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Unsung Heroes

Thursday, December 08, 2011

When you own the business you work Christmas Eve, especially when you are a “mom and pop.” It’s not really fair to your twenty something’s. Even though the sign screams “No Vacancy” there is always the random stranger who came home from college at the last moment to surprise the family on Christmas morning or the traveler who ran out of steam half way through their journey. It’s hard to say no. But where would you put them, on the roof? Besides, this business is yours. Maybe it only has ten rooms and there isn’t a buffet breakfast served in the morning, but every inch of it is yours. You aren’t large enough to give a Christmas bonus and you barely have enough money to pay for your own benefits so you let them have Christmas Eve and Christmas day off with pay. You do it, your dad did it and his dad before him did it. It’s just the way things are. It’s your obligation.

So you sit on the same stool as those who came before you and you work through a Sudoku book. At midnight you’ll turn off the lights, lock the door and ease yourself on to the cot in your office. All your guests are tucked in; everyone has soap and towels for the morning. “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night…”

The headlights blind you for a second as they glance off the wet window pane. A kid gets out of the car. You are half way to the front door mouthing “no room available.” His shoulders slump a bit, he stomps the rain off of him and asks if you have a cup of water. It’s for his wife. They are headed home to see his mom and she can’t go much further without a break. She’s tired and aches all over. She wanted to stretch her legs a bit and maybe get something to drink. By the way, you don’t happen to have a room do you. He’ll pay double if you could see your way clear.

This is the part you hate. As you fill a Styrofoam cup with water you politely but firmly tell him no, you sure don’t. As you ease him towards the door you watch his wife stretch her back and then lean against the car. You mutter a profanity under your breath and tell him to bring her inside for a bit. She’s pale, tired and you think of your wife and two daughters and………… The cot in the back is not much. It sags in the middle and could use more than a heavy dose of Febreeze. There is a look of relief in her eyes as she lies down. Her husband sits next to her and you can hear them talking through the curtain.

The baby is born around 2:30 that morning. Mrs. Trotter in room 7 calls the front desk to complain about the racket and the flashing lights when the EMT’s arrive. A few other curious guests poke their heads through the door and one cracks wise; “This is just like the first Christmas.” You sigh and put on a pot of coffee. It’s going to be a long day.

Unsung heroes are unsung for a reason. They are never on page one, they never receive an achievement award, they are largely forgotten. Amidst the trophies and mounds of recognition they become the people who make our successes possible.

We rarely know they are there and they never understand what the big deal is anyway.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GIRANIMAL 12/12/2011 8:59PM

    Beautifully written, my friend!

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MYOWNHERO 12/10/2011 9:07AM

    You just gave me chills. Seriously.

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CARTOONB 12/9/2011 11:44PM

    Yep

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NASFKAB 12/9/2011 8:24AM

  AWESOME GREAT

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CLOVER2 12/8/2011 3:35PM

    A wonderful reminder, wow.
emoticon emoticon

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LYNMEINDERS 12/8/2011 3:18PM

    Briliant blog John....
So so true as well....

Its nice to fade into the =background...

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HDHAWK 12/8/2011 12:41PM

    I have some in my own family. This is the first year in the last 4 that I'll have my hubby home on Christmas (firefighter), but my son in law has to work (state patrol officer), and my daughter has the day off (nurse). They all have crazy schedules but we just work around them. It doesn't matter what day we celebrate as long as we get to spend time together.

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GOOFIERNU 12/8/2011 11:08AM

    emoticon
emoticon

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BLACKROSE_222 12/8/2011 10:24AM

    What a reminder. Thanks again.

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PGNBRI 12/8/2011 10:18AM

    emoticon

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MORTICIAADDAMS 12/8/2011 9:15AM

    There is one born every day. I've known hundreds of them and they make the world a better place to live in.

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EUPHRATES 12/8/2011 8:50AM

    emoticon

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Wondering What It Takes: A Reflection

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

I used to wonder how they did it. Those guys in the tailored suites and ladies in little black dresses standing at the buffet table laughing, talking and grazing on food that isn’t even in the remote vicinity of being healthy. I used to think it was in their genes. They were predisposed to being thin and there was a huge hormone floating inside their bodies that gobbled up anything that appeared to be fattening. They were lucky I was not. They were favored, I was not.

