To smile of not to smile?

1 05 2012

Before I moved to the US I lived in a big city where people walked around with hardly giving you eye contact, there they have different expressions to say hello to people some very impersonal and some very personal. People are very warm and welcoming and they would give you the shirt of their backs, but you would not know it just by passing them on the street.

Here I moved to a small college town and people smile at you on the streets, and when you get into a store they greet you very warm and friendly; some people call you sweety and dear, even when you don’t know them. That seemed odd to me. I mentioned this and I was told that this is because people in the US are very friendly.

After being here for a while I realized that most people do it out of politeness, some out of friendliness, but the smile is just a greeting, it is not an open door for friendship.

I have this instinctive reaction when I see babies, I look at them and smile, can’t help it. So in some parts of town people just notice and smile back, in other parts of town people look at me angrily as to say do not look at my baby. I can’t understand why, maybe they can see I am an alien and they fear alien abduction.

I’ve gotten used to the smiles, I actually love smiling at everybody, I do believe that it is contagious and sometimes it confuses people. So in a recent trip to Germany and I’ve been smiling at people on the street and I got odd looks and some angry looks when smiled at babies.

I asked, I am annoyingly curious and ask questions. They told me that they consider themselves friendly, and don’t see the need to smile to everybody, also they like to protect their privacy.

I believe that not only the culture but the environment affects the smiling, if you are in a go go go city you may not even look at other, or if you are in a sleeping town you may feel inclined to stop smile and greet people.

How are people in your world? would you consider strangers smiling at you nice, friendly or unnecessary and intrusive?

Please share your thoughts.

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Can we maybe slow down?

7 03 2010

I was talking to a friend about some cultural differences between here and my home planet and she though I was being silly when I said that I think we are always in a hurry here, she said why would people slow down and waste time. I started to wonder why are we in such a hurry.

When first moved to the US and would go to a restaurant, I found it so rude that the would bring the check when you are in the middle of your meal. That felt like they were pushing you out the door. Like they were saying “next”. I have gotten used to it and I just try to ignore the bill sitting there, staring at me and pressuring me into leaving.

I invited a friend, that I had not seen in a long time, to meet me for coffee and she asked how long it would take, because she had to pick up her kid from here and taken him there and the other one would be done at such time and he need to go to this other thing. Now I remember why we have not seen each other in such a long time, there is no time.

There is one thing that I try to avoid in our multitasking world, lunch meetings. I hate lunch meetings, to me work and lunch should be separate events, they don’t mix. It doesn’t  help that for me lunch is the biggest meal of the day (another cultural thing) and that I like to take my time and not inhale my meal. When I cannot avoid a lunch meeting, I try no to eat during it. I feel it is better for my digestive process. I have worked with people who talk with their mouth full and perform other unappetizing behaviors during lunch meetings, that might be why I have created such an aversion to them. But still, I like to have my meals sitting down, calmly, in good company, savor and enjoy. Is there something wrong with that? Do you feel that it is time wasted?

I realize I have assimilated a lot to the US culture and I am often times running against the clock, doing seven things a once, and when I finally get home I tend to stop, and slow down. I try to leave the rush outside. But sometimes I find myself running again, cooking meals for a few days at one time, so that I can slow down and enjoy later.

Are you running? tell me what are you running to of from? Can we afford to slow down and enjoy the ride?