Next to my assigned parking space at home is the only unassigned space on that side of the lot. I assume that the reason it’s unassigned is the fact that it straddles a speed bump and whomever had it assigned to them bitched about it enough to move them down a space. A neighbor from the next building down has been using that spot for the most part since moving in, I assume again because someone else in their household is using the one assigned space we get for each unit.
So, the other day I was getting home from work, tired and disgruntled as usual and pulled into the parking lot. That very neighbor was getting out of her Cherokee as I drove up and parked after waiting for her to move so I didn't hit her. I get my handfuls of things, most likely my lunch bag from work plus some beer I picked up on the way home and exit the car. I stand to find myself face to face with said neighbor whom I've never spoken to before and at this point thought was at her building by now.
My first expression was probably an expression of slight startlement as I said “Hey” or something to this odd person standing uncomfortably before me. I’m figuring that my expressions have a lot to do with this interaction because the only other words I said to her were “Yes” when she asked me if I put “That sticker on the back of your car” and “No” when she asked if I knew a good church in the area.
After this brief exchange she started nervously rambling about just moving to the area and didn't know any churches and she’s looking for a new church with her husband who would like to find a new church which would be great if they could find since they’re new… as she’s awkwardly walking away from me towards her building. I stood there trying to smile pleasantly. After a moment I began to walk up to my own building, confused at the exchange and her reaction, not really sure how my 3 words sent this stranger on a babbling retreat. I played the situation over in my head understanding that I guess I could have been friendlier and maybe should have said more.
Then I think I came to a slight understanding. Over the course of this very short exchange I felt several strong jabs of emotion and there are times, especially when I’m tired, that I cannot mask whatever strong feelings might reflect in my facial expressions.
At the start of the conversation I was slightly startled, then she accusingly asked me if I “Put that sticker on my car” which instantly got me defensive and ready for a fight. When she asked if I knew a good church I immediately felt the surging hatred toward proselytizers with the nerve to feel the need to preach and pray for my lost soul because of a Cthulhu sticker… until it hit me that she didn't even know what the Cthulhu fish was and she was just an idiot for thinking I was a devout enough Xian to place a fish on my car. It was that last emotion of antipathy that probably fueled that final smile that I was trying to make friendly. I guess it didn't work.