Some days you're just pumping gas. And then some days you're expected to look up from your task and give a strange man a smile because he so requested and it would make his day all the better.
This happened the other day on our way down to our food truck builders when I stopped for gas. The machine at the pump wasn't working so I had to go inside to pay and when I exited, a large SUV pulled up near my vehicle and just parked while blocking multiple spots. I went about my business, got the gas pumping and stood there facing away and feeling eyes on me.
Men, we know when we're being ogled. We can feel your eyes burn into us, we're not oblivious.
So, I resolved to just not look over and as I'm tightening the gas cap the bearded, middle aged man behind the wheel of the SUV slowly creeps past my line of sight with his window down and says,
"Hi, how are you?"
"C'mon now, gimme a smile! It'll brighten my day!"
And right before I could automatically curl my lips into a smile I had a quick realization. No, I won't smile for you. I don't have to smile for you. Why do I have to do anything for you? You're a stranger. You have absolutely no business with what I do with my face.
Will it really brighten your day if I smile my feminine smile at you? Well, too damn bad. I guess you're due to have a rotten day, sir.
"No thanks, I'm good," I raised my eyebrows and gave a sarcastic thumbs up as he retreated in defeat, still pleading with me to smile as he drove off.
I am not saying that I am at all unwilling to smile. I have what is technically called BRF (or Bitchy Resting Face). It's a "problem" that has been getting more and more attention as of late thanks to classic "sufferers" like Kristen Stewart.
I've been told for years, "When I first met you, I thought you were snobby!" or "What's wrong? Are you okay?"
I'm not mad, this is just how my face looks! But there's one thing that BRF has in common with the smile-incident: men are the only ones who have told me to smile. I have never heard a woman tell a man or a man tell another man to smile.
I don't concern myself with stranger's moods and have never told someone I've never talked to in my life to smile. To be blunt, telling a woman to smile is a misogynistic act. If you want a woman to smile that badly, do something to make her smile like make a genuine (not creepy) compliment. This isn't to dissuade people from engaging with others in public, but we need to engage each other in ways that don't make the other uncomfortable.
And a side note: To be honest, I've grown to love my bitchy resting face! It keeps those kiosk people in the mall from talking to me because I think I scare them! It used to really bother me that my face looked unhappy in moments of non-emotion but I've learned to embrace it. I can't change it and it makes me feel kind of like a bad ass.