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The America files



Extreme, superficial American friendliness

Summer 2011 —

I lived outside of the U.S. for eleven years, between 2000 and 2011.

I still am not accustomed to the excessive friendliness of Americans. It's kind of annoying sometimes — and, considering the viciousness of the politic here, a little bit creepy.

I was at the local supermarket and as I approached a relevant part of the produce department, I noticed out the periphery of my vision that a middle-aged male employee was gazing at me with a big-eyed, exhuberant, I'm-here-to-help-you look. And I know he just wanted to be friendly, I guess, which then makes me feel a little bit guilty about my cantankerousness — but for fuck's sake. I'm not shopping because I want to, and I'd prefer to just go about my business unless I need to ask a question or somebody wants to speak with me in some way that is at least partially sincere.

I almost avoided buying peppers because I wasn't in the mood for that kind of cloying, extreme wide-eyed helpfulness.

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