Tag Archives: Be nice


When I was nineteen I dropped out of school, sold what little stuff I had and moved to California to start an illustrious career as a barista. I was broke, lonely and lost. I was also free. No friends. No family. No obligations—except getting to work at 6 AM each day to open the coffee shop.

I took my job seriously. It was all I really had going on. I liked being there among the other recent California transplants and art students. They were slightly off and so was I. Life was just as it should be at such a young age.

I made minimum wage but I really worked for tips. I was amazed at the simple equation—I was friendly to people and they’d toss money in the jar. There was one regular in particular that would stop in early, order a small coffee to go and leave me a dollar—roughly a 95% tip for handing him a paper cup and telling him to have a good day.

Memories of my life twenty years ago came flooding back this morning when I stopped by a small coffee stand on my way to work. The ladies running  things were welcoming but not over the top. I ordered a simple cup of coffee, paid with cash and without thinking twice tossed a dollar in the tip jar. Smiling as I walked away, I felt good about life, the process of growing up and the fact that I had a dollar to spare for a kid that’s probably broke, lost and lonely.

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Through a whole series of routine-altering events, I’ve been riding the bus a lot lately. As a Midwesterner born and raised, I still marvel at the convenience of public transportation. Even when it’s crowded, and people are farting, and some random person is scarfing down Cheetos at 8:15 AM, I’m still amazed that I can get from point A to point B without touching a steering wheel.

I’ve been on a schedule—which means I’m sharing my time with others who are on a schedule as well. Most choose not to acknowledge familiar faces or simply don’t pay any attention, but I always find some comfort in seeing a few people I recognize.

There’s one rider in particular that I always appreciate. She’s short, friendly and has Down syndrome. She always smiles my direction when I get on and, without fail, she always says “bless you” after someone sneezes. Not only have I always admired the gesture, I’m impressed with her diligence. It doesn’t matter who it is or how far away they are from where she’s sitting, she’s always on top of the situation.

It’s not every day that I encounter people who make me want to be a better person, but the “bless you” girl has made me stop and reconsider the boundaries of my silly urban bubble.

Happy Friday, friends. May your weekend be #blessed with more than meaningless hashtags.

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People don’t write much anymore. And I don’t blame them. It’s hard. But every so often a message shows up in my email that isn’t from LinkedIn that grabs my attention. Like this note from an old friend with a story about her son, Malcolm.

“Totally corny, but here goes: one of Malcolm’s favorite books is called the little blue truck. It’s really cute and has nice illustrations. The blue truck is vintage, of course. Anyway, he always beeps to say hi to the barnyard animals. The moral of the story is that you should be nice to everyone, because you never know when you’ll need a friend. It always makes me think of you.”

So, whether you’re focused on old trucks or being nice to people, I fully support you and your endeavor. Have a great Thursday. Beep!

Little Blue Truck

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