So I studied them. I studied them at length and I came to realize that they possessed one absolute quality I did not. They had complete confidence in their ability to control their lives and their destiny. They knew who they were, and what they were capable of doing. They could stand relaxed and comfortable at the buffet table, scarf down a few fattening treats, and walk away to find interests more intriguing and exciting. I don’t believe they are perfect. I simply believe thy tried and failed, tried again and never quit. The experience steeled them.

The external manifestation of health, wealth, success, go ahead and pick one that’s appropriate, is simply the total sum of you and I value ourselves, our lives and our place in this world. I sometimes think the scale doesn’t move because deep down inside I don’t want it to move. Fat and happy as they say, safe, not having to take risks or chances. Scary stuff.

It’s easier to be jealous, envious and spiteful of the folks who slide into size zero clothing without effort, it’s much more difficult to emulate them. It’s hard to admit that even when we proclaim equality with all the world deep inside we don’t really believe it. We just hope it happens.

Suppose we stopped dieting? Oh I know the mantra here is that we are not on a diet. Suppose we just walled off all our nasty, silly eating habits and stopped keeping track of them? Instead of tracking calories and water intake we kept track of most amazing things we did each day and that we shot for a high number rather than a low number? Suppose we quit competing with everyone to see how fast or far we could run, swim or cycle and instead focused on tracking activity as it concerned giving or helping others? We might not have time to eat and when we did we’d gravitate towards food that gave us the energy to be that evolving person we wanted to be. Not a lot of rules, just a concentration on locating our true self. Every night before we went to sleep we’d close our eyes and weigh our self worth and find its getting heavier!!!

Impossible you say. Really? Ask the size zero at the buffet table.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

RR1_RR1 12/8/2011 12:57PM

    Really insightful! Enjoyed reading this.

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CIVIAV 12/8/2011 7:29AM

    By jove, I think he has something here!

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NASFKAB 12/8/2011 3:51AM

  HAVE TO CONTROL INESELF

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CARTOONB 12/7/2011 10:30PM

    Hmmmm....dangerously liberal communistic thoughts there... emoticon

Let's try...

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HDHAWK 12/7/2011 6:03PM

    Yes! It's those of us who can't walk away when presented with a buffet table that will continue to struggle. I'm not sure why the sight of a buffet table or the like, makes me think it's the last meal I'll ever have.

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LYNMEINDERS 12/7/2011 3:53PM

    John.....thats just brilliant....totally superb and so totally worth our thinking about it .....

Joyce Meyer said once that people wanted what she had and wanted to be where she was....
her answer to them was....."Are you prepared to do what i had to do to get to where I am"....
I find that statement so tru and I see it coupleling with what you have written.....are we prapared to do what size 0 people do to stay/get size 0....

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MORTICIAADDAMS 12/7/2011 3:28PM

    I'm far from a size zero but I don't compete with others nor compare myself to them. My goal is to be the best I can be and to do my best every day. I don't always achieve it but I'm the only one that can make it happen.

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BLACKROSE_222 12/7/2011 12:55PM

    Great thoughts today John. We have all been there, judging the same people - but we need to know that we are all individuals.

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MUSTANG_SALLY2 12/7/2011 10:17AM

    This sounds a bit like what Geneen Roth advocates in her books. I haven't been brave enough to try it but it intrigues me. Sometimes, I just want to be me and stop trying to be the other me, the thin one. Why does it have to be 2 different mes? Ugh.

Great blog.

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WORKINGSTIFF 12/7/2011 9:42AM

    Ok, playing devil's advocate here.

"They had complete confidence in their ability to control their lives and their destiny." I'd have to disagree somewhat. Nobody has control of their lives and destiny. My sister's husband walked out. Told her that he was "done." That wasn't the destiny she had in her mind. She was living the "'til death do you part" life. What she IS in control of is how she DEALS with the hand she's been dealt.

