my best work

There’s an old joke that goes like this:
Q: What do a Hooker and a Bowler have in common?
A: They both do their best work in an alley.

Me? I do mine in a supermarket.

I have found so many opportunities in my life to do small but meaningful things to help others while engaging in the mundane act of food shopping. My superpower has always been the ability to notice small details and I have proven especially adept at picking out opportunities for small, random acts of humanness at the market. I don’t call it kindness because I believe that it is our duty and it is what makes us human.

Often, it is merely the observation of a small, elderly person or a vertically challenged young one that needs help lifting something or reaching an item on the top shelf. It happens frequently, the markets pile things so high these days. I see, as bright as day, a person in need of assistance and I am truly amazed at how many people DON’T and instead walk right by. Today, it happened to me twice so I felt compelled to blog about it.

I went to see my son today in MA. I was early so I stopped at the local market to grab him some supplies for his apartment. I was in the pet food aisle and a elderly man was trying to put a 24 lb bag of cat food into his carriage. I could see him struggling with it and I quickly went over and did it for him. He was very appreciative. I said,

“It’s nothing. Have a nice day.” As opportunities sometimes arrive, I was parked next to him and we left at the same time. I grabbed the same bag of cat food and put it in his trunk for him.

After helping my son I headed home and on the way stopped at a different market. As soon as I reached aisle 3 there was a vertically challenged woman staring at a box of rice pilaf. The shelf was partially empty and it was a good reach, even for me to get to it. I asked her,
“How many do you want?”
“Excuse me?”
“How many boxes of that Pilaf?”
“Oh, 3 please. Thank you.”
“Not a big deal, have a nice day.” It really wasn’t a big deal after all. It is my duty, my obligation, my pleasure.

About 3 months ago my youngest boy was up visiting me and we went to the local market. After grabbing a few items we jumped into the 14 items or less checkout lane. As soon as I got in line I knew that we made a mistake. There was some kind of holdup with the person in front of me. My son pointed out that other lanes were moving but I didn’t move. I had a feeling I knew what was going on. The person didn’t have enough money and the cashier was voiding out items. I knew what I was going to do. As she voided her last item I noticed that the cashier had piled the items behind her at the register. The woman had just gotten her receipt and was about to walk out and I asked her to hold on a moment.
“Would you please add those items to my order, bag them separately so that she can have them?”
The cashier smiled and immediately rang them up. The woman vehemently objected. I told her,
“It’s done. Don’t worry about it.”
She thanked me profusely, I waved to her and told her to have a nice night. I caught my son’s eye.
“Nice move, Dad.” As we walked out I told him,
“It’s nothing she wouldn’t have done for me.”
“Not really Dad, not everyone does stuff like that. You don’t even know if she has money. Maybe her card was bad and she’s rich.”
“It doesn’t matter kid, what matters is that at that moment she needed help. Remember the homeless guy at Walmart?”
He did. When he was very young we got caught at the begging section of our local Walmart. If you miss the light, the homeless with signs walk up to your car and ask for money. I gave a guy two dollars. My son asked me if it was a good idea. After all, he might be an impersonator (it was known to happen).I told him,
“Maybe he is. But he may also need that money. I may never know but it only cost me 2 dollars either way.”
I know he retained it, hence the attaboy.

I’m not looking for a cookie here, I’m hopeful that someone will be inspired to keep their eyes open for an opportunity to help someone. It doesn’t take a lot; buy a homeless guy a McMuffin and a hot coffee on a cold day, reach for something off of the top shelf, help carrying groceries, let someone go before you in line, just say hi to someone who looks like they need it. It’s so damn easy and could make someone’s day.

If you live your life like your funeral is tomorrow, have the goal of someone reflecting on your life and thinking “Now that was a nice person.” You may have been a Captain of Industry, a CEO or a Nobel Prize winner. But were you a good and nice person? To me, that is the nicest thing someone can say about you.

a day of rest

I’m so tired today. It’s that feeling that kidney patients have difficulty explaining to others. I don’t have a virus, I’ve been washing my hands. Yes, mom I’m taking my meds. I’m just washed out. I woke up as tired as I was when I went to bed last night. Cold, weak and the very thought of doing anything is dismissed as impossible. Carrying my laptop seems a Herculean task.

I am prone to feeling useless on days that I don’t accomplish much. I’m still transitioning to the stage where I openly accept that I’m not capable of doing as much in one day as I once was. I’m getting there. I spared myself the mental beat down today. I actually feel quite accomplished for a refreshing change.

I put in 3 very solid days at work this week. I am starting to feel comfortable in the office. My co-workers seem to have accepted me. I don’t think for a second that they didn’t like me, instead they probably were just curious of my sudden appearance, my lack of a learning curve, and why the owner and I are so comfortable with each other. In addition, I have found a niche. Without getting into detail I recognised a need and tackled it. My ability to dig into the source of issues and resolve them by putting new systems in place has been a contribution. That’s all I ever wanted, to be of use and contribute.

In addition to a productive day, I made a date for last night. An hour after I left work, I was getting a giant hug from a very beautiful, special lady. My youngest daughter. We went to our favorite diner, ordered off of the breakfast menu and just talked. It was so great to just sit, listen (even when I had no idea what she was talking about sometimes) to her prattle on excitedly about everything from boys to school to makeup. She seems to be doing well and I am so relieved.

To think that I once joked that if she were Native American her name would be “Alcohol-related-accident”. She wasn’t planned but today I cannot imagine my life without her. My other children would hate me to hear this but in July the only thing I could come up with for a reason to live was her. It’s not that I don’t love all of them to death, it’s about how much I mean to her. If I had done what I wanted to, it would have destroyed her. As I looked across the table, I wanted to thank her for saving my life.

As tired as I am today, I feel better about things. That things are getting better for everyone. As if my dad was again sitting with me over a beer telling me his favorite, comforting sentiment…

Things always seem to work out.

I didn’t really believe that when he was alive. Now I’m starting to. Tomorrow is a new day and I’ll get as much accomplished as I can. And feel good about it.

Peace my friends