Nice your freaking face off, man

Aside

In the news recently, we’ve heard much about the healthcare debate. And the protests. This last week, protestors reportedly shouted the “n” word at Representatives John Lewis (D-Ga.) and Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), spit upon Rep. Cleaver, and called Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) the “f” word.  The actions of these protestors has enraged many Americans. It is not uncommon for emotions and energy to build among large groups of people, causing actions to get out of hand–a sort of mob mentality. You see it at concerts, sports games, and yes, protests. And while our country protects our speech–even words offensive to others–using slurs rarely, if ever, achieves any utilitarian result.  As we move forward from these events (or ones like them ), here are a few things to keep in mind that I believe would drive our attitudes to something productive and positive:

1.    Pissing people off is a privilege we should treasure without taking advantage of it

We have the privilege in our country to voice our beliefs freely. And while the opinions of others may make our skin crawl, reacting against them in an equally negative way will not sway our opponent from their perspectives. Disagree, yes. State our opinion, yes. But retaliate? No. As hard as it may be, we should appreciate the ability to fervently disagree with one another–and we should try to have skin that is thick enough to withstand it. Maybe I watch too much Law & Order, but if we keep prosecuting people for their words (like the guy who was convicted of degrading his ex-mother-in-law’s dignity by calling her a few swear words–I swear it’s true), we could find our constitutional right to free speech slowly eroded by court rulings and reactive laws. Now, I’m NOT endorsing that type of hateful talk the protestors uttered. Trust me. I’m on the skin-crawling, sick-to-my-stomach side of this issue. But, I doubt calling them names make a difference. We must act constructively in this situation and realize that people say mean, awful things in charged situations and make something positive/productive out of it. Which brings me to the next point.

2. For each negative action, there is a WAY better positive reaction

This is an opportunity. For debate and for dialogue. And for change. It seems that in politics and in life, the newer trend is for people to get their voice heard by being the loudest (and possibly most obnoxious or extreme) voice in the room. And typically those voices don’t care about listening to others. They just wanna be heard and obeyed. Imagine how much farther we could get in our legislature, in our homes, in our jobs, and in our schools if we had a conversation. Disagree. Debate. But let’s talk. Get excited, be assertive. But listen. Let’s not yell or close ourselves off to new ideas or solutions. Don’t allow our emotions to overrun us so much that we forget how to give consideration, to concede on a few neutral points.  Even agree to disagree. Why not? Let’s talk about controversial issues at home, with our friends, with acquaintances. Let our children hear the healthy debate, the calm and spirited consideration of all the points. Then our children can learn how to make a well-educated decision and they can learn to be diplomatic rather than reactive.  And they can have a better future because of it. Discussing our views in this way is a sign of maturity, confidence and intelligence. And in acting as such, we are all role models to each other. Couldn’t we all use some positive examples? I know I could.

3.  Take the higher road, even if you’re mad and you’re afraid of heights

This is a time for many to be upset, enraged, wounded and offended. The words and actions of those individuals opened many wounds in our collective psyche. Now, or in the future, all of us will have a myriad of experiences as equally upsetting. We must remember: don’t retaliate. Educate. Don’t respond in kind. Acknowledge the pain, and then decide what positive actions will yield greater, more far-reaching results than that offensive experience. The legislators that were victims of the hateful speech this week did not press charges (as far as I know); they moved on. They’ve seen worse, heard worse. And they had more important things to do.

We can keep a watchful eye on intolerance and hate, but acting positively will do well to keep our society moving forward to a more tolerant, equal place.

And the best way to get back at the mean, nasty, prejudiced, racist, biased, sexist (and so on) people in our lives?  NICE their freaking faces off. Be so kind, so good, so fair and compassionate that it makes them ill!

So go! Be nice. Be positive. Live and let live. Respond to negativity constructively!  You’ll make ’em sick. You’ll make me proud. You’ll make a real difference.

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Bad motorcyclist! Bad!

How many of you have parked in, or blocked, a disabled parking space (or ramp) for convenience? Just a quick run inside–it won’t hurt anyone, right? Well, it might not hurt anyone, but it terribly insensitive.

Last night, I dropped off my fiance at work and saw that a motorcyclist had parked his or her bike in the loading zone between two disable parking spots, rendering the loading area completely useless (and therefore the spots very useless). The nerve! Perhaps the biker thought it was more considerate to take that space than a standard parking space (the latter of which can be annoying indeed, but it isn’t illegal or nearly as insensitive). That driver made a misguided decision. Imagine being a person in a wheel chair. Not only might you have to traverse snow-piled sidewalks in the winter (often rendering you home-bound in snowy conditions), but getting around in general can be difficult. So consider the frustration one might feel if they could not utilize the parking area designated for loading and unloading wheel chairs. Especially when the spots are there specifically for the disabled. Frustrating.

