The power of positive thinking is an amazing thing but like all power, it can be used for good or evil.
Years ago, while working at an absolutely wonderful company by the name of Linkline, in scenic Ontario, Phil, Chrisse and I had completely run out of places to eat. Over two years of eating lunch together five times a week and we’d hit the end of the line. Yes, we could have eaten at the charming little deli run by the pedophile…again. Oh and there was always Olive Garden of course (it’s just like eating in Tuscany!). So we were out of ideas and, honestly, way past the point of caring. Which left us eating at the “at least it’s close” restaurants, one of which was IHOP. Nothing good has ever been consumed at an IHOP, but there was something different going on with this one than there was at any other shitty little coffee shop I’d ever been to.
The first time we went there, we walked through the doors and there was this giant Mexican dude waiting for us, already holding three menus in his hand. Making direct eye contact, he said, “Just the three of you, today?” and when we nodded yes, he said, “Sounds great, right this way. You folks having a good day today?” Again, we nodded yes, and then he took our drink order and told us that Sarah (or whoever) would be right back with our drinks, and I gotta tell you, this guy honestly didn’t seem to give a shit about anything other than getting our drinks to us as soon as possible.
“He’s cheerful,” said Chrisse, and then Phil and I laughed. Then the waitress brought us our drinks, not a minute after we’d sat down and she asked us if we were ready to order but not before asking us if we were having a good day. And, again, I have to say, it really seemed like a genuine question. This time I responded with something like, “Doin’ alright, how ’bout yourself?” And she said she couldn’t complain and thanked me for asking.
The rest of the lunch was more of the same and by the time we walked out of there, all of us were mildly freaked out at how goddamn happy everyone in there was. It was like this weird enforced happiness that you just know originated at the desk of some corporate douche. The next time we ate there it was exactly the same thing, and the third time we ate there, we were no longer freaked out by it. Speaking solely for myself, the more time that went by and the more we ate there, the more I really got into it. Everyone there seemed genuinely happy – actually, everyone there was genuinely happy…no one can act that well, that consistently for minimum wage – and it was really infectious. I found myself leaving there in a better mood than I was when I came in and ultimately found myself wishing I could trade my $40K/yr job with one of the waiters there. Only, you know, not really…but sorta. And when I ate at other restaurants I found the positive atmosphere noticeably absent. It was an excellent lesson in the power of positive thinking, and was the only time I’d encountered that sort of thing outside a self-help book.
Until last week. For whatever reason, my boss has been asking me to go to the bank a lot lately and, well, anything to get me out of the office. So I off I went to the local Wells Fargo to make a deposit and when I entered the building I was no longer in the world you and I come from. I was now in Happy Land. Happy Land is completely different from that old IHOP I used to go to, much the same way the Japan Pavilion at Disney’s Epcot Center is different from Japan. It is artificial, and sterile, and horribly inhuman. It’s all terribly Stepford.
I hate Happy Land.
I had to go to the bank this morning, which is something I’m finding increasingly unpleasant. And this morning, I snapped a little, making the total number of bank visits without incident around five or six. Beginning pretty much at sunrise, today has been a dark, overcast day, and when I walked in the robot greeter (how is “greeter” even a fucking job?) lunges forward and says, “HI, HOW ARE YOU TODAY, ISN’T IT A BEAUTIFUL DAY?”
Wondering if she teleports to work or just drives with her eyes closed, I looked at her and said, “Actually, no, it’s the exact opposite of beautiful outside.”
And literally all of the bank employees then turned and glared at me as if I’d just said Osama Bin Laden had a couple good ideas. I closed my mouth and quietly endured the scorn for the next five minutes and when I walked out the door it actually felt like getting out of jail.
Time to find a new branch.