So - I'm not nearly as nice as I thought

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to become a nicer man. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a mean man or an evil man. In fact, people who know me well like me. But I am somewhat reserved and in general prefer to be left alone.

Oddly, for some reason this makes strangers want to chat with me.

So this year I decided I would try to be nicer. And there I am, doing my usual Sunday morning Border’s routine. I pick several books and am about to go check out when my eye is caught by a book debunking the DaVinci Code (or maybe it is a book extoling the truths of the DaVinci Code, I dunno I never got a chance to see it.) An older man walks up to me and says “A book about prophesy, that must be interesting.” I look up and nod.

Then he says, “You know what else is interesting? Psychology. I’m looking for a book that explains Psychology For Dummies. Do you know where I can find something like that?” I helpfully point him to the information desk, but then I remember my resolution to be a nicer person. I also point out to him that there are computers where he can look up all kinds of things. “I’m not too good with computers.” he tells me.

“OK.” I say to myself. “What would a nice person do?” I actually have to ask myself this, because these things don’t come naturally to me. “A nice person would help him out wouldn’t he? And, even if he were leaving, he would take a few minutes wouldn’t he?” Even though these things don’t come naturally to me, I sound pretty certain as I tell myself this. “OK, I’ll do it.”

“Here, let me show you.” I say. I type Psychology for Dummies into the computer and sure enough, there is such a book and they have a copy in the store. I even walk the old gentleman over to the book section and tell him it should be found on one of these shelves. I then leave, feeling like I’ve gone the extra mile and been a little nicer.

So I’m telling this same story to my friend Matt. Matt says:
"Yeah, I was in Radio Shack yesterday and there was an Indian gentleman asking what he needed to do for his speakers. The guy behind the counter didn’t know, so I explained it to him. He said he wasn’t very handy with such things, so I said ‘I’ll tell you what, where do you live?’ "

You guessed it gang. Matt followed the man home and installed his speakers. The man’s wife gave him some nice Indian food while he did it and even wrote down a copy of her recipe for Matt’s wife.

And so, I guess, I went the extra inch, and Matt went the extra mile (or miles as it were.)

But give me some credit. Last year I would have probably just pointed the old guy towards the information desk and left.

A few years ago I was in the automotive department of a local Wal-Mart. An older lady was looking for an oil filter for her car and was having a tough time with the little electronic gizmo that helps with part numbers. I helped her find the filter she needed then assisted her with picking the right oil. While we were looking at the oil, she told me her husband had recently passed away and he always changed the oil in their car. He did not trust anyone else to do the job correctly. I asked her who was going to change her oil and she said she was. That afternoon I went to her house and changed the oil in her car. She pointed out a couple other minor problems with the car and I fixed them too. All I got in exchange was a piece of probably 3 day old cake. And I smiled as I choked it down. Told her to call me if she needed any oil changes in the future but I have never heard from her.

Hey Khadaji, I wouldn’t be too hard on yourself. It’s a rare person who would be that helpful. You and your friend Matt and racer72 all sound like the kind of people we should all be trying to be.


racer72 Don’t be too hard on her. If she is anything like myself, she probably thinks you did a nice thing and she doesn’t want to intrude on your kindness again. A lot of times people have been nice to me and offerred to meet again, but I am too shy to call and don’t know what to say if I did.

Earlier this spring, the alternator on my car finally gave up. The car was parked on the side of the road, waiting for me to go to the parts store, buy the alternator (and repair book) and come back and fix it. While the pictures in the book alluded to the ease in fixing the car, they were deceiving. I managed to loosen the bolts holding on the alternator, but couldn’t manage to do the rest.

A gentleman and his wife stopped by to offer assistance. They ended up helping me fix the car, and if it hadn’t been for the gentleman, then my car would not have been fixed. (And, no, he wasn’t even a mechanic–he worked in an office.) Afterwards, I sent them a thank you note, however, finances made it impossible for me to offer them money in appreciation.

This Christmas, I sent them a Christmas card with a small note, and they sent one back. Their Christmas card (with a brief note) meant more to me than any other I received this year. I actually got a little teary when I opened it.

I try to “be nice” when I can, and offer assistance. Og knows I’ve been on the receiving end of someone being nice often enough to truly appreciate the gesture.

