November 30, 2006

Do Good

A while back, Beth and I attended a co-worker's wedding. Last night, we got a thank you note. In the note, deviating from typical thankyouspeak, she called me a role model. This is someone I think highly of. It made me feel good.

And that got me thinking about how powerful we are. Yes, you and me. Forget about the ability to fly, to swoop down from the sky to rescue helpless puppies or foil the plans of evil geniuses. The ability to shoot webs from our wrists and jet around town avoiding traffic and saving innocents from peril is nothing. Turning green and freakishly muscular pales in comparison to our powers. We're superheroes. We've got words. And words have the power to make or break someone's day. Followed up with actions, well, you have a truly mighty duo.

I thought about this a lot last night and, in my quest not to be an asshat, I decided I'd try to consciously do something nice for someone today. Just a tiny, insignificant act for a complete stranger that might help brighten a day. I think you should too. What better way to prove that I have the most kick-ass readers in the history of Western civilization? And it might make you feel warm and fuzzy inside So I ask you, what have you done lately to make someone's day a little better? What will you do - or have you already done - today? Try it out. Report back. Toot your own horn. Be good.

Posted by Chris at November 30, 2006 07:07 AM

This sounds like a lovely idea! I'll remember to come back and report later on my accomplishments. :o)

Posted by: Emily at November 30, 2006 07:18 AM

I just came across your blog a couple weeks ago, I think it is great. This idea is wonderful and I wish more people thought this way...Thanks for being a role model :)

Posted by: Christie at November 30, 2006 07:39 AM

On the way to work this morning I dropped off the toys I purchased yesterday for Toys for Tots. Does that count?

Posted by: Alissa at November 30, 2006 07:55 AM

This is a great idea. Whenever I'm feeling down, the best pick-me-up is doing a unexpected nice deed (e.g., giving someone a free subway ride, letting someone ahead of me at the supermarket, etc.) Last week I sent someone a center piece for her Thanksgiving table. I will see what opportunities arise today.

Posted by: mdv at November 30, 2006 08:02 AM

Last night on 20/20 they talked about the...crap..I can't think of what they called it..."Charity High" or something. Basically how doing for others is completely selfish because of the feeling one gets. It is great to be selfish in that way.

Posted by: William at November 30, 2006 08:10 AM

I know this is going to sound silly to a boy, but at work I make it a routine to notice if people are wearing certain colors that just make them glow--"That color is sooo good on you!" Or if a lady has new shoes--"LOVE those shoes!" I once told someone that she had a beautiful smile (and I don't say these just to say these things--they are genuine) and you would have thought that I gave her a million bucks. Put a bounce in her step like I'd never seen...and about an hour later I heard her say to the person in the cube next to her, "You have gorgeous eyes."

It's time we start helping people feel good about being them, rather than the personal flogging most people ususally go through day in and day out. More good things are created off of it.

Posted by: kristen at November 30, 2006 08:14 AM

Absolutely a great idea! I always try to do or say something positive for or to a random person each day, hoping that they will pass on the favour. I always wonder how many do. I hope all...

Posted by: E :) at November 30, 2006 08:20 AM

Hmmmmm- I let someone cross at a crosswalk and was rewarded with a rearending from the car behind me... and I didn't kick the persons butt... (she was on the phone, not bluetooth but PHONE)...
Doesn't that get me a little pat??

Posted by: Stephanie at November 30, 2006 08:28 AM

You did that for me yesterday. That small comment you left, and the follow-up email, made quite a difference in my day. And I'm feeling much better now :)
Today, I will do just the same. Lend my shoulder and ears to a stranger, as you have done for me.

Yesterday, your insignificant act made a significant difference in someone's life. Thank you. You are a rockstar.

Posted by: Mel at November 30, 2006 08:31 AM

Are you looking for people to do nice things for? I could use some help raking the front yard....

Posted by: alfredsmom at November 30, 2006 08:37 AM

I paid for a guy behind me to go through the toll booth for free. He sped up, got along side of me and waved a dollar out the window like I was going to pull over on the freeway to take it.

Posted by: Pammer at November 30, 2006 08:56 AM

I'll keep that in mind today and get back to you tomorrow.

Posted by: wordgirl at November 30, 2006 08:57 AM

I held the elevator for a minute because I knew there were people walking into the building after me - our elevators are slow and I didn't want to make them wait for the next one.
This weekend my kids will be sorting through their (plentiful) toys to select items they no longer want/use to donate to good will - it's an annual Christmas season event.

Posted by: Traci at November 30, 2006 09:16 AM

Well we're having a snow day from work today so I'm probably stuck at home with this weather. So I'll do as you request, but I may have to start tomorrow.

