Do you ever walk past someone and, in a fit of complete boredom and perhaps curiosity, you make up a story about them?
See, I walked past a lollipop man last week (the crossing guard, who holds up the stop sign near a school crossing and blows a whistle to let you cross), and to be polite I smiled and said hi. His expression didn’t change, and he didn’t say hi back.
The thing is, a few months back I walked past the same lollipop man, at the same crossing, at the same time of the day, and he would smile warmly and say hi back at me.
Yesterday I walked past that lollipop man, and as he stepped out into the road with his stop sign to blow the whistle, he smiled at a student who goes to the school he guards the crossing for (I’m obviously not in uniform). I assumed he didn’t smile at familiar faces, because he would definitely remember me because recently I’ve been crossing there rather often.
Today, as I stood at the curb waiting for him to step out, I saw my bus come up. The crossing is around 30 meters away from the bus stop, and as I saw the bus draw up and he had to let it pass, I sighed to myself. He said to me with a smile, “is that your bus? You better run for it!”
I made the bus, just. As I sat down on the bus, slightly out of breath (dude, I am so unfit), I thought about his smile and words to me.
He obviously realized that I’m going to be showing up a lot more, so was he trying to make conversation in order to have a good reason to smile and say hi the next time I cross at his crossing? But he should remember me from me crossing a few months back, and even if I didn’t show up for a bit, I smiled at him and said hi when I crossed, so I took the initiative to bridge the hiatus right?
And it wasn’t that he didn’t say hi to anyone anymore; he did to the student.
So I made up a small story about why he didn’t say hi to me at first.
Maybe he has another job, and in that job he had come across Asian kids who wronged him somehow, or gave him an impression of untrustworthy Asian kids – look, I’m not being racist against him or against Asians, but Asians are just as likely to hold up a 7/11 as a white kid or a curry kid or whatever, but I’m Asian so it’s my weird logic – and he was so taken by this impression that he wouldn’t even smile at another Asian. I wouldn’t blame him – if an Asian guy with a, say, mohawk beat me up or something, I would not be able to really look at another Asian guy with a mohawk.
OR he used to smile and say hi to an Asian kid and then that Asian kid got into some accident or something bad, and everytime he sees an Asian kid, he remembers that other Asian kid and feels sad. He was just wary of being attached to another Asian kid, no matter how fleeting their “conversation” are.
But I mean, it’s rather interesting what our mind makes up about another stranger based on ONE action that they do. For another example, I was in the bathroom at the shopping center fixing my hair (oh hush) and as I walked into the bathroom, I immediately went to the sinks and got out my hairwax, and started fixing my hair in the mirror. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a lady who was there already making an action which I immediately knew was her stopping herself from crying and quickly wiping away tears. I decided not to suddenly walk out after obviously noticing she was just crying, because it would make her feel slightly worse that other people are avoiding her and that it was obvious she was upset, but I snuck another look at her through the mirror. She was taking deep breaths to calm herself, and if she’d looked my way I was going to give her a reassuring smile, but she quickly sniffed and wiped her cheeks, then walked out.
As far as my imagination could go, she could have just murdered someone and felt remorse. I could have gone on to imagine something Hollywood like her husband cheated on her, and he has a large trust-fund or something. Or maybe she was actually a spy (HOMG I WAS GONNA SMILE AT A SPY) and her husband doesn’t know, and is going to leave her because he thinks she doesn’t love him anymore (I didn’t notice if she had a ring, but if she was a spy a ring means nothing).
Or maybe she just got told off by her boss. So.