Much like Khadaji I am a popular target for strangers wanting directions or service in large impersonal stores, even when other choices are around. Rather than point out someone’s error I will just help them if I can. In book shops I feel honour bound to join in to the conversations of other people if I know what they are looking for or have advise I can offer.

My son and I went touring over Christmas - New Years and he was amused by the amount of time I spend taking photos for tourists. If I see a group of tourists taking turns taking photos of the group I will get the camera and take a photo of all of them. Sometimes this involves taking far more care than they were taking - “You won’t be back in Australia for a while will you?” and often I have to kick the locals out of the good spots like at Bell’s Beach.

I really like the thought that, at The 12 Apostles, I took a really nice photo of 3 generations of an Indiana family. When they get home and have it developed they will (hopefully) be thrilled that I caught them unawares from an angle they hadn’t thought of.

:slight_smile: Thanks. I’m not that hard on myself actually. I just thought the chain of events were funny. Here I thought I had done a nice thing and THEN Matt shows me what it means to truly be nice. :slight_smile:

And I agree racer72, that was a very nice thing you did.

What more could you have done, Khadaji, read the book aloud to him? Paid for it?

You did a nice thing. Your buddy had an opportunity to do something more in-depth, but I don’t see how you could have done more without showing stalker-like tendencies. Maybe next time will be that chance for you. :slight_smile:

That’s a good resolution, Khadaji. I, too, typically just like to be left alone, but human nature being what it is, I often get labeled as a snob when really I’m just shy and introverted. I ought to try something similiar, or at least be more outgoing and sociable.

And I thought I was the only one who had to go through the mantra, “What would a _______________ person do?” When it doesn’t come naturally, you have to find methods to change your behavior.

I am forever approaching strangers puzzling over maps to help them find where they’re going. About 40% of the time they thank me and I help them; about 60% of the time they look incredibly frightend and stammer out a “that’s okay, thanks”.

That’s me too. I’m temporarily disabled and out of work at the moment and about a month and a half ago, I had a woman – my phlebotomist – call me and ask if I would accept some charity from her and her and her pastor and I agreed to it since I could use all the help I could get.

Three days later, they showed up with a free microwave, a fully cooked and vaccuum sealed turkey for me to eat at my discretion, and a box full of canned vegetables, etc. She also washed my dishes for me and the pastor swept some while talking to me about this, that, and the other.

It was very nice of them and I am really appreciative of their help but there is no way I am going to call them to ask for further help, even though they told me to. They’ve done enough and I’d feel like I’m using them if I asked for more.

I do wish I remember where I put their names and numbers though. I’d like to repay them when I’m finally able to get around again. If nothing else, I owe it to them to visit their church even though I’m an atheist.

Heh, I feel better now.

Khadaji, Call me a cynic and nothing against your friend Matt. But I wouldn’t let some stranger into my home that I didn’t know for any reason.

I was reading an ethics column in the newspaper last week. This guy wrote that while he is mildly handicapped and has a handicapped parking permit, he often tries not to use the handicapped parking spaces because he figures somebody with a more serious handicap might come along and need the space more than he did. So he would park at a regular spot if there was one close enough for him to walk. But recently he started questioning the ethics of his actions. He had begun worrying about the possibility that an elderly person who was non-handicapped might arrive after him in the parking lot. This person wouldn’t be able to use the handicapped spaces or the regular space that the handicapped man had taken. So the elderly man would end up having to park farther away than he would have if the first man had taken the handicapped space. The man wanted to know what the correct ethical answer was.

The columnist basically told him to lighten up.

You’re a nice man Khadji. I would probably have waved vaguely in the general direction and said, “I think they’re over there, behind anthropology” and congratulated myself on having done a good deed.

That’s because they know that your directions will lead them to be in your bed, on all fours, naked, butt cheeks spread and anus lubed. You can only pull that trick so many times.

I tried this morning, I really did. I was following a car into the city, and noticed that the rear right wheel was wobbling :eek: - I checked, it wasn’t the hubcap, it was the wheel.

So we got into heavier traffic, and I thought when we stop at the lights I’ll jump out and tell them the bad news - better that than it come flying off when they’re doing 70 or something. As it happened, they pulled into the right lane and I was coming up in the left to turn off. I slowed and wound down my window. The guy in the passenger seat pretty much freaked and they pulled away!

So, to the Karma managers out there - I tried…but I failed. But the thought was there and that should count for something!

As far as I’m concerned, it counts! :slight_smile: