(Resistance is futile: Have a nice day…)
It may not be safe to say this, in various parts of the world (and it would certainly be frowned upon in certain European circles) but I do like America. Granted, not its surface culture of fast food, fast living & fast spending but there is so much more to this vast and quite diverse continent than those who judge it on the merits of its (regrettable) TV shows and Hollywood movies will probably ever learn - but then, we know that prejudice is a condition that doesn’t welcome new information.
Anyway, on the whole, in America, people are certainly more friendly, welcoming and, definitely, more polite than in most of the other places I’ve visited and lived in.
The only gripe I share with a large amount of other Europeans who’ve spent time in the USA, is the way people in various types of shops, bars and restaurants wish you, upon leaving, a very nice day, with smiles as big and as fake as Elton John’s toupet.
It’s not the fault of these individual employees, of course: It’s their bosses with their ‘Smile or be fired’ policy who are to blame for this nonsense but it is, nevertheless, quite grating.
Having said that, the following news story is still vaguely depressing:
“Few places in Virginia are as draining to the soul and as numbing to the buttocks as the branch offices of the Department of Motor Vehicles. And yet, until recently, smiling was still permitted there. No more. DMV officials say the smile ban is for a good cause. The agency would like to develop a facial recognition system that could compare customers’ photographs over time to prevent fraud and identity theft. “The technology works best when the images are similar,” said DMV spokeswoman Pam Goheen. “To prepare for the possibility of future security enhancements, we’re asking customers to maintain a neutral expression.””
‘Technology’ will only ever be happy if each and every individual person becomes part of an identical looking, thinking, consuming, voting and overall similarly behaving herd.
A sad looking herd, no less – since our new overlords, the machines, can’t cope with deviating expressions on the faces of individual pieces of cattle.
All this to prevent fraud, identity theft and, no doubt, terrorism.
Homeland Security already demands we remove our keys, our belts and bottled water, before we even go through ‘control’…
… and now, the powers have started to demand we drop our smiles as well.
Which is the kind of news, I imagine, Osama bin Laden will find highly amusing.
Not that you would notice, of course, with that beard of his.