Colleen's thoughts on writing, directing and coaching, and her unique take on life itself!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Walking and smiling (at the same time)

So there I am, conversing with my assistant, Aaron, about people we pass, walking the sidewalks and streets of North Seattle.

The inspiration: running errands afoot rather than using the car. Healthy *and* green.

CP: There must be a lot of unhappy people in the world.

A: Why do you say that?

CP: Because of all the people we've passed, almost none of them smile. Or say howdy.

A: Why should they smile? Or speak to anyone?

CP: I don't know. Maybe because they're happy. Because they're grateful to be alive on such a beautiful day. Because they have the use of their legs, because they can see, because they're polite, because they enjoy-

A: Do you smile while you walk?

CP: All the time.

A: That's unusual. Most people don't smile when they walk. They just walk.

CP: Why don't they smile?

A: Why would they? Why should they?

CP: Because they're happy to be alive- because they're friendly?

A: Most people just want to get from one place to the next. They don't have any particular feeling about it.

CP: So. You're saying that smiling and walking is unusual?

A: 'fraid so.

CP: You're saying that *I'm* the odd one, not all those people frowning, grousing, looking at the pavement, ignoring everyone passing them.

A: Uh huh. Most people just don't smile when they walk.

CP: (silence)

A: Sorry.

CP: I'm still going to smile. (To passer by - smiling) Good morning!

(The passer by is left a little shaken by someone interrupting his turgid walk. Uncertain how to react, he practically trips wondering if he should respond, or if he should - how).

CP: Point taken. Still going to smile. Say hi.

A: Knock yourself out.

CP: I still can't believe it's considered odd to smile and say howdy to folks passing by. That I'm "odd." This is Seattle. We're supposed to be friendly. Not Canadian friendly*, mind you, but normal friendly, eh?

A: Um hum. You're the odd one.

(We continue walking - me shaking my head, him smiling - not at other people, at my apparent oddness)

CP: Fine. I'll just be odd. And friendly. And smile when I walk. I believe it would be a better world if everyone did.

A: Maybe that's because you're a writer. You live in an imaginary world. Or two. Or three.

(OK - it may have been my imagination, but I could swear Aaron scooted just a little farther away from me as we made our way up the street).

*Canadian friendly=offering you their parking spot as they head toward their car, about to leave; handing a street person begging on the corner a cigarette from behind the driver's wheel; helping you carry bags to your car, hotel or remote home if you're having trouble managing all of them; lying down over a mud puddle so you don't have to sully your shoes as you traverse over him or her ...

There's more, but you get the idea.

No wonder Mounties always get their man - all the Mountie has to do is walk into a Canadian bar, show a photo and ask, "Can anyone help me find this scumbag?" I bet a Mountie even adds, "Please."

And suddenly he or she has a posse. A posse that probably carries extra pieces of carrots and apples just in case a Mountie's horse needs a nibble.

I wouldn't be surprised if the posse gives the caught culprit a snack of carrots and apple on the way to the hoosegow.

Yep. I bet Canadians walk and smile simultaneously, even out in the woods.

And say "hi" to any human or creature they pass as they perambulate. Oh, yeah.

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  • At 5:17 PM, Blogger The Entertainment Corner said…

    As a Canadian (born and raised) I can assure you with 100% certainty that is a horrible and incorrect stereo type that all Canadians are friendly & helpful.

    We have more than our fair share of rude, ignorant and miserable people in this country.

    Not everyone says "Hello" and not everyone (or many people for that matter) will stop to help a fellow human being.

  • At 5:22 PM, Blogger cp said…


    I claim "writer's world" insanity MM!

    I know there are rude, ignorant and miserable Canadians just as I know for a fact there are polite and friendly Americans!


  • At 12:52 PM, Blogger alexis said…

    The not saying hello or smiling at your neighbors during a walk was very jarring when I was in Seattle. The only city in the nation that I have experienced that.

  • At 9:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    To Alexis. I have lived in Cali, Texas, and Detroit, and now in Portland...and I have experienced similar as you and the fine writer of this fine blog. :)


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