And therein lies the difference. We are not always in control of what happens to us, but rather, we are always in contol of how we handle what happens to us.

"They knew who they were, and what they were capable of doing." This I'll agree with. Knowing who you are, truly, is one of the hardest yet most important aspects of life. Many people are in absolute denial of who they are. Until we accept who we are, we cannot change. You can't change what you don't know.

None of us should be comparing ourselves to others. When I look at a skinny person, I think to myself, "Are they that way through healthy habits or unhealthy ones (like vomitting up all the food they eat)?" I have no way of knowing, thus, I'm not envious of them.

And maybe you are telling yourself something that you need to do for yourself. "Suppose we just walled off all our nasty, silly eating habits and stopped keeping track of them? Instead of tracking calories and water intake we kept track of most amazing things we did each day and that we shot for a high number rather than a low number?"

Maybe this is what you want to do deep down inside, but are afraid to step off that boat and see if you can walk on faith in your own ability, so to speak. It's scary. I know that firsthand. It gets tiresome "keeping track" all the time. Sometimes we just want to LIVE. Just BE.

Maybe you're telling yourself to give it a shot. Maybe?

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ANGEL636 12/7/2011 9:12AM

    Sounds easy enough, I will give it a try!
Have been working on the positive thinking & being thankful thing.
Thanks for that. emoticon

Comment edited on: 12/7/2011 9:15:16 AM

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The Gift of Time

Saturday, December 03, 2011

It’s early on a Saturday morning. It’s cold and in many ways I’d rather be on the couch with a cup of green tea watching CNN. I’m not. I am dressed, showered and ready to go. You see this morning along with the local YMCA, Joan and I, as Owensboro Noon Optimists are hosting a Breakfast with Santa, complete with picture taking, face painting and sanitary wipes so Santa’s new suit doesn’t need cleaning later next week.

Some of you are golfing today, some shopping, some hiking or running. We are all doing what we need to do to stay active and healthy. My kids are grown, my granddaughter is two hundred miles away and I don’t “have” to do this. We want to. For many of the kids, this will be Christmas. There won’t be many presents under the tree for them. We figured, along with two moderately reluctant daughters, that we could give up a Saturday morning to make life happier for someone else. There isn’t a price tag on a wide eyed smile and I also have decided there is no tangible present in this world that has the same value these raucous, happy kids have in my heart.

I’m not doing this to feel better about myself and the world around me. I am doing it because when the day is done, even if it’s infinitesimal, I’ll be a much better person because I gave something I have to give and that’s my time.

So many of you do the same.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MORTICIAADDAMS 12/6/2011 4:43PM

    Sounds like a great cause. Every child should know the magic of Christmas.

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MARCYNA 12/5/2011 6:22AM

    No words, how awesome of you!!!!
Lots of love,
marcyna

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LYNMEINDERS 12/3/2011 8:59PM

    Aswesome....
I truly trust that you and joan enjoyed your time today and I know God will bless you richly for it....
He always does....

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CARTOONB 12/3/2011 6:47PM

    Hope you had a great day and made some kids happy.

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RR1_RR1 12/3/2011 1:53PM

    Very nice of you to do that. Have a great day, thanks for the positive message emoticon

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SPEEDY143 12/3/2011 1:25PM

    What you do today is the reason for the season emoticon emoticon

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KATHRYN1955 12/3/2011 8:33AM

    Yes, that is the one thing that all of us are able to give, the gift of time. I always remember my grandmother, who even when she was in the nursing home, was always the one who everyone could depend on to lend a sympathetic ear. Although not able to be physically active, she had a wonderful empathetic manner.
It is a real gift to just be able to take the time to truly listen to another and to be totally present.
Have fun with Santa!!
Kathy
emoticon emoticon emoticon

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HDHAWK 12/3/2011 8:21AM

    Good for you John! The kids will love it and the feeling you will get is priceless.

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TRISTAROSE 12/3/2011 8:21AM

    I wish I could go with you ... what a wonderful thing to do!

