I'm having a bad day. I go get the mail. Maybe there’s an ARC in there to brighten my day. There's a toddler with me. He’s about to turn two years old and stoked about the trees, the sun, the rocks, the birds. To him, everything is the best thing ever. It's hard to be too angry at life when you're in the presence of true wonder, of unfiltered amazement and unembarrassed curiosity.
There are two guys getting some boxes from the back of a truck. One of them says he left something upstairs and moves toward us. The toddler runs to him and says “Hi!” The dude kneels, says “What’s up, little buddy?” The kid lifts his right arm and says “Five!” The dude gives him a high five, tussles his hair, and moves on. The second guy is slowly walking toward the mailboxes. His thumbs are dancing on top of his phone’s screen, which he holds about three inches from his nose. The toddler goes to him, says “Hi!” The guy looks down, says nothing, looks back at his phone. The toddler looks at me. He’s confused. He looks at the guy again and says “Hi!” a lot louder and waiving his hand. Phone douche looks down again, says nothing. I grab some bills and walk to him. I get so close my chest is pressed against his right arm. In a low, calm voice I say “Listen, asshole, you’re gonna put the phone down and say hi to the kid or I’m gonna knock you the fuck out.” The guy looks at me, puts the phone away, bends down with his hands on his knees. He says hi to the kid. I grab the kid’s hand and walk away.
Two days later I’m getting on the bus after a hard day. The #5 bus hisses to a stop in front of us and a young lady gets on in front of me. The driver is a really tall black guy who always shoots the shit with me. He’s a nice man who says hello to everyone and deals with the crazies and the belligerent assholes with a smile on his face. He looks at the lady and says “How are you doing today?” The woman looks at him, says nothing, and walks to a seat. I look at him and loudly say: “Man, seems like some assholes were never taught to be nice to people!” He smiles. Seeing his lips curl up makes me feel better. You know, like not all of humanity is as worthless as a sick dog’s turd.
Saturday finally rolls around. I’m walking to the bookstore. An old lady is pushing a cart with three big boxes filled with books on it. She tries to get it up on the sidewalk and the cart falls over, spilling her books on the floor and beneath her car. I stop and help her get them. I end up doing all the work because it’s clear that bending down is punishment on her joints. She thanks me a hundred times, tells me how nice I am a few dozen times, and gives me a hug. Four or five people walked by while I was retrieving books from under the car. No one stopped. Fuck them, they missed out on a good hug.
Anyway, I told you three stories that happened within the same week to tell you this: be fucking nice. Yeah, I know, you have bills to pay and your boss is an asshole and traffic was terrible and you have a ton of stuff to do and the day is overcast and it’s too hot or too hold or too damn humid and your neighbor’s dog messed up your plants and you didn’t sleep well and you’re hungry and you need a drink and your bank account is depressing as fuck and life is horrible. I get it. My life’s the same. We usually don’t get as much love as we think we deserve and we can’t make a great bundle of money doing what we’re passionate about and maybe that guy or that girl will never look at you with a twinkle in his or her eye. We’re all in the same boat, but being an asshole to everyone won’t make your problems miraculously vanish. On the other hand, being nice to people might get you a smile, a great conversation or even a hug from a grandma. Both of mine are no longer around to hug me, so I really fucking appreciate every one of those I get.
Listen, I know you have stuff to deal with, but you should be nice to people because they’re not to blame for your issues. If they are, that’s a different story, but kids don’t need your jadedness, bus drivers don’t need your attitude, and old ladies need a little help once in a while. This is an ugly world, but being nice can make it a little better. I’m not saying you should be nice all the time, but try to be nice to those who deserve it until they stop deserving it or it’s simply time to tell some asshole to put the goddamn phone away. It’s simple, it’s easy, and it’s free: just fucking be nice. Cool? Hope you have a great day. Much love.