Play Nice

Maybe it’s because it’s mid-September and still hotter than the asphalt outside of the gates of Hades. Maybe it’s because yesterday was the anniversary of something truly terrible. Maybe it’s because we are down to having mere hours left with our sweet pal Buckley-Dog.

Whatever it is, I’m feeling a bit compelled to do a little preaching…er, teaching. So gather ’round, folks, and let me tell you a few things about being nice.

ML over on I Miss You When I Blink recently posted a marvelous article on the mantra she sends with her children as they walk out the door each morning:

Be Brave. Be Wise. Be Kind.

Beautiful, no? Just because most of us are past fifth grade doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive to live this way on a daily basis. Being brave, wise, and kind are great guidelines for behavior for us all–all of the time–not just when it’s convenient.

Not just during Lent.

Not just at the Thanksgiving table.

Not just on the 11th of September.

Undoubtedly, I have a lot of work to do. I’m a chicken. And despite the plethora of gray hair on my head, I’m far from wise.

But I am kind, darn it. And I work really, really hard at being so.

Once you really focus on making kindness a priority in your life, you start to see how truly unkind the rest of the world can be. And then you find yourself being even kinder to make up for all the curmudgeons and misanthropes and jerks out there. There are certainly worse addictions than trying to be a good person.

[And with that, this warm and fuzzy, feel-good post is about to get down to business.]

Want to be a good person?

Take your grocery cart back. Or at least take it over to the cart carrel. Come on, people. Don’t be donkeys. Leaving it between two parked cars in the middle of the Publix parking lot is being a donkey. Someone has to come fetch that cart, you lazy scoundrel. Someone else’s car is going to get dinged when the cart takes off rolling once you pull away, blazing back to your uber-important life. Take the extra minute and put it back. Please.



Not even close.

Respect funeral processions. If you can’t pull over to the side of the road when a funeral procession passes (I’m talking on two-lane roads, not I-75; let’s not split hairs here, folks), at least give it the right of way. Aside from being in active labor or otherwise en route to the hospital, you are not in that big of a hurry. Watching a hearse and a long line of cars filled with mourners roll by is one heck of a memento mori. One day, that procession will be yours. [I actually did a little research on this one after worrying it was solely a Southern thing and that my non-Southern friends were going to insist I catch the next pick-up truck back to the onion farm. Try again. There are actually laws about this–> Bam! Funeral processions have the right-of-way.]

Don’t litter. Seriously? You’d think we’d be well past this by now, but then I’m constantly seeing things like this:

and this:

What, you’re too neat and clean to keep that trash in your car, so you chuck it out the window? Talk about being a donkey.

Please, unless you have one of these…

photo credit: NCDOT

don’t park in one of these:

photo credit: Love That Max

Really, folks?

Say “please” and “thank you.” Especially when ordering food. Nothing makes me cringe more than seeing some knucklehead look at the menu and grunt, “Let me have the fried chicken,” unless it’s a different knucklehead grunting at a different server, “gimme the fried chicken.” Seriously? You’re taking that “order” thing literally, huh? Look your server in the eyes, and politely ask him or her for your food. Please. I don’t care if you’re at the White House or the Waffle House. Use your manners.

Thank people. If someone goes to the trouble of doing something for you, thank him. If someone brings you a gift, thank her. If someone is doing something nice, thank that person. And while I’m a huge fan of the handwritten thank you note, I realize that there are a few times when that’s just not feasible–like when a total stranger lets you merge ahead of him in traffic. Give him a wave and a smile. Or even a nod. Just acknowledge it. That policeman directing traffic outside of the school at 3pm on August 30 is melting in that solid black uniform. Give him a shout out. Those folks painting your house or fixing something for you? Offer them a bottle of water. That young man with special needs who bags your groceries? Read the name on his name tag and use it when you thank him. Being thankful is not just an activity for the month of November. Come on, y’all:  Just be nice.

You know what? All of these things are actually small components of my major grievance with this world–being inconsiderate. Yesterday, September 11th, we all walked upright and were genuinely considerate to everyone around us. We hugged more, said “thank you” more, chatted more. We were nicer. We brought happiness with us. We were good.

Today, September 12th, we’re back to business as usual. We’re honking horns and slamming doors and abandoning carts. We’re not good. And that’s not cool.

Please think about it–whatever it is–before you do it. Be considerate; it’s the freaking Golden Rule, for crying out loud. (Mankind really shouldn’t need a tutorial on how to do this, but lo and behold, there’s one out there. Thanks for that, Wikihow.)

Now go out there and be considerate, gentle reader, today and every day. Make the world a better place.

I know you can do it.