Posted by: daisy at November 30, 2006 09:25 AM

Can I do it while watching TV?

Posted by: Phil at November 30, 2006 09:35 AM

I sometimes drop change into other people's parking meters. I try to hold doors, retrieve dropped items and offer a hand to anyone who stumbles whenever I have the chance, but those are just common courtesy, really.

Posted by: Melissa at November 30, 2006 09:41 AM

On Black Friday, I ventured out and shopped all day. When I got home I checked my mail and found a coupon for a store that I had just shopped. It was only $5 off for me (my purchase was under $25), but (since I live close to the store) I drove back to get my credit. I took the other coupons with me just in case and wound up giving the lady in line ahead of me a coupon that saved her $30 and the lady behind me a coupon for $10 off. That trip back to the store saved us all a total of $45. It was worth the time.

Posted by: CJ at November 30, 2006 09:47 AM

I had this overwhelming feeling recently to do good, or in Google terms, "Not be evil"

I had been saving for a digital camera for tinkering around with, when one of the blogs I read had a story about how their daughter had left her camera on the teacher's desk in school and somebody stole it.

I decided to take what I had saved, bought and sent her a new camera. I just didn't want this incident to jade a 12 year old, and wind up costing her the ability to be on the school newspaper. I can wait and get one another time.

Posted by: Latte Man at November 30, 2006 10:29 AM

Its not much but when I'm working, just to make someones day, I'll tell them their latte/coffee is "on the house" and I just give it to them. It's crazy how giving someone a 4.00 drink "on the house" perks people up. Like I said not much, but it's something and they usually leave with a huge grin.

Also, speaking of this, it's been common lately that when we work the drive thru at work, the current person paying will ask to pay for whatever coffee the car behind them ordered. Make sense? It's contageious because then THAT next person pays for the person BEHIND them. It's so cool to see those faces light up when this happens.

I feel all happy and warm now.

Posted by: VirgoJen at November 30, 2006 10:33 AM

Today, I will attempt to not kick any puppies. :p

Just kidding. I got the first shipment of Christmas presents that I ordered, so I'm feeling pretty generous. I can't think of a good random act of kindness... so it will have to happen randomly when the opportunity presents itself.

Posted by: Hope at November 30, 2006 10:41 AM

I too have just bought some toys for the salvation army and will donate them.

Also on Friday when our adopt a child tree goes up at work I will adopt one this year!

Posted by: Amy at November 30, 2006 11:15 AM

I love, love, love this. As it is something that I try to do everyday. To look past my own little bubble and notice things like the lady infront of Walmart at the vending machine in the wheel chair shopping cart thingy-ma-bob fishing for qaurters from her purse, people rushing past her to get their buggies (I'm from Alabama the are buggies not carts) and go in, looking for their lists. To busy to see past their own lives. I stop and ask if I can get what she needs, she smiles, I do and then go about my way.

Or shopping on Black Friday going into Toys R Us among the droves of people it is windy and a "shopping cart" has begun to roll from the sidewalk to the parking lot, picking up speed as it roles. I see people walk right past it. I run over and grab it and push it back, an older man smiles at me. Sure it wasn't going to hit my car, I was parked on the other side of the lot, but it was going to hit someones.

Sorry for the long 'comment'. What I do on a daily basis is small in comparison to some things but not to the people who see that sometimes somebody is paying attention and kindness is still around.

Kudos to you Rude Cactus!

Posted by: Kelly M. at November 30, 2006 11:26 AM

since i'm not leaving my house today, i'll have to figure out a way to be randomly kind here. hmmmm... i'll report back!

Posted by: kimblahg at November 30, 2006 11:37 AM

I didn't shoot anyone on the way to work this morning!! That's good, right?

I am tooting my own horn here because I do this everyday and? I am pleased to report that it always comes back to me 10-fold.

When I am at my best, I believe in treating everyone the way you would if you knew it was the last time you were ever going to see them again, whether it is loved ones or strangers. You never know when that small gesture could change someone's life or save someone's life. Likewise, a mean, hurtful or thoughtless gesture could make a profound negative impact. You are so right about our super powers.

Once again, rockin' and inspiring post!! I totally heart you.

Posted by: anita at November 30, 2006 12:02 PM

I'm going shopping for my neice and nephew tomorrow at Toys R Us, and I plan on buying a few toys to put in their Toy Drive bin while I'm there. It always makes me sad to think that some kids don't get to celebrate the holidays.

Great post today. Thanks for being such a great role model, and definitely not being an "asshat"!