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CIVIAV 12/3/2011 8:10AM

    emoticon

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NASFKAB 12/3/2011 8:08AM

  HOW WONDERFUL OF YOU

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WALKNLOVE 12/3/2011 7:29AM

    You give so much more of yourself than just time! Just sayin! You are a pretty special person! God has blessed both you & Joan & you are sharing those blessings! It truly is better to give than to receive!Have a wonderful time!

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JUSTLYLE 12/3/2011 7:19AM

    Good for you John and your B H, always great to do for others.

Skeeter emoticon

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A Cautionary Tale

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

This is a cautionary tale…………….

I’d be stating the obvious if I told you the job market was tight. In a phrase it’s a “buyers’ market.” Hundreds, sometimes thousands of people are competing for a few positions. The marvels of job posting web sites have narrowed the world to what sociologist Marshall McLuhan called a “global village.” No longer are employers bound by the restrictions of time and space. The click of a mouse button and an active Skype account can set up interviews all over the world for little or no cost. If you should be fortunate to become a finalist for one of these coveted positions the field of vision narrows. Do you have a Facebook account? Better peruse it carefully for pictures you’ve been tagged in. Be sure they aren’t something that would be scaring a potential employer away. A few days ago I reluctantly deleted a friend from my Facebook account because they punctuated a political rant with lots of inappropriate language. I wonder what a potential client might have thought had they read that posting.

But I digress

My phone rang one day last week and on the other end was a human resource intern who had been given the chore of checking references on three finalists for a management position with his company. One of the finalists had used me as a reference. You’d think I’d be flattered. Actually, I was alarmed. The candidate had never gotten permission to use me as a reference.

Let’s pause here for a moment and clear up a misconception. When validating employment information on a former employee, I am bound by some restrictions. I have to stick to what’s factual – Date of hire, date of separation, attendance, things like that. The scope is very narrow. This creates limited liability for the company providing the information. It’s all factual and can’t be disputed. When I was an HR Director I had a laminated sheet for myself and my staff that was read back verbatim any time employment was being verified. If, however, you cite me as a reference it means you are telling someone I will attest to your character, your abilities and other subjective information. I am bound very loosely by what I say and the scope of the questions a reference is asked are very wide.

You might understand why I was taken by surprise. I had three options and two of them were negative. The first was to give a less than glowing reference, which is what would have happened if I’d continued the call. The second was to politely decline to be used as a reference. I took the second option. The third would have been to give a false reference and I patently refuse to do anything like that. The person on the other end of the phone didn’t quite know what to say and I suspect the person who’d used me as a reference without my knowledge was removed from consideration for the position.

Be sure you “Dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s” when you are conducting a job search. In over thirty years of experience I have found it’s rarely lack of qualifications or education that disqualify someone from a job it is usually the intangibles, the seemingly small things that cause an employer to look elsewhere. As I said earlier, it’s a buyers’ market. Many of you have children just entering the workforce. Many have student loans to pay back and are looking for a solid position where they can use their education and develop new skills. The people you use as references are giving a potential employer insight into who you are in the workplace. It can make or break an excellent opportunity.

I stopped giving references about twenty years ago. One of the company’s vendors, who I’d gotten to know well, asked me if she could use me as a reference. A recruiter called me and launched into a list of question. One of the final questions was “On a scale of one to ten, evaluate the candidate’s appearance.” I paused for a moment. The recruiter asked me if there was an issue about the candidate’s appearance. I asked what he meant by the question. He wanted to know what I thought about “how she looked.” (This was starting to get creepy.) I told him she was well groomed, dressed appropriately for the work place, etc. He wanted to know if I “found her visually appealing.” I ended the conversation and called the vendor, told her about the conversation and what I’d said. As it turned out she had just sent a letter to the company asking them to remove her name from consideration, so all’s well that ends well.

Sometimes you never find out the “real reasons.” That’s why this is a cautionary tale…….


  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MORTICIAADDAMS 12/6/2011 4:47PM

    There are very few people I would want to give a reference for.

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LPERKINS75 12/4/2011 9:11PM

    Thank you for the advice!

