An office worker from Birmingham has broken the world record for sustaining an awkward, toothless grin after a colleague he vaguely knew caught his eye as they walked towards each other. Thirty-five year old Mike Ambridge unwillingly maintained the idiotic expression for almost three minutes after making eye contact with Kate from Accounts – a woman he briefly spoke to on a training course four years ago.
‘I noticed Kate when she was about 95 metres away,’ said the polite yet socially awkward Ambridge. ‘I immediately looked down hoping she hadn’t seen me but to my horror, when I looked up again, she was staring right at me. I had no phone on me to pretend to look at and so my face involuntarily spasmed into insincere smirk mode for the duration of the never-ending walk from the toilet, past Kate back to my desk.’
Scientists researching the phenomenon admit they simply don’t know why the face contorts into an imbecilic, closed-mouthed half-smile when forced to cross the path of a semi-known person. But as Dr Liz Masters from University College Hospital explains, a cure is urgently needed.
‘Everybody’s a loser when this happens – the smiler, the smilee and anybody unfortunate enough to witness the event. They all end up feeling like shit,’ she said.
Ambridge’s record-breaking grin certainly seems to have left him psychologically wounded.
‘It’s definitely the most excruciating moment in the work environment I’ve suffered since denying ownership of a fart I hadn’t done to a lift full of people who hadn’t even noticed it,’ he said.