It is true, I go with the motto: "smile to avoid conflict".
I smile at the restaurant owner when my dog maintains eye contact while peeing in his front door. I smile every time I pass by a policeman as if I had just killed a baby. I smile at the nightclub's doorman, at the airport security people, at my company's CEO when we're stuck 1:1 in the elevator.
Sometimes that smile immediately disappears but some other times it stays for a while, hanging like a fake Mona Lisa on your wall. In my life, either the persistence of a smile is directly proportional to my fear of [input here an absurd word] or to the stupidity of my opponent. I'll illustrate this magnificent finding with a recent example.
A couple of mornings ago, I was walking my dog towards the most hideous souvenirs store in Paris. The store itself is free from guilt (despite the mediocrity of its offer) but the owner... ohmygodtheowner. Picture the typical middle-aged, villain of the neighborhood, client-repelling man with a j'ai sais quoi that yells at tourists with unexpected behavior or, in other words, at every "hello, do you have an umbrella?". My dog was really focused on a trace that led to one of the store postcard stands outside. He was smelling intensely, really into it, I'll dare to say it was the best scent he smelled that week. And, of course, I was hopelessly trying to drive his attention away. In a frustrated attempt to pull my dog's strap and get the hell out of there, I accidentally made him stumble with the stand and [dramatic music] a couple of postcards fell on the floor. By the time I put them back the man had already jumped out of his tiny chair below the counter and breathed in slowly to be able to shout at maximum capacity. To be completely honest, I didn't understand sh** of what he said but by the tune of his voice I could grasp he wasn't singing la vie en rose. And then, the most incredible thing happened.
I smiled. I looked at him and smiled, widely. All my teeth saluting him politely, relaxed, friendly. Too bad it didn't last more than a second, breaking the stupidity record. In fact, his eyes were still looking at me (the clumsy dog owner) when I stopped smiling. But it did work. I avoided conflict for a whole second. My motto was officially worth it.
Meanwhile, my dog was peeing in the stand.