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2BE-MYBEST 12/2/2011 11:16PM

  emoticon

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LYNMEINDERS 12/1/2011 5:32AM

    A very wise word....
i quite often get put down as a referee for a lot of my students however they always let me know that have put me forward and what the job is and who the company is....
for that i am grateful and don't usually have a problem with that however i thank you for your caution.....

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MARCYNA 12/1/2011 5:20AM

    WoW..thanks again for giving reference for my Agent position....how flattering!!
Anyway I am helping a pair of friends to find a job and I gave reference for one of them at my gym. Hopefully it'll work out right!!!

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NASFKAB 12/1/2011 4:48AM

  TRUE

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GEEMAWEST 11/30/2011 11:06PM

    OMG!

Remember a short while ago when I told you that we (DH and I) were having issues with one of our daughters? It was exactly this that caused the problem. DH had written her an email suggesting that she reconsider some of the things on her Facebook account since she was going to law school and future employers look at that kind of thing. There was nothing too risque, but some reference to partying and using some foul language.

She totally went off of him and the relationship has been very strained since then.

People don't realize that even if they have their FB set to private there will always be people that have the tools to get in.

Thanks for a great blog, John.

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LUVMYK9S 11/30/2011 1:31PM

    Although thankfully I am not currently in the job market, I have always obtained prior permission before listing anyone as a reference. This is how I was brought up, I guess I'm old school, but I would never use anyone's contact information without their prior permission.

And unfortunately, some people are still biased based on someone's appearance alone.

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CMBELISLE 11/30/2011 12:35PM

    Very interesting. I'm extremely careful what I put on FB and who I friend on FB as well. My account is set to private, so as far as I know, no one can see anything on my page beyond my name. That is as it should be. LinkedIn can also be a little weird. I have had 3 people try to friend me there that I've no clue who they are - never met them in my life, so I've ignored the request. Just weird.

As for references, if someone asked me the question you were asked about the young lady, I would probably have had the same reaction you did. I think your response and your notification was great!

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BLACKROSE_222 11/30/2011 12:19PM

    Hmmm... very interesting spin and thanks so much for sharing, John.

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RR1_RR1 11/30/2011 12:05PM

    Interesting. One of my reps that got me my job, just friended me on facebook. I thought- thats kind of annoying since its a personal thing, but didnt want to be rude so friended her. My linked in is the business one. Now Im thinking I may block, but she may find out and pretty soon I may need her! Man, face book never cease to be negative!

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Small Acts of Kindness Often Mean The Most

Monday, November 28, 2011

When Joan goes into work early on a Monday I’ll always shoot over to McDonalds and get her a cup of coffee after I drop her off. This morning the line was long, even for a Monday. People were impatient. Maybe it was the realization that for some a long holiday weekend was over or maybe the cold and the rain dampened some spirits. The hugged each other’s bumpers hoping that their actions would make the line move quicker. This McDonalds sits in the middle of a strip mall. There are at least three ways you can approach the drive thru line. As I waited my turn I saw a truck about ten cars ahead trying to slip into the line. No one would allow it. They moved closer to each other sending the alleged interloper a strong message: “You aren’t cutting in front of me!!!”

Call it coincidence, call it providence, call it great fodder for a blog, but just a few minutes earlier I had read a short inspirational piece that prayed this question. “Would you invite all the people you went to church with to your home for dinner?” It went on to talk about how we sit in Church or espouse a certain doctrine and when we have a chance to put it into practice we seem to have forgotten where we put that wonderful, glowing belief. I have to confess I am guilty of feeling this way, more often then I’d like to. So here was my chance to do so!!

I honked the horn and waved and allowed the alleged interloper to slide into line in front of me. Thank goodness I was in a car and it was raining or based on the sound of the car horns, I might have been stoned to death for letting them in ahead of me. Car horns beeped and I can only imagine the language. The person I allowed in line ahead of me rolled their window down and yelled back a “thank you.”

