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HUMINT: Smile for Effect
humint ^ | 04 Mar 2007 | humint

Posted on 03/04/2007 10:56:04 AM PST by humint


Months ago I wrote a post about the American Street. In it, I describe a verbal exchange I had with a communist propagandizer. Despite the obnoxious T-Shirt this snake oil salesman was wearing, and despite the fact he was trying hard to attract attention – almost everyone around him was doing a good job of ignoring him. I however could not ignore him. You might be asking, why did humint notice a subversive newspaper salesman among an ocean of busy bodies, shuffling diligently from point “A” to point “B”? The answer is ridiculously simple. I noticed him because of a game I play when I’m in the street. It’s a game I call SMILES.

Here’s how the game works; The next time you find yourself walking down the street, in New York City, Tel Aviv, London, Riyadh, Paris, Amman, Los Angeles, Cairo, Munich or Tehran, look passers by in the eye and smile at them. If they smile back, give yourself a point.

I made up the game SMILES a long time ago but still catch myself playing it today. The premise of the game is so simple you’ll quickly forget you’re playing it. Regardless of the game, it’s a regular habit of mine to be friendly and smile at strangers. I’ve found that one can learn a great deal from sparking up random conversations. Some of the best conversations I’ve ever had were predicated on nothing more than a friendly smile. Over the years, I’ve come to realize, playing the game has subtle benefits for all players.

While it would be easy to fill a book with the various responses I’ve received from men, women, young people, old people, happy people, sad people, punks, freaks, businessmen, politicians, students, professors, janitors and many more… I’ll just share one rather interesting story about playing the game in Manhattan a few summers ago.

What’s fascinating about the streets of Manhattan is that walking there; you’ll bump into every kind of person you can imagine in just a few minutes. Despite any preconceived notions you may have about New York City, (Hollywood’s disinformation campaign), it is very easy to get a high score playing SMILES there. What invariably happens to me when I’m there; people immediately start asking me for directions.

That said I’m not from Manhattan. It doesn’t matter though. Manhattan is easy to navigate on foot. Traveling by car through the caverns of concrete and steel is a different story though. I’ve done my share of driving in New York City which is another game entirely. I call that game – Lahore Cab Driver (LCD). LCD is probably the most frustrating game on the planet. Avoid it if you can. But I digress.

Some might find lost inquisitors looking for their destination annoying, but I don’t mind helping them out at all. It’s a great opportunity to guess the origins of their accents, age and ask things like, “how long they are staying?” or “what restaurants they’ve enjoyed visiting?”. What SMILES will teach you, if you play it right, are that people are always complex, usually beautiful, sometimes brilliant, often funny and constantly busy. Try it sometime, but be subtle about it. I don’t want to bump into someone who asks me if I’m playing SMILES. I’m probably just being friendly anyway.

TOPICS: Society; Travel
KEYWORDS: effect; for; humint; smile

[Planets Play SMILES too] The Other Face of Mars

Less sinister than its infamous Red Planet companion, this smiling Martian was called the "Happy Face Crater" by scientists who spotted it. This image was made in 1999 by the Mars Orbiter Camera onboard the Mars Global Surveyor. The contented crater sits on the east side of Argyre Planitia. Its official name is the Galle Crater, and it is about 134 miles (215 kilometers) across. The bluish-white tone is caused by wintertime frost. The smiling crater was first seen, in black and white (below), by the Viking Orbiter back in the 1970s.

1 posted on 03/04/2007 10:56:05 AM PST by humint
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