The Frown Collectors

That’s what they should be called, because frowns are what they sport, thus, spread and, hence, see. They should frown at a professional level because they’re so good at it. Do some people think it’s their birthright to be rude to others around them? What possesses them to raise their voices in obnoxious manners when they could just as easily be polite? I have witnessed a few cases of this recently and I really don’t understand why they feel the need to bite someone’s head off.

A few weeks ago, I was taking a bus home. It’s a short 5-minute ride so I didn’t mind standing so someone else could have the seat I would have unnecessarily occupied. It was a crowded bus too and there was a lady standing near me whom I’d smiled at when she glanced at me once and she didn’t return it. When my stop was announced, I needed to get past her. I tried squeezing through her and an old man and, to be polite, I whispered, “Excuse-me-please,” very softly. “I would move if I had somewhere to go!” the lady snapped at me. I said nothing and simply got off the bus, but that really bothered me and I wondered why she needed to be so rude. I thought, Maybe she’s having a bad day. But we all have bad days, don’t we? Do we all go around snapping at complete strangers?

A few days later, I saw a young man in the lobby of the building I live in, carrying a laundry basket full of clothes. He was leaving the building and an older man, probably in his 50s, was about to insert his key in the main entrance to let himself in. This young man smiled at the man probably 30 years his senior and opened the door with his foot (On the inside the door has a button you can push to open it.) and then held the door open for the old man while struggling with the heavy, overflowing basket. The old man scowled and entered without looking at the good Samaritan. “Well, you’re welcome!” said the young man upon receiving no acknowledgement for his kindness. “I didn’t ask you to open the door for me!” the old man erupted. “I don’t need anyone to open the door! I have my own key! I did not tell you to open it!” And he went on until he got into the elevator. I was shocked. If he had so much as smiled in response, the other person would have felt good about it. Ok, so maybe you don’t want anyone to do you any favours, but if someone performs an act of kindness for you, why can’t you just accept it graciously? Do you have to go the opposite route and be horribly unpleasant?

Earlier this week I was in a movie theatre. I thought I’d be late for the movie so I had rushed, but found that I had enough time to pick up some popcorn and get myself a good seat. Advertisements and trailers were playing, people were still settling in with their snacks and drinks while some people were talking to each other in hushed tones. Slowly a few instances of “Ssssshhh!” were heard and then suddenly someone from the back of the theatre cried out, ” Just shut up!” His neighbour chimed in, “All of you in the front, shut up! You’re disturbing everyone else!” The movie hadn’t even begun! There was nothing of great consequence on the screen yet. What warrants such behaviour towards another person? I was by myself so I wasn’t one of those talking, but I couldn’t believe that there are people who won’t think twice about yelling at others. The ones who were shushed so boorishly said nothing. You see, not everyone is as ill-mannered. They stopped talking completely and there was absolute pin-drop silence in the theatre. I couldn’t even chew my popcorn without feeling it might be too loud…until the movie began.

Have you ever smiled at strangers, a lonely old lady you see on the subway, the little boy you walk by on the street, or the couple you see in the elevator only to be met with icy, cold stares? Lighten up, they need to be told, it’s just a smile and it’ll make you feel good too. Oh, this reminds me of the time, a year or so ago, when I was returning to work on a cold, grey morning with a coffee and I smiled (for no reason in particular; just felt like it, just wanted to) at a lady standing outside a convenience store. She smiled back and as I walked past her she called out, “Thank you! I really needed that!” I responded, “Glad to be of service!” I don’t know if I made her day, but she certainly made mine. It’s nice to be nice.


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  1. My Musings

    I feel pity for those that frown. They are not happy people. You have to protect yourself from their negativity so that you don’t lose your smiles. Keep smiling and spreading good cheer around you.


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