Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain



I have resting bitch-face.  My lips naturally turn down at the sides when my face is at it’s resting position.  Which is often perceived as me frowning, I guess.  I don’t know of anyone whose lips naturally turn up into a smiling composition when they’re not intentionally smiling, but whatever.

I’m sitting here, minding my own business, doing my job.  Which is to say I’m staring at a computer screen, entering data, editing that data, and as a result I’m concentrating.  My face is at a resting position.

On more than one occasion, more than one male that I work with, has walked through as I’m sitting here at my desk, doing my work, staring at my computer screen, entering data, editing that data, and as a result concentrating, and said to me, “Smile!  You should smile more!”

I have never, in all the time I’ve worked here heard them tell any of the men who sit within earshot, also staring at their computers, also working, also concentrating, and also with resting bitch-face, to smile.  Never. Not once.


I have also not seen or heard any of the men at this workplace attempt to force other men to smile. I’ve not heard them referred to as, “sweetheart, “sugar,” “darlin’,” or “good lookin’.”

I’ve not heard any of the men tell the other men that they look good in those jeans.  Or stand over their desks playing a game of keep away with papers to try to illicit a response.

I no longer wear jeans to work because of this.

I refuse to play the game of keep away with the papers.

I’m then told, “You need to smile more.  You’re so pretty.  You’d be prettier if you smiled.”


Why?  Why do I need to sit here staring at my computer screen with a smile plastered on my face?  So I’ll look prettier?  For whom?  Excuse me, that wasn’t part of the job description when they hired me.  I wasn’t told I’d need to smile so I’d look prettier for the men-folk.  I was hired to do a job and I do it damned well.  They don’t pay me to smile and look pretty.

Who does not know that this is inappropriate?

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m extremely uncomfortable with attention.  Maybe I’m taking this all the wrong way due to that fact.  I have always appreciated compliments on the work I do and my intellect far more than commentary on my appearance inside and outside of the office.

Somehow I muster a smile.

“Oh, see, at least I got you to smile!”

On the outside, asshole.  Only with my lips.  My eyes are telling a different story.  Did you not feel those daggers?

Rant over.


36 thoughts on “Smile

  1. You should start saying it to them randomly, the same men who say it to you. I wonder what the response would be. I’m happy to say I haven’t heard that for years – I’d like to think it’s a culture shift but I suspect I’m just over the hill. Lots of fresh air over here! 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Would you get fired if you told them where to go?

    Can I tell them where to go?


    • I work in an office that is somewhat a rat maze. I work in the very back office and have to walk past everyone to come in or to leave. I also have to walk by the main perpetrator’s desk to get to the toilet. I kid you not, not sometimes, not every now and then, EVERY.SINGLE.TIME. I walk past he has to make some remark about my appearance, be it my hair, my clothes, my shoes…ugh!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. To console you: people tell me that all the time. And it’s not just RBF. Apparently my resting face send the message that I look down on people- which is because of nothing more than the shape of my eyes and eyebrows…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I dress dumpy enough that no one would compliment me unless they really wanted something. Being a guy it doesn’t really count. Maybe it’s the only way they know to be nice and they are not hitting on you. Next time they ask you for a smile grin like a ravenous tiger and use the eye daggers, too. Eventually they will leave you alone. I hope.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So far, no dice. Meh…

      I think I won’t use the ravenous tiger smile. I’ve tried the sarcastic, piss off, smile. That’s not working either.


  5. I once worked as a bank teller, and I had a head teller that constantly made really inappropriate remarks to me. She was always looking for an excuse to tell me I should shake my ass or take off clothes to drum up business. Despite telling her that it was inappropriate, she kept on doing it. So I went to my branch manager, and I told her that I wanted to file a complaint. My branch manager let me know that she was going to make the process as miserable as possible, because complaints like that are just messy.

    Ideally, you ought to be able to just file a sexual harassment complaint and be done with it. Still, even in today’s day and age, it’s impossible to use the rules to protect against some assholes. Even worse, if you tell these people you don’t like them in any way imaginable, there’s just as good a chance as any that they’ll be petty and vindictive about it.

    I ended up having to just ignore my head teller. Any time she’d make a comment, I’d get this look on my face like it was the most boring thing she could possibly say. Although it didn’t stop things outright, it reduce the frequency that I had to deal with it.

    As far as the guy you have to walk by is concerned, I’d flat out not talk to him unless he says something appropriate for the workplace. You’re there because the company pays you, not because you want to see him there. With regards to the other people, I’d get a sign for my cubicle that says, “I’m at work. Smiles cost $25. Payment in advance.” Just point to it whenever someone tells you to smile more.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Good grief! Seriously? Ugh!

      And, yes, those kinds of complaints are messy. It’s all this “he said, she said” crap and trying to judge intent just isn’t that easy.

