I had an epiphany the other night whilst I lay awake in the early hours, I thought i would conduct a social experiment using myself as the preverbal lab rat (some may say that I have been typecast).
What if for twenty four hours I was nice and thoughtful to the people I came into contact with, rather than being the cynical grumpy northern bloke that I am so proud to be. So Friday last week I got out of bed and started the experiment.
The first thing I did was make Ann a cup of tea in bed (that was not to difficult, I do that every morning) Kissed her on the cheek and said “good morning darling and how are you today”? The look on her face was that of someone who had woken up in a parallel universe, you know the sort of look that says “I know your up to something, what is it and will it cost me”?
Not to be deterred by this shall we say luke warm reception I had a shower got ready to go to the Hospital for a check up on my broken arm. I arrived at the hospital smiled nicely at the receptionist and said “good morning and how are you today”? I was greeted with a look that would stop a Rottweiler at fifty paces, she looked at my notes, I think she was checking to see if I had mental issues and interrogated me in a way that only an NHS receptionist can.
After a short wait I was summoned to see the doctor who informed me that my arm was broken (no shit Sherlock) I could have told him that, without any medical credentials and to go and get an Xray. I was still nice and smiled and dutifully made my way to the Xray department were the Radiologist started to torture me and made me cry. I again smiled in between the stifled sobbing and returned to the waiting room to see the doctor once more who informed me that my arm was still broken and there was nothing they could do but look at it again next month.
After this ordeal I thought I would try my experiment out on my colleagues at work. I thought I would treat them to a coffee and duly delivered it to there desks. Being cynical media types (they had already read my twitter message about my experiment) proceeded to remind me of all that weeks misdemeanors and one even suggested that I might have spiked her coffee and was very dubious about drinking it.
Throughout this ordeal I still was pleasant, wasn’t grumpy once although there was plenty of situations that warranted it, I just smiled and and tried to be positive.
It is strange though that most people when faced with someone who is smiling and being polite react in two ways the first one is that you are obviously a nutter and scuttle away as quick as possible or secondly join in and make the experience of human interaction a very pleasant experience.
We tend to blame technology and social media for the lack of communication skills in the young but I think its just that we have become lazy and cannot be bothered with small talk anymore, it takes effort to be pleasant all the time. I really enjoyed this experience and I cannot promise not to be cynical in the future but I think I will make the effort to make small talk more often, and not only with blonde lithe young women. it is amazing the effect it has on you and your day.
Just one last point in the defense of technology, to celebrate my fifteen hours of being nice I tweeted that I was going for a celebratory pint to my local, to my surprise the pint was waiting for me on the bar as I walked in, now that is a useful piece of technology.