22 April 2007

Happiness in Black Town

Another thing I'm doing at the moment is catching the train out a long way from the Sydney CBD a couple of days a week to do work in a really big office. It's okay actually. Nice long ride for a bit of editing or reading or sleeping.

Yesterday I went into a giant mega-mall, to visit the chemist. I'd just had lunch on my own at a cafe (paid too much) and was looking for shoe inserts, also really needed to cash a cheque and get back to the office to look like a good worker, and worth the expense. So I went to pay and the young woman says "Hi how are you today?" and I say in my usual distracted monotone "good thanks". And she replies "You don't look too happy". My mouth just about dropped open in surprise at this statement. I must have had my steely determined city /eastern suburbs face on, and looked kind of miserable. I wasn't I was just concentrating, honest!

Maybe you cross an invisible border between cultures on the western line where people are that much more blunt and honest, like when Argentinians say "hey there skinny" when they want to get your attention and it doesn't occur to anyone to take offense.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That's funny isn't it. You probably had a 'fuck off and don't talk to me I have a million things on my mind' face on - I get that one too. It's the emoticon cone of silence for coping in city life, non? Someone was telling me that in Vietnam people often will ask 'are you happy?' and mean it. It made me reflect that in our culture it's almost verging on rude to ask that - like this is some private quest, and not for discussion in public. Like asking someone how their morning shit was, or whether they got any last night - kind of not polite. It's nice to have some honesty cut through the politeness of stranger to stranger interraction sometimes.