With this in mind, here is some information to know and some easy things you can do to be more considerate to disabled individuals:

  • Shovel the snow off your sidewalks after the snowplows have passed (so the person can get to the street).
  • Never ever park in a disabled spot (or loading area) if you do not have the correct certification.
  • Don’t assume a disabled person is incapable of doing things for themselves. If they need help, they will ask. You can offer assistance, but be sure to always ask first before acting.
  • Never pet a guide dog or feed them treats.
  • Guide animals are allowed in all public places including restaurants and hotels.
  • Don’t touch a person’s wheelchair or scooter without permission. To many, it is an extension of their body, making that action offensive or off-putting.
  • Don’t ask a person’s disability. That is incredibly inappropriate.
  • Don’t assume that a disability is visible from the exterior. Many illnesses, such as multiple sclerosis, may not be visibly in its early stages.
  • Hold doors, hold elevators, hit the disabled door-opener button, press the elevator floor, and many other courteous actions which you would do for anyone!
  • Support businesses run by the disabled. An example of this is Uptown Bill’s Small Mall in Iowa City, Iowa. Click on the link to read Bill’s story.
  • Volunteer for associations that assist the disabled.

 

© 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.

Driving Do’s and Don’ts Part 2

Here’s part 2 of my driving do’s and don’ts. These are general things one can do or avoid to be considerate drivers.

Tip #1:      Since when are you so important? Don’t cut people off–it’s rude, it induces road rage, and it is dangerous. Even if someone is dying or a baby is about to be born, it would be a bigger shame if you never made it there because you got in a wreck or you ran someone over because of your rushed driving.

Tip #2:      Remember what it’s like to be on foot. Stop before crosswalks and give pedestrians right of way. To the pedestrians: a little hustle or jog through a crosswalk when there is traffic waiting to go through is always considerate (& if it comes to a showdown, you’ll probably lose). Also, use the crosswalks rather than crossing the street just anywhere.

Tip #3:      To bicyclers: if you are in traffic, you are like a car. Running red lights is hazardous and wrong. If you are on the sidewalk, you should stop at every intersection. Once a biker zoomed out into a crosswalk going 15 mph when I had a green light and was turning right. It was impossible to see him coming, and I nearly ran him over. Not cool.

Tip #4:      Don’t text while driving. Ever. Period.

Tip #5:      Can’t the call wait? Ten years ago most of us did without cell phones just fine. My lord, how did we ever keep all that information inside until we got to a landline?! People that talk on their phone while driving often drive too slow, too fast, forget to signal, weave in traffic, run red lights, and so on.  Best not to do it or keep it to emergencies only. Besides, you miss a lot of interesting scenery when you are distracted or “double-tasking.”

Tip #6:      Emergency Alertness:  check mirrors and keep music at a reasonable volume so you can see and hear emergency vehicles.

Tip #7:      Shoulders are for breakdowns or for friends to lean on (tee hee!). Don’t pass on the shoulder or use it to get to an exit. That’s a surefire way to get side-swiped.

Tip #8:      Show some respect. In some communities, a funeral procession warrants people pulling over and stopping as it passes to show respect for the loved ones of the deceased (as in, “What I have going on is of no importance in the face of your loss and your grief.”). If this isn’t a tradition in your community, you should be aware of it (and hopefully honor it) in the places to which you travel.

 

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

Easy way to boost your day: form a smile and give it away!

I just returned from Los Angeles last week. First trip to California and it was great! We went to Rodeo Drive and Venice Beach among other places. Fully expecting to have the Pretty Woman experience on Rodeo Drive, I made sure to put my best face forward to test my possibly unfair assumption. To each person who greeted me, I turned to them with a truly genuine smile and asked them how they were that day. It was amazing how they warmed up to me. The young woman at the Coach store and I spoke for awhile about our respective origins (Tokyo and Iowa), two other women and I exchanged our delight in the beauty of a Jimmy Choo shoe. I wonder how many of those sales people are ignored every day even though they are expected to promote the fluffiest of natures to their clientele. I bet I may have cheered up at least one of their afternoons!

 

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

Practice what you ticket

I like to drive responsibly. Once upon a time, one of my jobs entailed a lot of driving in which safety was a huge priority. So, I don’t run red lights, I signal when I turn, I drive the speed limit, and I don’t pass in No Passing zones. Seems like the civil thing to do.

But what about police officers and state troopers? Nothing bothers me more than seeing police cars run red lights, speed, turn in a no-turn-on-red intersection, or forget their turn signals. It happens all the time, and every time the police car emergency lights are turned off!  What’s the deal? Aren’t police supposed to be models of proper law-abiding behavior? Aren’t they supposed to follow the very laws that they readily ticket us for? I think some lessons in manners and decency is in order.

 

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