So we're back to making up our own themes, as near as I can tell. This week, I'm reading a lot about hurt feelings, broken friendships and relationships, and just general not-nice-ness. Forget assuming that we're all 'friends' on the internet. People can definitely portray whatever they want online. If/when you meet someone in person, it will be the first time you meet them, even if you feel like you already know them. Forget the 'kind blog' movement. What I've seen of that has been a crock of you-know-what.
Today, I'd like to look at Thirteen Kind Things You Can Do For a Stranger. Cuz essentially? Most of us are pretty darn close to strangers. Just sayin.
- Pay the toll of the car behind you. This is one of my classic favorites. We don't have toll roads in Michigan (do we?), but when we travel, I love to do this. It's usually only fifty cents or so, and wouldn't it make your day to have the toll booth attendent just wave you through sometimes?
- Hold the door open. When you pass through a door, hold it open for the next person. I wish this could go without saying, but I've had the door drop closed in my face. Not only when I'm spry and able-bodied, but even when I was pregnant, or now pushing the stroller. C'mon - are people really in THAT much of a hurry?
- Comment on a blog. I know I always have plenty of reasons for not commenting - someone already said what I would say is my most common. But even if it's just, "I hear yah, sistah!" everyone likes to see comments on their blog, right? (and no, this doesn't mean you have to comment on this blog entry, right now. Hahahaha)
- Smile. How easy is that? I noticed when we were in Germany that very few people smiled at me, or even smiled back when I smiled. I don't know why. There's already more people smiling on the streets in the U.S. - let's keep up the trend! ;)
- Give to charity. Yeah, how expected was that? I don't mean mail off a check this time (although that's nice too). Give your spare change to the Salvation Army bell ringer at the holidays, or buy a box of Girl Scout cookies at the door to your local grocery store. It'll make them and you feel good.
- Help a neighbor. Everyone has a neighbor that they know is gone a lot, or elderly, or even just likeable. Next time you go to shovel snow (if that sort of thing occurs near you), or mow your grass, or just bring the trash cans up from the road - do it for your neighbor too. Even if they never know who it was, it sure does make the world a happier place. A couple weeks ago, our trash can full of trash fell over and started spilling its yuckiness out. I was just getting up with the baby and couldn't do a thing about it right away. While the kids were waiting for the bus (and I was changing the baby's diaper), our trash miraculously crawled back into the uprighted trash can. Thank goodness for great neighbors!
- Wave. Another super simple one for the easily amused (yes, that's me). When you're driving and see someone you know, even just a casual acquaintance, wave. Most of our neighbors wave if Maggie and I are out in the yard. I love it!
- Say 'Please,' 'Thank you,' and 'Excuse me.' We go to big events like car and boat shows. We also eat out on a regular basis. Please, Thank you, and Excuse me are invaluable little gems to toss out when you walk into someone, bash the back of their ankles with your stroller, or just want another glass of water. Too many other human beings and service people are overlooked as 'not part of my life,' and treated rudely. There's no reason for it!
- Don't gossip. Especially about people you really don't know! I have to admit, I definitely share what I hear about mutual friends with my husband. But that's usually it! If I'm talking about someone else, what am I really adding of value to a conversation with a third party. My poor husband has to hear everything, but otherwise I try to let information - especially negative information - stop with me.
- Be nice to customer service people. This is just basic politeness, like #8. I don't care how angry you are with the phone company, or your mortgage company, or Home Depot. Yelling at the customer service person (who is only making $10/hour to listen to your crap) is not going to help. There's a pretty good chance it may even hurt your case. I used to be a phone operator. Mean people have a tendency to have their calls mis-directed. Just sayin.
- Don't litter. Okay, this one may be a little unique to my situation. I live on a fairly major road. Now that it's getting warmer out, our ditch (and yard, and the area by our mailbox...) is started to grow its own fast food cups and wrappers, beer bottles, stray paper, and other stuff randomly thrown out of people's cars. (Remember, our trash can got cleaned up before it spread its mess!) Take it home and throw the garbage where it belongs, please.
- Tip. Notice I didn't even say tip well. Tip in accordance with the service you receive, or the mess you leave. See that second part? If you've got a kid (especially) that leaves half of their meal on the ground under the high chair, someone is going to have to clean that up. Tip accordingly to the additional work you're creating. I read something interesting from some mom's who have worked in fast food. They said if their kid leaves an exceptional mess at McDonald's or Burger King, they'll leave a tip there. No one is getting paid to clean up that sort of mess, especially if you have to leave in a hurry cuz Junior has a meltdown.
- If you don't have anything nice to say... Hopefully this doesn't conflict with #3. If you don't have anything nice to say to someone, why would you want to read about their life anyway? Back on track, if you don't have anything nice to say to or about someone, just stop. Don't say anything to them, don't tell stories about them, don't get sucked into whatever it is you don't like about them. Walk away and go live your life, positively, somewhere else.