7 Reasons To Smile At A Stranger
The other week I came across a nice little campaign from a New York City-based good karma deliverer. Going by the name of Urban Muser, he/she is leaving notes in subway stations and on trains encouraging people to smile at strangers. And then other people, from all over the world, are doing it too. It’s a lovely idea, simply but effectively executed. We should smile at strangers more. Here’s why:
1. Love. It’s easily done. You’re sitting on the bus and bham! your future wife/husband sits in the seat opposite you. You don’t know them. You’ve never seen them before in your life, but something deep down in your loins says this is the one for you. So, what do you do? Do you carry on reading the paper and hope they come over and ravish you right then and there or do you take matters into your own hands? All you have to do is catch their eye and smile at them. The chances are they’ll immediately turn away, but don’t fret this is natural instinct. They’ll turn back. And when they do, smile again. If they smile back, you’re in. If they don’t, never mind. Just make sure you get off at the next stop. You don’t want to be accused of stalking.
2. Opinions. Maybe you’ve just had a session in the dentist’s chair and now want an opinion on your freshly cleaned pearly whites. Smile at someone. If they whip out their sunglasses you’ll know your dentist has done a good job. If they ask you if you’d like to borrow a bit of dental floss, you know you’ve just been ripped off.
3. Cracked It. Have you noticed that people find chimpanzees and monkeys cute? This can’t be because they pick both their noses and bottoms. That’s disgusting. It must be because they have a cheeky smile. So the next time someone catches you with your hand down your pants just smile at them. They’ll immediately fall for you.
4. Annoy. If someone is annoying you, don’t fire the staple-gun at their head again, smile at them. And don’t stop. Get in their face and smile at them. Even when they ask you what you’re smiling at, don’t stop. Don’t even speak. Just keep smiling. I guarantee that within two minutes they will be far more hacked off with you than you were with them. Especially if you follow them into the toilets and peer over the cubicle door.
5. Intrigue. Just go and sit in a cafe and smile at your fellow coffee drinkers. They’ll wonder what on earth you are smiling at. They’ll be intrigued by you. Are you coming on to them? Are you a spy? Do they have froth on their top lip? Just don’t smile at the girl with the big boyfriend. Especially if you are with your own girlfriend.
6. Reactions. When I was a schoolboy, I was cool. Whenever I went off to another school in the minibus to play rugby or cricket or hockey or other posh-boy sports (like chess), I used to smile and wave at random people as we passed by. In wasn’t a casual smile and wave though, this was a smile and wave that screamed, ‘Hello! I know you!’. The double-takes were priceless. In the minibus I was heralded a genius. Though when in France I accompanied it with a “Salut!” and a boy on a bike very nearly killed himself under a lorry. So you’ve go to choose your moments wisely. An you can do too much. So my advice is don’t do the French shouting to start with. Or the waving. Build it up over a period of time. To begin with, just smile as you walk past someone. A smile that says, ‘I know you!’. You’ll enjoy it, I promise. One day, if you’re lucky, you might become cool too.
7. Contagious. Smiling, like laughing, is contagious. According to the Guinness World Record website, there is no world-record for the number of people smiling at once. (Though, incidentally, I have just set it with the grand total of one). Therefore, why not try and set one. Smile at as many strangers as you can and hope that they smile enough to catch someone else’s eye. Then they’ll smile and the cycle will begin. Eventually everyone in the world will be smiling. And that’s a world record that can’t be broken. Here’s a picture of Jon and Marc smiling to get you started.