Before now, I've never really worked in a job that was high-public-contact. Before now, I didn't really know what a fake smile felt like.
I've always been one of those "if you don't feel it, you don't smile" types. Which is not to say I was surly and unsmiling, quite the contrary. Just that jobs involving the first line of defence, as I sometimes come to think of my job, mean the public have an uncanny knack of dropping in, or calling on the phone, at precisely the worst moment. But it's my job to deal with them and keep them away from interrupting anyone else. I have to smile, whether I want to or not.
Hence the fake smile, although fake is the wrong word. Insincere comes closer. Plastic feels best: it's not that it's not a smile, it's just that there's no real meaning other than the perfunctory and the professional behind it. No warmth or genuine attempt to bond.
And boy does that feel different. My eyes never feel quite right: they're too hard, and they sit at the top of my cheeks like a blockage, and the smile feels like it's cracking because my cheeks are so surprised to be pulling out a warm gesture when the body chemicals have given no warning.