Obnoxious Coffee Shop Pest

I was walking to my office building this morning and passed a coffee shop that is a hangout spot for courier/messenger guys. I have never been bothered or even noticed by any of them — I’ve been going past these men everyday for a year now. So I was surprised when one suddenly turned to me this morning and said “Smile sista. No long faces. You need to smile.” I replied quietly “You are being obnoxious.” I think he learned something new.

Submitted by  Anonymous on 7/15/2010

Location: 14th & K Street NW

Time of Harassment: Morning Rush Hour (5A-9:30A)

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4 Responses

  1. Obie

    I know the exact place you’re talking about – I work on the same block and pass it on my way to the office, as well. I’ve never been bothered by those guys, but they’ve always made me uneasy. I’m glad you gave one of them a piece of your mind.

  2. Golden Silence

    Ugh…I hate “smile guys.” They need to worry about their own facial expressions as opposed to bugging women about theirs.

  3. Hannah

    Maybe I’ve been miss-reading smile comments, but I always thought of them as friendly. (Was there a tone that made it feel like harassment?) I have gotten them from women and men, and usually on days when I probably am projecting a disappointed or stressed mood (I am a woman). I’ve even said something to the effect of “Sometimes smiling makes it feel like a better day” to a stranger when they seem upset. Is this something many people find offensive? I certainly never mean it to be sexual, or offensive, just note that I noticed they were down and hope it gets better.

  4. The Poster

    I never find ‘smile’ comments friendly. I may be thinking about something important and some random stranger starts commenting on my face. It doesn’t matter the tone. Anytime someone says that to me, I want to tell them “dance!” Because I would really like to see you dance for me.

    Your point about being disappointed or stressed is the other reason why comments to smile are offensive. Because it is implying “you should not be stressed. You should not be disappointed. As a woman, you really have no excuse for feeling down/apathetic/calm/placid/preoccupied. And I have a right to say this to you, oh stranger. Smile for me”

    If you do a google search for “Telling people to smile” you will find a plethora of posts and complaints about this behavior. Including a blog by Sexist on this (the comments seem to reflect the different viewpoints on ‘smile’ orders) at http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/sexist/2010/03/30/dear-abby-takes-on-the-smile-baby-guy/

    Regardless of how you personally feel about it, I think given the number of people who hate it (as evidenced by the various advice columns and blogs), its probably best to just refrain from doing it to strangers. Some may not care, but quite a number despise it, and respecting their boundaries is the friendliest thing you can do.