Off to Watch Hill

A much much less hilly and tree-free version of my childhood country roads...(Click to link to image source: Cornbread blog)

My husband and I just returned from a mini-vacation to Connecticut, during which we ventured into the southwestern-most corner of Rhode Island to a spot called Watch Hill. I just have to say how very nice and considerate the drivers in that general area of RI were. More than once in the 1 or 2 hours we were there, RI drivers would pause in traffic to let us turn or pass through–even though they had the right of way!! It was wonderful! I don’t know if this is regular driving culture there, but it definitely didn’t happen in the other areas of New England that we explored this week. Though I will say, everyone was very friendly everywhere we went.

It reminded me of the country roads on which I grew up, and how passing another car on the gravel roads was so seldom that we always waved at each other when it happened. I wonder, what are the cool things that people in your community do that add a little “happy” into your day? Please share!

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Amicable Allegory #8: The right place at the right time

Have you ever had the feeling that your day worked out  exactly how it did  for a very particular reason? Like, when you forgot your coffee one morning, and found your stove burner still turned on when you went in to retrieve your drink? I like to think these are little ways God (or angels or spirits or the flying spaghetti monster) looks out for us, keeps us safe.

Well, I think I just had another one of those moments. My husband and I drove into NYC for the first time yesterday. Usually we take the train, but we have to go to Brooklyn in a few weeks by car, and wanted to do a “dry run” of the journey. Normally I would have tuckered out halfway into the drive (cars make me sleepy), but for some reason, I drove the first few hours without a problem.  We pulled into a rest-area to trade-off driving and fuel up. Even though we had to stop at the food plaza, I drove right past it to the fuel pumps without thinking. There was no lanes to return to the plaza, so while Jake pumped the gas, I ran in and used the ladies room, and when I returned, Jake ran in to use the men’s room. As I sat there waiting for him to come back, an older woman (I’m guessing late 60’s or so) asked me “Is there an attendant around? Do you think they check tire pressure here?” I told her I doubted it, but up ahead there was an air pump, so she could fill up her tires there. Dismayed, she said, “I have no idea how to do it. I just have a light in my car that says the tire pressure is low.” Without hesitation, I replied, “Well, when my husband gets back to the car, we can help you with the tires. We have a tire pressure gauge.” She was elated and very grateful, and I was equally happy we were there to help. When Jake returned, he quickly filled her tires (they all needed 10 pounds of pressure–good thing she stopped) and I chatted with her while we waited. She was impressed us “young people” were so helpful, and I said, “Oh, that’s just how I was raised,” and told her about the Be Nice. project. She asked for my contact information, so I gave her a pamphlet and postcard along with my information. She took me into her arms with a warm, joy-filled hug, and then took Jake’s hand and pressed something into it, thanking us heartedly. We told her no thanks was necessary–we were just happy to be of service, but she insisted we take what she gave us, no arguments allowed. It was a twenty dollar bill.

Jake and I were blown away by her enormous generosity and gratitude. She had said to us, “Not many people would have helped me, or even paid attention.”  And I thought, “Some people might have even taken advantage of the situation by swindling her or demanding money.” Jake and I were simply happy to help, without a single thought of a reward. The twenty dollars was an unexpected ( and unnecessary) bonus, and it got me thinking. [I’m not meaning this impending thought-stream in any negative way toward our wonderful new friend on the thruway. It just made me wonder….] Wasn’t there a time when people used to help others in need without expecting anything in return? I swear it was like that when I was a kid. Often a proper show of gratitude was a warm smile, a hug or a hand shake, an invitation to dinner, or a thank you note. But today, it seems like repayment or rewards are expected, and the standard currency for gratitude is money. I wonder how that came to be? Is an “I’ll do something, but not for nothing” mentality prevailing in our culture? (This mentality sounds a lot like the attitude, “I’ll give them a wedding gift, but only because they invited me to their party and they’re feeding me.”) Or, is the good feeling of doing what’s right not enough for some people any more?  There was certainly a time when a monetary show of thanks was unnecessary, possibly even offensive. But nowadays, there are people who feel resentment when they are not given “proper”, equivalent, or reciprocal thanks (i.e., a similarly priced gift, an invitation to an equally lavish event, or a monetary reward). What changed?

There are millions of people in the world who do give for the joy of giving, who help strangers because they like to do it. But what saddens me is that there are a large number of folks who give, but with an agenda or an expectation of similar repayment. When did we start keeping track of who-gave-what’s and who-owes-who? And can we find a way to free ourselves from that thinking? Because it costed me nothing but a little bit of time to help that fantastic woman, and it felt so great to know that God put me in just the right place to be able to do it. For me, that was worth more than anything.

A little stool-full of courtesy

First, I apologize for not posting anything in so long!  It has been… well… a difficult August. BUT! It is over over over. So, on with the good stuff!

I was perusing my personal Facebook account today, and got a real kick at what one of my friends posted. It seems that her coworkers had forgotten a very important part of restroom etiquette, and so someone (not she) took it upon themselves to educate the women of the office. Then my friend posted it to share with all of us. (I have no clue who wrote this little blurb, so I apologize for the lack of recognition…)  Without further ado:

What is a Courtesy Flush?
A courtesy flush is meant to be just that, a courtesy for others. If you know ahead of time you are about to pay the price for last night’s over-indulgences, you may want to consider flushing the toilet several times during your visit in order to minimize unpleasant odors. The common belief is that most unpleasant odors are generated between delivery and reception, if you get my drift. This type of courtesy flush is supposed to take the offenders out of the game as soon as possible, thus reducing the total exposure time for others.

