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I have a friend (we’ll call her Sherri), who’s a serious lady with a lot on her mind.
She’s been through some stuff. Some tragic and traumatic stuff.
She doesn’t allow this to run her life, but she does have a tendency to get wrapped up in some heavy things in her head as she goes through the day doing her errands. The same errands we all do.
She’s striking, as well—red hair, blue eyes, and in her early 40s. For some reason, she’s exactly the sort of woman that men generally approach in the convenience store with all kinds of really interesting conversation starters. Especially things like: “You’d be so much prettier if you just smiled.”
She actually gets that a lot. She is by no means what some might call an “unapproachable feminist” either. She’s actually quite an approachable feminist; in other words, she doesn’t have ridiculous expectations of the men in her suburban town. I mention that it is suburban because it’s sort of a given that the population in metropolitan areas, like New York City, can be quite different from, say, the outskirts of Pittsburgh.
That being said, it is 2022, and even in sparsely populated areas it should be common sense that if you are not intimately familiar with a woman, you really have no business ordering her to smile for your entertainment. I mean, even if you know the person, it’s still sort of questionable.
But, as always, I’m here to help.
If this is you, maybe you just don’t know what you could (or should) be doing instead of trying to convince complete strangers to change their overall disposition to suit you. I have a few suggestions though—10, in fact. And yes, you can thank me later (or in the comments section).
1. Learn a new language
For $19.95 a month, you can sign up for an app like Pimsleur where you can learn everything from Tagalog to Haitian Creole. In this way, you can practice being less annoying in something besides basic English. When you catch yourself about to engage someone in impolite and unsolicited conversation, simply whip out your phone and brush up on your diphthongs.
2. Grab a non-dairy creamer and read the ingredients
Some people may see this as a waste of other people’s money, but as someone who has very recently had no problem wasting other people’s time, this probably won’t bother you. Besides, one thimbleful of Irish Crème coffee creamer will not be missed by anyone. Ever.
3. Strike up a conversation with the dude behind you
In fact, maybe tell him he’d look a lot prettier if he’d just smile. Then I’d suggest you duck.
4. Take four or five selfies
That way, you can politely ask the woman in front of you in line if you look better with a contemplative face or if you’d look prettier smiling. Kind of like reverse psychology.
5. Text your wife that you love her and are thinking about her
Of course, that is, if you are married and in good standing with your spouse. Which, I get it, is almost like saying if Earth, the moon, the sun, and Venus aligned simultaneously. Not to worry, if this is not the case, go on Facebook dating and create a profile. Then by next year, you might possibly have someone to text while you’re standing in line at 7-11.
6. Log on to GoFundMe
Search for some poor soul who might’ve just been diagnosed unexpectedly with Stage 4 cancer that they can in no way afford to do anything about and shoot them over $5 or $10. It has been proven that random acts of kindness boost dopamine levels and raise one’s overall psychological health. It has also been proven that cancer patients who go bankrupt are approximately 2.5 times more likely to die than those who don’t go bankrupt. You might be helping to save a life (instead of just annoying one).
There is truly no end to the types of exercises you can do while in line at either the grocery store or the gas station—or really anywhere. Leg lifts, bicep stretches, calf stretches, and lower shoulder rolls are all fair game. In fact, if you can get your hands on an isometric gripper, there is a chance you can lower your high blood pressure by almost 10 percent. Seriously, you should totally consider getting a grip.
8. Scan the tabloids and get mad about something
Biden’s dementia? Amber Heard’s trial? Will Smith’s marriage? There is definitely going to be something on that front page that gets your goat. If you really work yourself into a lather, you can maybe even involve the cashier and change her day from utterly boring to weirdly uncomfortable and awkward. She might appreciate the distraction. Anything is better than boring.
9. Start singing your favorite song at an uncomfortable volume
Think of it: Bobby Jim is at the counter purchasing 6–56–17–31 boxed, straight, and any other possible way might be available, a child is whining to his mother that he wants a Kinder Egg, some woman is (thankfully) being spared from another moment of harassment, and you are belting out, “Seen the lights go out on Broadway…” What could possibly be more fun?
10. Mind your own f*cking business.