The Happy Day of Positive McOptimist

77/365, you´re never fully dressed without a smile!We are standing in front of a Czech bureaucratic building, which is like a square hemorrhoid in the Prague 10. Like most hemorrhoids, it is surrounded by misery. The people are miserable, the architecture drab, the plant life stunted and gnarled. The sun doesn’t seem to shine in this part of the city.

“Smile,” I say.

B, my partner in crime, linguistic safety net, and vibe masseuse, spreads a big smile across her face. “Like this?”

“Yes.” We are grinning like jack-o’-lanterns. “Today, this—” I point at my maniacal smile, “is our armor.”


Those around us surely think we are suffering in some manner. “I’ll be right back. I need to confirm my appointment.” I step towards the hemorrhoid. The Ukrainians, Russians, and Vietnamese step away and glare at my broad smile as though it’s a tarantula they have found in their morning cereal.

On days that I am forced to visit a Czech bureaucratic office smiling is a nearly impossible action. And that is because these visits are as enjoyable as setting your genitals on fire and then feeding them to a wolverine. The building is a shrine to Murphy’s Law and the experience is always riddled with frustration and outbursts of explosive and creative epithets.

But not today.

Today I have decided that things will go right as long as I smile. I will be nice, happy, jovial, and pleasant no matter what happens and somehow things will work out.

I can’t see the woman at the information window, but I hear her interact with the four people in front of me and she sounds like Attila the Hun’s more aggressive older sister. On each person, she performs a crude surgical procedure to create a fresh rectum.

When I get to the window I am smiling like a drunken idiot. “Dobrý den!” I stumble through my Czech to ask about my appointment. She finds my name, confirms my appointment, and then, I swear, she smiles at me.

“Děkuji,” I say. Thank you

“Určitě,” she answers with a warm grin. Absolutely   

The rest of the day goes the way a day in a bureaucratic office goes. I have roughly 13,000 pieces of official paper, signed, notarized, and in duplicate, but the pretty woman helping us finds that I am missing one piece of paper. She also tells me that one of my documents requires the university president’s signature. Oh, yeah, no problem. We are close to frowning, groaning, shouting, and giving up, but instead we look at each and say, “Smile,” and ask for her help.

The pretty woman (who was crying when we arrived – not my fault, I asked) smiles and tells us with a wink that if we get her the paper by closing time, we’ll be OK.

We have two hours. Off we go!

I won’t keep you in the suspense that is surely gluing you to the edge of your seat: it all works out with serendipitous flair. The right people happen to be at the university and help me sort out the paperwork. The right administrators contact the right people just as they are leaving the building. The document I need happen to be ready early. Someone calls the president of the university who sorts out the other problem in two minutes.

We get back to the bureaucratic office an hour later, armed with the missing paperwork and smiles. The pretty woman is no longer crying, she takes the papers and we leave on tip toes, afraid to upset the Murphy gods.

B and I spend the rest of the afternoon buying office supplies and wandering around the city. Later, Lee invites me for a beer, which turns out to be six beers. Maybe it’s naïve to believe things will work out just because you smile and have a positive outlook.

But today they have.

  1. #1 by Tiffany N. York on October 3, 2013 - 12:19 am

    I must learn from you, grasshopper. I always ooze attitude and bitchiness. I can’t seem to help it. And all that ever gets me is strange, creepy men following me home.

    I especially like the visual image of creating a fresh rectum. Thank you for that.

    • #2 by Damien Galeone on October 3, 2013 - 1:44 pm

      Well, don’t men follow you home all the time? And I am always here to help you get disgusted by a juicy metaphor!

  2. #3 by greg galeone on October 3, 2013 - 3:38 am

    that approach unfortunately did not work with hitler.

    • #4 by Damien Galeone on October 3, 2013 - 1:43 pm

      Well, fortunately I didn’t have to visit the office of dictatorships.

  3. #5 by Andy on October 3, 2013 - 9:32 pm

    “Later, Lee invites me for a beer, which turns out to be six beers.”
    So in other words, a typical visit to the pub?

    P.S. It could be worse; at least your government is OPEN.

  4. #6 by Amber Lite on October 3, 2013 - 10:31 pm

    Love the building as a hemorrhoid comparison; ‘the sun doesn’t shine there’ was such a cherry on top!

    @Andy – Nice! 🙂

  5. #7 by Amy on October 5, 2013 - 8:53 pm

    I do find the darker my mood the more bad shit happens to me. So I try… and bitch in falsetto.

    • #8 by Damien Galeone on October 9, 2013 - 2:58 pm

      Yeah, I find that the grumpier my morning starts, the more things around me tend to grate on me for no reason. Euphoria resides in a glass of bourbon.

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