Is Resting Satan Face a Thing?

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I’m not in any way a religious person. I was baptised in the Catholic church, and attended a Catholic school (and I had no say in either of those things), but I eschewed all gods years ago, and am quite content living as a heathen. Whilst I do understand why some people need religion, it’s not something that appeals to or resonates with me, for a myriad of reasons. A lot of my experience with organised religion, and indeed, those who follow “God” has been negative. I remember distinctly, being screamed at in public by an elderly woman, who took my holding hands with a female friend as a reason to tell us that we were going to “burn in hell for our sins”. I was sixteen at the time.

I was approached at my counter a few weeks ago by an older gentleman in a wheelchair. He didn’t want or need anything from my shop, but rather wanted to give me something. As it turns out, what he wanted to give me was a A4 framed piece of paper, on which he had painstakingly written out and decorated an entire, page long prayer. He told me that when he saw me, he couldn’t walk past without giving me this gift, and he told me that he hoped I would put it somewhere in my house, so that God would bless my home and myself. He was very kind, and I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I am the possibly the least religious person he could have chosen to bestow his prayer upon. I found out shortly after, that he had gone to a few shops in the centre, handing out these same prayers, but it didn’t lessen the irony.

I didn’t think any more of the encounter until a couple of days ago, when I was approached by a young woman. She walked past me at first, and smiled. I smiled back and continued writing at the counter. Moments later she returned. “I’m sorry, I know this is probably a little random, but I wonder if I could have a moment of your time, so that I can draw you something?” she asked. Another customer approached my counter at that moment, and she shied away a little. For a fleeting, egotistical second, I wondered if perhaps she was going to write down her number for me. It would have been a pleasant change from the guys who occasionally try to pick me up at work, and don’t take no for an answer. But, alas, the pretty girl wasn’t coming to my counter to ask me out.

When the other customer had been served, the young woman took a pen and a piece of paper, and began to draw me a diagram. She drew as she talked about sin, and filling emptiness with more emptiness, and how God created the world with love. She prefaced this by saying “I saw you, and I felt compelled to come and talk to you. I should tell you that I am a follower of Jesus, and I just couldn’t walk past without talking to you.” Here it was again. Another religious person, who felt compelled to come and have a chat to me, possibly the least religious person on the planet. Once again, she was perfectly lovely, and nothing about her demeanour or speech gave me the sense that she was trying to save my soul or convert me to a life of loving God. To be honest, all she wanted to do was talk about Jesus for a little bit, her relationship with him, and how finding him had ‘filled an emptiness’ she had felt. She told me about how she used to be filled with anxiety, and how once she would have been terrified about talking to a stranger. She told me how finding Jesus had given her a kind of peace that she had been missing before. As encounters with religious people go, it was definitely one of the better ones. We had a bit of a chat, and then she wished me a good day and went on her merry way.

I don’t know really what I should be taking from this. I mean, it’s not like I suddenly want to go out and confess my sins, or start attending mass every Sunday. Hell, I’d probably go up in flames if I set foot in a church these days. It’s possible I’m just reading too much into it, and perhaps they were just two kind people who wanted to talk to someone about their faith? Or it could be that I just look like I need saving. You’ve heard of resting bitch face, maybe I have Resting Satan Face? Who knows!

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Strangers and Their Small Talk

It’s no secret that I’m not a social person. I have very few friends, and I’m not especially fond of the idea of making new ones. This is largely because I am acutely uncomfortable in new social situations, particularly when I have to maintain conversation with someone I’ve only just met. However this social awkwardness and discomfort is not reserved solely for new people. It also applies to people I already know, and haven’t seen in a few years.

I truly dislike being recognised by people I used to know, or by casual acquaintances. Because with that recognition comes the expectation – nay, obligation – that I engage in a conversation with said person. And given my propensity for feeling anxious in unfamiliar situations, this is a sure fire way to make me feel uncomfortable. Twice this past week, I have been recognised by someone who is familiar to me, though I didn’t have a close relationship with either. The first was a teacher who taught my brothers in either primary school, or early high school. She wasn’t even a teacher who taught me, but nevertheless she recognised my face, and struck up a conversation about how we all (myself and my siblings) were, and what we were doing with our lives.

The second person to recognise me was a cousin of one of my school friends, who I haven’t spoken to in probably two years. She recognised me, and again struck up a friendly conversation. Now, there are two things I should point out in both of these scenarios. The first, is that both of these encounters happened whilst I was at work. And the second is that neither one of these conversations were inherently bad, impolite, or rude. Quite the opposite, in fact. It was simply that I was put into a situation, by way of standing at the counter of the shop that these two people happened to need a service from, where I was unable to simply politely nod and move on, as I would have done had I passed them on the street.

I am one of those people who will, when I am out in public, avoid people that I may potentially end up stuck talking to, unless they are someone that I know well and enjoy talking with. For example, I ran into a good friend of mine in the supermarket the other day, and was more than happy to stop and chat to her for a few minutes. But if I know there’s even the remote possibility that I may have to have a conversation with someone that I don’t really know all that well and/or haven’t seen in a while, I will do anything I can to avoid it. Partly because of the aforementioned awkwardness, but also because I abhor filler conversation. I don’t really want to be subjected to a ten minute tirade about your recent hospital trip, or hear how that person we went to school with is getting married. By the same token, I really have nothing interesting to tell other people either. At the most, I would be content with a “hey, how’re you doing?” and the reciprocal “good thanks!” whilst both of us continued on our way without stopping. I don’t want to feel compelled to continue a mundane conversation, just because someone else is up for a chat.

This is something I encounter a lot at my job. I work in a kiosk, visible to everyone who passes. This seems to encourage people to come and talk to me, or ask me questions that people in proper closed-in shops don’t seem to deal with. I get stopped at least daily to get asked where the Tattslotto shop is in the centre. It’s literally right next to me, clearly signed and visible, and yet people will ask me constantly, often interrupting me to do so. And then there are the customers who, completely unprovoked, will proceed to give me a ten minute story about one thing or another. The tendency of complete strangers to give up personal information to people they don’t know is astounding. I have been told more than once that I come across as distinctly unapproachable, and yet something about being at my counter makes people want to chat to me for significant lengths of time. I am like the bartender in american sitcoms, who acts as some kind of wise man/therapist. It is a job that I never asked for, but rather seems to have been thrust upon me.

I, of course, can’t be rude to these people. After all, a customer wanting to have a chat is hardly the worst thing I might encounter in a day. But it doesn’t mean I want to stand there and make small talk with a stranger, or semi stranger. So if you ever see me down the street, give me a wave and I’ll happily wave back. But if ever you want to strike up a conversation, just remember that I will probably hate every second, and be counting down until it’s polite to make an excuse and sidle away.