Last week, I thought I’d try a little experiment. I came up with the blissfully charming idea that I would start smiling at people who walked past me in the street, in the hopes that another human being (i.e. me) acknowledging their existence would cheer them up and make their day-to-day lives just a bit less mundane. I started off small, smiling at a few people on the train into town. A lot of them didn’t respond. None in fact. I put their repugnant lack of a response down to it still being painfully early, almost blind dark, and at a temperature that had never been felt by anyone other than Jean-Claude Van Damme’s nipples.
Later on in the day, I tried once again. This time inside a warm, cosy building. I chose to smile at a manly man, the kind of man with tattoo’s from when he was in prison for the 9th consecutive time for just being such a horrible bastard. But I decided I shouldn’t judge, for all I knew he could have only been in prison 5 times. However, this smiling business didn’t seem to settle too well with him since he barged past me, not returning my kindness, and just generally acted as the bastard I had preconceived him to be.
Next time, I thought I would try a kind looking woman. I beamed at her as if I were Hugh Grant, fresh from a dental appointment performed by Jesus. She seemed almost disgusted with my bid at affection, and literally nanoseconds after I walked past her, she spat on the floor in the place in which I stood just moments ago.
I was going make my third attempt fool-proof. I would smile at a child, the happiest creatures in the known world. They can laugh and smile at anything from a funny face, to the reflection of a plastic spatula in a mirror. As i walked past i cracked a smile at a little boy, who, instead of smiling or laughing back, proceeded to pretend to shoot me in the head and say “You’re dead”. His mother then delivered me a look like I had murdered her cat with a hair dryer, then used one of her expensive recycling bags to wrap the cat in, and put it under her Christmas tree because I had inflicted this behaviour upon her child.
At this point I decided to give up. No human being can muster up some common decency to a passerby anymore, it’s just misery, served with a side order of rudeness, covered in Piri-Piri sauce that they proceed to suck up with a straw and spit into your eyes like a crude, radioactive lizard of hate. If me, the most cynical man in the universe, can smile at people in the street and show a bit of common decency, why can’t the rest of the world do the same?