I feel uncomfortable socializing with service staff during commercial transactions at restaurants, grocery stores, coffee shops, the gym, etc. Sure, they always have a smile and ask “How are you?”, but they’re paid to be friendly. There’s a very good chance that they don’t mean it. If they’re not nice to you, then their manager will not be nice to them. Of course, this is part of the service I’m buying, so really, I’m paying them to be nice to me. (It’s a slippery slope from that to prostitution, but I won’t go there.) This makes me feel totally awkward, and if anything I feel sorry for them, having to act as though they like me, and I tend to be pretty stiff. I actually detest customers who lap up this artificial niceness and hook the staff into meaningful conversations, trying to elicit more more more niceness (like a mouse frantically hitting a button to receive more endorphins) while other customers (that’s me) are waiting in line. And I respect service people who are rude, because at least they’re expressing authentic emotion and not bending to the edicts of their managers. Ironically, I probably seem unfriendly, and the baristas at Starbucks probably all think I’m a huge dick.