Now ladies I know some of us don’t want to admit that yes, girls poo too. But come on. You do it. And it stinks. Admit, and move on. (Me and my gal pals on the other hand can’t stop talking about our bodily functions. It’s a source of daily humor in our conversations!!!)

And to you water conservationists, remember: your poo might not smell that bad to you, but that bean burrito from last night has a funny way of making other people want to ralph. So save them the trauma and spend the extra water. You’re clever–you’ll find other ways to make up for the extravagance.

 

© Be Nice. Creator and Be Nice.(somethingsonice.wordpress.com), 2008-2009.

Dressing for the occassion

I’m getting married this year to a pretty terrific guy. And the wedding is not your typical white wedding: no white dress, no penguin suit, no bridal party, no church, no diamond ring, no white cake… you get the idea. But when my beloved said he wanted to wear a Tuxedo T-Shirt to our nuptials, I had to say, “Oh, hell no.”

There’s a lot of debate between him and I about dressing up for occasions.  Should someone wear clothes they would otherwise not even have in their closet if they feel like they must, out of respect?  I say yes. He says… NO!  It’s a tricky situation. He wants to be himself. He doesn’t wear dress pants and dress shoes, ties or tucked-in shirts.  And he has more respect for other people (truly) than some others who make the gesture of respect in appearance but don’t act with the same respect through their words and actions. And of course there is the question, what is it going to hurt to put on a dress outfit to show that person you care about their important day or event?  His question is, how is it really hurting that person to let their friend/colleague be himself?

So the question is, do you conform to society’s rules–even if it makes your stomach turn–to show respect?  Or do you be yourself through and through and be respectful in all the other ways that seem to matter the most?

 

© Be Nice. Creator and Be Nice.(somethingsonice.wordpress.com), 2009.

The do’s and don’ts of being a customer

I have worked in customer service for a number of years. When we are the customer, consideration for the person behind the counter is important. So here are some do’s and don’ts of being a customer:

DON’T

  1. …talk on your cell phone or text
  2. …act as though the person behind the counter doesn’t exist
  3. …pay with pennies or coins
  4. …leave refrigeratable items in your basket that is stowed away where the cashier won’t fine it until much later
  5. …get angry with the cashier if you don’t have cash, or your card doesn’t work
  6. …get testy with the cashier if the price rang up for the wrong amount (they don’t enter the bar codes and prices, they just ring up the groceries)
  7. …change your mind half way through to paper after they’ve bagged your things in plastic
  8. …present your coupons after they’ve hit the total button
  9. …knock things over in the aisle and not pick them up
  10. …walk away as they ring things up to look at “one last thing”

DO:

  1. …say “hello” or some other friendly greeting
  2. …smile
  3. …give them coupons up front
  4. …give them your cloth bags right away
  5. …be sure you are following the 10 items or less rule if you are in that lane
  6. …give them the items that you change your mind on, rather than leaving them on a shelf or in a cart to go bad (if refrigerated)
  7. …let them know something on their shelf is expired
  8. …tell them if a price is wrong
  9. …make chit-chat (if you are a chitty-chatty type of person)
  10. …have your payment method ready
  11. …mind your children
  12. …talk with your counter-part after you have acknowledged the cashier
  13. …ask for a receipt if one isn’t given without frustration–in many small shops, they give receipts if asked rather than as an automatic action
  14. …tell their supervisor they were especially helpful if they were
  15. …thank them for their assistance

I like to imagine that being friendly to those who provide service might make that person’s day better, and it might promote more positive interactions with future customers. It’s worth the effort no matter the outcome!

 

© Be Nice. Creator and Be Nice. (somethingsonice.wordpress.com), 2008-2009.

Little Tid-bits

I always feel extra special when someone remembers something about me I didn’t expect. It’s a wonderful way to connect with someone in a small, but sincere, way.

Remember little details about people and then followup on them later. This applies to everyone, from family to close friends, to acquaintances.  If my friend tells me about some concerns she has for her class, I try to ask about it later. Or if the same post office worker waits on me again, I might ask how his daughter is doing in art school.

Remembering things about people shows your interest in them and instantly bridges connections between both of you. It can transform mundane consumer interactions, it can brighten a day, it can overcome a previous negative interaction. Recalling the name of an acquaintance, the professional interests of a colleague’s partner, or the weekend goings-on of a friend or family member is a simple way to let someone know they are important to you–and worth remembering!

 

© Be Nice. Creator and Be Nice. (somethingsonice.wordpress.com), 2008-2009.

And in honor of Wiping the Seatie…

So I was telling this friend of mine the other day about toilet seats and the lack of wiping going around, and she said the main perpetuaters were “hover girls”. And I have to say I love this phrase and I have to agree. So here is my thought:

Hover girls are afraid of germs on the seat, so they are afraid of sitting on the seat. What germs are they afraid of? The pee speckles that get there from the bad aiming and the girls that hover! AKA: them.

So, really, these hover girls are the reason for their problem! Because if they would stop peeing all over the seat, perhaps they wouldn’t be so freaked out to sit on it! And I’m not saying that a good layer of toilet paper isn’t in order when we sit on the seat (because it is: urine is sterile, skin is not), but I am saying, “Jeez! The irony!”  Hover girls are self-perpetuating hypochondriacs!!!!\

 

© Be Nice. Creator and Be Nice. (somethingsonice.wordpress.com), 2008-2009.