem, Kai. One has to be
    conscientious to invest in one’s community, to buoy
    it… to keep people to social, archictectural,
    and other standards. I certainly don’t want to
    live in a community where people are going to
    scowl when they walk by. That’s why I’ve chosen to
    move away from the pacific northwest cities to a
    beautiful tourist community. In a small town, we
    have the locus of control in our own hands, to
    change our community. Although, I must admit –
    portland is still my favorite metropolis. The
    downtown, is much friendlier, than say where I
    grew up – in Seattle.

  9. Banana Lee Fishbones (unregistered) on September 30th, 2005 @ 2:15 pm


    I don’t presume for a moment to think it’s all about me. I was walking and noticed that HE was looking at ME so I smiled. He scowled. If he is so unhappy about seeing me or being reminded of what I represent, then (here’s a revolutionary idea, get ready) perhaps he should STOP FUCKING LOOKING AT ME.

    I’m not taking anyone seriously. As evidenced by the fact that there was no angst in my words, and hopefully not in my tone. Mostly I was just surprised. In all my walking in Portland-granted a lot of it hasn’t been downtown-I have never encountered anything like that before. Like I said up there, a vast majority gave at least a half-hearted effort to smile back. I’ve had total strangers say hello, or Merry Christmas, and on one occasion I was even cheerfully told to fuck off (no I wasn’t smiling at them) just in the course of walking down the street.

    I think it’s causing you way more angst than me, Kai. (:

    I really didn’t think this would cause the discussion it did, holy crap!

  10. Betsy (unregistered) on September 30th, 2005 @ 5:11 pm

    This reminds me about bus etiquette – maybe that’s a different thread, but here goes anyway.

    I love the fact that most people say ‘thank you’ when they exit the bus (my daughter yells it loudly when we’re leaving via the back door to make sure it’s heard, heh.) But then you watch the people who scowl at the bus driver as they leave, or get pissy if the back door exit isn’t immediately enabled.

    Related to the non-smilers? I wonder…

  11. Banana Lee Fishbones (unregistered) on September 30th, 2005 @ 5:15 pm

    I’m convinced they are the same bunch of people, Betsy!

    Also I’m with your daughter, I make sure the driver can hear me so I am doing my part to counteract the scowlers and the antsy door people.

Terms of use | Privacy Policy | Content: Creative Commons | Site and Design © 2009 | Metroblogging ® and Metblogs ® are registered trademarks of Bode Media, Inc.