Archives for posts with tag: Kindness

There is a bar near our house, a burger joint really – I’ll leave out the name to protect the innocent. The bar is a classic dive. Cheap beer. Deliciously greasy burgers. Red vinyl booths. A single gruff but genial waitress working her ass off. We went to our sweet dive for dinner a few nights ago.

Walking in, I noticed something sitting on the ledge just beside the door: A 24-hour sober chip.

My heart sunk. A 24-hour chip sitting outside of a dive bar. I didn’t even know they made 24 hour chips. That must be for someone who really needs encouragement. Someone who is still working on the whole one-day-at-a-time part of things. Shit.

We went inside and grabbed a booth.

Not long after we ordered a family of seven came through the door. Kids with ipods, parents in pea coats: not the typical clientele of our sweet dive. The man of the family surveyed the room and saw a man of about sixty sitting alone in a booth. The family man asked the other man if he would mind moving to the bar. The man obliged.

The man picked up his paper and his beer and moved to the bar. This move lost him a clear view of the football game and a seat with a back. He didn’t seem to mind but the family didn’t seem grateful either. I felt an irritation with the family, probably greater than I am allowed. These little brats were coming into our neighborhood, our bar, disrupting this man’s nice evening. While that may not have been their intention it was clear they didn’t see the repercussions of their actions.

Worry not, dear reader. Someone (not the family) bought that kind man a beer for his troubles.


Part of my job is customer service oriented. I help kids figure out how to navigate the vast machine that is higher education. I like this part of the job, I get to see the best and worst of people. Last week this interaction occurred:

Me: “Next.”

Student, fumbling with her bag: “Hi”

Me: “Hi, what can I help you with?”

Student: “Hi, um, you’re really pretty.”

Me: “Ha, thanks. What’s going on?”

Blah, blah, blah onward with professional service.

I took two things from this interaction. One, it’s REALLY nice to get a compliment from a stranger. Two, why is this such an uncommon experience? Why does it feel almost inappropriate to say something nice and unprompted to a stranger? Or even an acquaintance? I’m not sure but it’s true.

We can be kind to one another without looking for something in return. Maybe I can’t stop thinking about this because I see it as lacking in myself. I’m not one to dish out compliments but maybe I should be.

Ok, good talk, I’ll work on that.      

Once, at a bar, I told the lead singer of the Des Moines based band The Nadas that he was my new hero. The sweet, tired man listened to my drunken ramblings and asked, “Who was your old hero?” Without skipping a beat I pointed to my friend – standing an embarrassed yet protective distance away – and said, “Trina Lutes.”

Buck Brannaman – of the documentary Buck, which I put off watching for no good reason – is a different kind of hero.

Buck tells the story of Buck Brannaman, the real life “horse whisperer”. Buck’s patience with even the most stubborn horse proves the potential for human goodness. He is compassionate and kind and even though I don’t know anything about horses his methods have plenty to say about dealing with people: Be patient. Be kind. Remember that your energy/mood impacts the world.

I need to be reminded of those simple things once in a while. I think we all do. If you need a life affirming movie, give this a try. It’s sweet and quiet and beautiful.

You don’t get a smarter comedian/writer these days than Louis C.K.

Funny and kind? Can it be true?

I listened to a rebroadcast of the Fresh Air interview Louie did 2011. You should listen too: here’s a link. With each consecutive topic, after I finished laughing, I kept said, “Goddamnit he’s a good guy, like really a legitimately good  human being.” (yes, I literally said this out loud, in the car, to the bewilderment of the poodle) That’s not something I find myself saying about comics too often but Louie has a way of thinking through life and humor that strives to reach truth. Even if a subject is touchy or offensive Louie is full of kindness and gratitude and an awe for life you just don’t see from many balding middle-aged comics.

His comedy, his aura is something I can’t seem to articulate. Sorry, folks. Thankfully we bought tickets to his live show in October. Maybe that will clear things up.

We listened to Sarah Silverman’s memoir while driving to and from the North Shore last week.

She’s far kinder than this cover photo implies. As a traditional memoir should, Silverman discusses her childhood, her beginnings in comedy, and life as an actress/writer. I pushed this book to the back of my to-read list because I thought it was going to be satire. Far from it, my friends (hint: she really was a bedwetter). Even the dog was too entertained to sleep:

Silverman is a compassionate person who just happens to have a raunchy sense of humor. Maybe it’s that crudeness that actually gives life to the compassion. She has an eye for the human experience and a way of talking about depression that is more inclusive than I’ve ever heard. I laughed out loud. I winced at the embarrassing moments. You can’t ask for much more from an audiobook. I’ve said it before, the audiobook is the way to go with celebrity memoirs. Silverman’s intonation and voice-work pulls the whole piece together. Read it. Really.

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