      I try not to be a complainer. We have enough of those around here. Lord have mercy if we had enough cheese to go with all the whine around here we wouldn’t shit for a month! At the moment I’m being polite. If it goes any further that’ll probably change. But when I walk by and someone says, “Hey, good lookin’,” both the men and the women think you’re just being a jerk if you seem anything less than grateful for the compliment. So I either keep walking and pretend I didn’t here it or mumble a, “Thanks,” and keep going. If I were to say, “Cut the crap, I don’t appreciate it,” I’d be viewed as just being a bitch. Maybe I am.

      It’s kind of hard to know just exactly how to handle it. I don’t want to make the work environment around here icy but I definitely don’t want to encourage the behavior, either.

      I like your idea bout the sign. I think I’ll give that one a try!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hmmmm… Ruth, it sounds like you work somewhere in Georgia. Perhaps a rural part of Georgia. Or is it rural Texas? 😛


  7. Guys who use that line on women today tend to be socially blind. There are millions of articles on the internet about this. When a guy says that to me, I reply: “Dude, you need to get out more.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • The truth is, this dude probably does need to get out more. He’s kind of older(though not as old as I thought, his years have apparently been rough) and recently separated(maybe even divorced, not sure).


  8. Ugh! Ruth. I hate that smile crap. Being that I live in tiny southern Stepford, I’m expected to smile. Here the women feel that I need to be softer and happier. Because I am who I am, living where I live, I often prefer to watch and listen over talking. As a result, I tend to look mad. I learn a lot about people by keeping my mouth shut.

    When I was a student in Bible College in my late teens, strange male students would tell me to “smile” or “god wants to love you like a father”. To me, such things are awfully nervey to tell someone you don’t even know or barely know. Not to mention, I grew up in an abusive home with a manipulative mother and power hungry father.

    I agree with you, there’s something intrusive about a man telling a woman to smile, especially if he’s an acquaintance or a stranger. It’s kind of creepy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Definitely, Charity! I don’t say a lot. I do a lot of listening. Because I don’t talk much and engage in a lot of the gossip around here I’m perceived as less than friendly.

      Strange male students….that phrase could be construed in a variety of ways 😀

      I just think it’s a major double-standard. Women are thought of as ice queens if we’re not all smiles and bubbly. Men are thought of as serious and business-like.

      That “god wants to love you like a father who wants to marry you(and everyone else on the planet) off to your brother(Jesus),” is creepy to me. *shudder*

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree, I do think that there are times when men say it to women it’s some sort of an advance. Just say “hi” for crying out loud. I do think that men often have an ulterior motive in Church for being super “friendly” and/or saying weird spiritual stuff to women.

        When I went to an over the top cultish church while I lived in Nashville there was an incredibly creepy guy from my home group that hounded me. You wouldn’t believe what I had to go through to get the group leader’s attention to do something about it. The weirdo knocked over chairs in the house where we met to talk to me and often cornered me. One time my sister and I were trying to quietly leave a Wednesday night service. It was near the end and we quickly headed for the door during prayer as everyone stood to dismiss. I saw the creepy guy as I walked through an aisle. I tried to walk closer to the section of pews across from him so that I wouldn’t be near his section of pews. He noticed me and I briefly acknowledged him. That wasn’t enough. He then reaches way out into the aisle as I’m across from him and tightly grabs my right arm. I gave him a drop dead look and shook him off. My sister and I ran away from him so quickly that she tripped off the church’s entrance steps unto the parking lot and skinned her knees. Did I mention she was pregnant at the time? We made a mad dash for the car and went straight home.


  9. A smile is quite a funny thing;
    It wrinkles up your face,
    And when it’s gone, you’ll never find
    Its secret hiding-place.

    But fare more wonderful it is
    To see what smiles can do:
    You smile at one, he smiles at you,
    And so, one smile makes two.

    I can’t help citing this whenever smiles come up in (blog)conversations. I don’t know the name of the author, wish it were mine.-

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like the poem. And in general I agree with it. It’s not that I hate smiling. Or that I don’t think smiles are contagious. Or that I don’t like to see other people smiling and happy. Despite how it may sound, I do smile. A lot. Just not at my computer screen while I’m working. And not on command. Don’t you think smiles are better when they’re genuine?

      Liked by 2 people

      • “And not on command. Don’t you think smiles are better when they’re genuine?”

        Right? Yeah, I’m leery of people who can smile on command. These are probably the same people who can manufacture a smile for photos when told, “Say cheese!”. Me? ‘Can’t do it. Someone has to say something that’s actually funny, otherwise, I tend to get that Moray Eel sort of “smile” if I do one for the camera. Naw, hell no.


  10. No doubt that only a genuine smile makes two. Also, I think, eyes are able to smile as agreeably as lips.-


  11. Forgot to add that I the poem can be nicely sung to the tune of “Auld Lang Syne” (that’s how I learned it) .=


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