On the way to work today I smiled at just about every person that I passed, knowing full well that the line between coming off as a kind, welcoming person–as opposed to a deranged nut-job–is a fine one.
There weren’t that many people, perhaps four or five, but they all got a smile.
The first person seemed to notice, and while she never met my eyes, she too smiled; albeit shyly, as if to herself.
The next person I passed stared straight ahead, as if she had tunnel vision. It was almost as if there was no left or right, so focused was she on what was seemingly right in front of her.
Wherever she was, there wasn’t enough space enough for even a smile–from her or another person.
Such behavior normally bothers me because what she was doing was not even acknowledging a presence, never mind smiling back. Though, after further thought, I realized that my expectation was somewhat selfish because I have been known to behave in a similar fashion, though I think that it occurs under different circumstances. Personally I find it unnerving if someone looks at me a bit for a bit too long. I think that this is because my personal space extends beyond my immediate space, and when I am–sometimes literally–stared at, it is intrusive, rude and somewhat disrespectful.
That being said, I would like to think that the circumstances that surround my behavior(s) were different than hers, though seeing that I don’t know her at all–or have any idea what her morning consisted of–I cannot necessarily make that assumption.
Besides, smiling to a passerby isn’t an example of quid pro quo. In other words, you put yourself out there, and sometimes you get an affirmation (or sorts), and sometimes you don’t. What a somewhat ‘negative’ response doesn’t mean is that you close yourself off to people, the unknown, because when you think about it, just getting out of bed (and sometimes getting into it) is an adventure in the unknown.