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Being instructed to smile

(171 Posts)
UncooperativeWoman Sun 19-Feb-17 13:44:09

Trying to decide whether to have a word with the manager, when I'm next there, and whether he'll even understand:

In a local chain shop this weekend (obvious from my name change), at the checkout, no-one else around us. I was being perfectly polite and normal, said 'hello', 'yes I think I will buy a bag' etc etc.

The checkout guy starts commenting, "you're not smiling".
I just say 'uh huh' or something.
"You were smiling before, but now you aren't smiling".
"Oh, I see, you aren't smiling now because its time to pay".

I thought he might have gauged by now that I'm really not going to join in a conversation about my perceived lack of outwardly displayed joy. I'm poised with my card at the reader, waiting for the 'swipe your card' command. I looked up to see if there was a problem, and the checkout guy brings his hand up, puts a finger at each corner of his mouth, and gestures pushing up into a smile shape. Then he let me pay.

It's the last bit that really annoys me; this pausing in the transaction, so he could instruct me to smile, even though I clearly didn't want to engage in this.

If a male customer refused to hand over his payment card until a woman cashier smiled for him, everyone would think he was a prick, right? This is the same type of thing isn't it?

DogMama89 Sun 19-Feb-17 13:47:04

Yanbu bloody hell what an arse.
Go and complain. I beleive I worked for said chain for many years and I absolutely loved it. Company policy and ethics do not stand for that. He will be in deep shit and right he should be. Sorry this happend op

Trills Sun 19-Feb-17 13:48:52


I'm sure he didn't mean any harm, but people don't need to mean harm for them to be in the wrong.

sonyaya Sun 19-Feb-17 13:49:59

This whole "smile" bullshit drives me mad. YANBU.

Penrithtearooms Sun 19-Feb-17 13:50:35

YANBU. You were being polite enough.

I wouldn't have a word with management though, I think the guy must have been just socially awkward and well-meaning. But it's inappropriate for anyone to request a smile. unless you are a photographer!??

He probably already feels like a dick.

Arealhumanbeing Sun 19-Feb-17 13:50:52

Definitely complain.

Little shitangry

TheTantrumCometh Sun 19-Feb-17 13:54:14

I fucking hate this and it's unacceptable. I think it's so ingrained in culture though that people don't think they've done anything wrong. I find it very difficult to articulate my exact reasons behind why I feel so strongly though.

TlentifiniMaarhaysu Sun 19-Feb-17 13:55:02

Complain. I would bet money that he doesn't feel like a dick!

Danicc Sun 19-Feb-17 13:55:41

Someone did something similar to me once. I had been crying all day because my mum was close to dying. When the person said 'smile it might never happen', I told them loudly that 'it' was happening and what it was. I hope it shamed them into never saying it again. Arsehole.

DameDeDoubtance Sun 19-Feb-17 13:56:42

It's not your job to smile ffs, complain.

Silverthorn Sun 19-Feb-17 13:56:46

He was being an arsehole. Complain.

TalkingofMichaelAngel0 Sun 19-Feb-17 13:57:33

Complain. What a jerk.

redexpat Sun 19-Feb-17 13:57:36

Has any man ever had this said to him? Ever?

ChuckSnowballs Sun 19-Feb-17 13:58:13

I think I'd have unpacked all the items - slowly - and walked away. Whilst stopping at customer services to put a formal complaint in.

EatTheChocolateTeapot Sun 19-Feb-17 13:58:53

It's the old thing of women/girls have to smile and look good.
Bollocks to that.
I would not complain but would make it clear that I don't owe him a smile if there was a next time.

Witchend Sun 19-Feb-17 14:00:17

Sounds like he was trying to have a bit of a joke with you with the comment about stopping smiling when asked to pay. I've said similar things to the checkout person when it's come to more than usual.

RoboticSealpup Sun 19-Feb-17 14:00:18

Just reading this increased my blood pressure... angry He probably thought it was charming 'banter'. Arse.

RaspberryOverloadTheFirst Sun 19-Feb-17 14:01:41

Yes, he's definitely a prick. I hate the whole "smile, you're a female" bollocks.

PageStillNotFound404 Sun 19-Feb-17 14:05:40

The thing that pisses me off about this is that you predominantly seem to hear it from men to women. It's another insidious, subtle form of control, a way of passing judgement on how women appear in public. Before anyone jumps down my throat I'm not suggesting that people who say it have actively thought "I am going to exert my control over this woman", but if you stop and think, that's ultimately what they're saying: "I don't approve of the way your face looks, rearrange it at my request". Which is why I don't agree that it's simple "well meaning social awkwardness". It's rude and intrusive and never appropriate in that sort of social interaction.

I would definitely complain OP. The fact he went on to mime a smile before allowing you to finish your transaction is just ridiculous and completely unnecessary.

UncooperativeWoman Sun 19-Feb-17 14:08:49

I imagine at first he probably did think he was being 'friendly' (but friendly in a way he wouldn't have been had I been there with my husband, or to any man). But the gesture at the end felt more dominant, because he was pissed off that I wasn't responsive.

I kept the receipt, as it has the time and name on it. I'd really like to have my husband with me for moral support when I go in, but not sure whether that might look a bit pathetic.

It's annoying, because I do top up shops there a couple of times a week. But I don't want to let it lie - I'll be really cross with myself.

TalkingofMichaelAngel0 Sun 19-Feb-17 14:11:33

Contact head office instead. Theyll forward your complaint to the manager

Katy07 Sun 19-Feb-17 14:11:35

I wouldn't complain because he's probably been instructed to be nice to the customers and that was his attempt. For all you know he'd probably prefer to say nothing and just do his job. I'd have been satisfied to go hmm at him and leave it at that.

RoboticSealpup Sun 19-Feb-17 14:11:58

I wouldn't go in, I would send an email. If they don't take you seriously, or get the guy to give you some half-arsed non-apology (whilst looking misunderstood with puppy eyes) you'll be even angrier. It will be harder to dismiss you over email.

Trills Sun 19-Feb-17 14:13:04

he's probably been instructed to be nice to the customers and that was his attempt

In which case he really needs telling.

Heyheyheygoodbye Sun 19-Feb-17 14:13:30

I fucking HATE this. They never instruct other men to smile hmm

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