My wait in line this morning was maybe three minutes longer than it could have been, but within those three minutes I received a reminder of what I truly believe is all about. It’s about the significant acts of kindness that make a small but meaningful difference in other people’s lives. Like my fellow drive thru patrons I had right on my side. The interloper should have gone to the back of the line suffered with all the rest of us. But maybe, that very small act of kindness made the difference in their day and the day of those whose lives were affected by it. Some call paying it forward, some call it doing the right thing. I am beginning to believe it should be called a way of life.

Whether we embrace Christianity or not we are preparing to celebrate a season that is marked by kindness and generosity. For my part I can quote you Scripture until the cows come home, enter into thorny theological debates with you all day and all night if you’d like but as a friend of mine is fond of saying “That and $1.59 buys you a Coke.” What I have come to believe was put to the test in line at McDonalds this morning. Beneath the subterfuge of my self-righteousness lies the spirit encapsulated by the inn keeper long ago. He was the person who let a poor pregnant woman and her husband sleep in his stable, because they had nowhere else to go. They had no way of paying or repaying him but it dawns on me as I write, that very small act of kindness most likely made that man, the first Christian in thought and deed. There was no award or reward, just a natural outpouring of kindness to someone in need.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JAVAGAL2 12/7/2011 9:19AM

    If we all treated one another as we would like to be treated, the world would be a much better place. I'm ashamed to admit that I used to be one of those who would almost touch bumpers to let that person know they weren't breaking in front of me. Good for you for doing the right thing!

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NEEDTOLOSE100LB 12/5/2011 4:35PM

    I share your frustration with walking out of a great discussion about being kinder and more forgiving and then not giving anyone a break. Seems like it goes in one ear and out the other sometimes. But, then those Aha moments hit and you realize that maybe you can make a difference in someone's life, even if it is a little one. I had a longer commute home from my last job and I would get in moods where I would look for opportunities to let people in. It makes you feel good when you see them play it forward and extend that kindness to others too. Of course, there are always those that don't and you wish you hadn't let the ungreatful wretches in front of you, but we cannot know what they are dealing with that day. It doesn't hurt you to be nice. Now, with that said, I will admit that there were also days I would fight you for the spot in line (merge means YOU, not me!..lol). I am working on being kinder and losing that attitude. It is hard though and I take the victories as they come and work on more.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. Helps each one of us be more aware of our own actions.

L.

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CIVIAV 11/29/2011 11:29AM

    And the horns went with the natural outpouring I bet!

Life is not easy. Making the choices that make us feel better can be tough and I always remember the line saying that when you take public action that you will eventually have a run in with another who isn't happy about it. Staying the course isn't easy but as you said, oh so rewarding...

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NASFKAB 11/29/2011 1:08AM

  GOOD FOR YOU

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HDHAWK 11/28/2011 9:18PM

    Lovely. People are always in such a hurry. If they'd only stop to think how little time it saves in the end. They just end up stressed out.

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LYNMEINDERS 11/28/2011 8:50PM

    Thankyou so much for the reminder....it is so much easier to cut them out and make paople wait but like you said....it could have changed the persons day....

tahnkyou for doing that and for reminding me to change my attitude....

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WORKINGSTIFF 11/28/2011 7:15PM

    What a nice thing to do...you may have made that person's day just a little brighter.

I always tell my sons to notice that if you let someone cut in front of you like on the expressway or if you're leaving a crowded parking lot after a concert, that person will almost always do the same for another car.

Kindness is contagious if we're just brave enough to show it!

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ANATASHIKI 11/28/2011 5:38PM

    I do it as often I can but I know I do it for me. to make me feel good about myself . so I don't remember something and think over and over -I should have done this or I should have done that.if everybody is smart , I prefer to be stupid emoticon

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SUSIEPH1 11/28/2011 1:26PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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CMBELISLE 11/28/2011 12:18PM

    It is unfortunate that we live in a society where kindness is a rarity. Thanks for reminding me that there are others out there who manage to be kind to others.

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PGNBRI 11/28/2011 11:38AM

    Beautiful post John.

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JSPIN74 11/28/2011 10:49AM

    emoticon

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GOOFIERNU 11/28/2011 10:43AM

    emoticon
Thank you for this lesson.

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