Posted by: Heather at November 30, 2006 12:15 PM

What is this? Some kind of cyber Pay it Forward??? Me? Nice? Hmmmmm??? I'm ALWAYS nice! ;-) You want me to be nicER though, and then tell you about it? I may be able to do that....well hey, just today I picked out an outfit for your wife. I put real thought into it too. That was nice. And I sent her my REAL address so we can exchange cards. Ha, I was nice AND it involved your family, AND this was before I knew about your litte, be-nice-to-people proclaimation. My work here is done! Ahahahahahaha

Posted by: Kate at November 30, 2006 12:45 PM

My good deeds tend to fall along the lines of things I don't do, like punching my customers or blowing up the workplace. I think I'm a better person for it.

Posted by: whit at November 30, 2006 01:06 PM

You know, Oprah gave HER readership-equivalents ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS to do good.

(what? you were serious? oh. um. right, then.)

Posted by: s@bd at November 30, 2006 01:29 PM

As I librarian in an urban neighborhood, I feel like I see everything. From "how do I get on the Internet? I've never worked a computer before" to "my homework is due in three hours! help!" to "my immigration appointment is today and I don't understand this letter they sent me" goal each day is to treat every interaction patience and respect, even when it's not necessarily shown to me in return. Mostly, I'm successful at this, and getting better every day. Thanks for letting us all toot our own horns for a moment!

Posted by: Librarian Girl at November 30, 2006 01:42 PM

I don't talk about the things I do. Some of the folks who have benefited from such acts know, and that's enough for me, though a lot of the time I accomplish anonymity. Let's just say I've picked up some tabs, shared some miles, bailed out some rents, bought some travel tickets, stocked some pantries, paid a hotel bill or two on the sly when I knew it would be a help.

When I have, I give. When I can, I do. Watch your back! LOL

Posted by: bhd at November 30, 2006 01:58 PM

Wow, judging by your comments, you have some seriously nice readers.

If I can remember to do it, doing something nice for someone else always makes me feel better when I'm having a bad day.

I gave some money to America's Second Harvest last week. They sent me a thank you email today. And I went to hang out at my mother in law's house when I really, really didn't want to, just so my sister in law's life would be easier. I could maybe have been a little more gracious about that one though, so I'm not sure it counts. John had to listen to some grumbling.

Posted by: bad penguin at November 30, 2006 02:04 PM

Well, I went into school so that my students could give their scheduled presentations with the flu...and the leftover brownies I dropped off at the office.

Also, I sent a fellow blogger a present today, just because it sounded like she needed a pick-me-up.

Oh, and yesterday I helped a lady reach something on the top shelf in a store because I had about a foot and a half on her heightwise.

I love this idea, and love the comments you have received. I will check back later to read more about your fabulous readers.

Posted by: Krush at November 30, 2006 02:26 PM

wow! color me impressed ;)

Posted by: ali at November 30, 2006 02:38 PM

I try to frequently pay genuine compliments to the people I work with.

Yesterday I took a little extra time to do some research that I knew would save the other person a LOT of time.

This year, in lieu of presents, my family has agreed to let me spend the money reserved for their gifts to "buy" an animal through Heifer International(, which I found through Beth's site (YAY Beth!). I mean, how can a trinket or a scarf compare to food and a livelihood for an entire family? I think the $200 I had bookmarked could do a lot more good this way.

Posted by: heels at November 30, 2006 02:47 PM

I won $100 from the lottery earlier this week and I was thinking I was going to buy myself something nice, but then I read this post. As I was walking by the empty toys for tots box in our office I got an idea. I spent the $100 at lunch buying toys at Target.

Posted by: linda at November 30, 2006 02:57 PM

Random acts of kindness. Absolutely.

My son sent me this two days ago but my net's been down. It's a very small thing to do.

As World AIDS Day approaches (Dec. 1), we are reminded that millions of people need our help with the AIDS pandemic, but we often think, "What can I do?"

Here is one simple way you can help, and it costs you nothing but a moment and a mouse click...

Bristol Myers Squibb will donate $1 for every person who goes to their web site and lights a candle to fight AIDS, up to a max of $100,000 (chump change for them, but I'll take it). At this point, the counter is just over 31,000... so we need many more candles lit.

Please light a candle... and help spread the light.
Click Here To Spread the Light

Posted by: ann adams at November 30, 2006 03:00 PM

I made a pumpkin pie for a friend of ours who loves them and doesn't know how to bake. The look on his face was awsome!

Posted by: Maribeth at November 30, 2006 03:20 PM

I offered to come in to work on a scheduled day off tomorrow to help out because it's been pretty busy in our office this week. My boss nearly kissed me, and she's not really the demonstrative type. I'm pretty sure that was a "yes."

You're a good egg, Chris Cactus.

Posted by: shelley at November 30, 2006 04:28 PM

This is my life motto! There are too many people out there who are just too preoccupied with their own lives to smile at those around them - grocery store clerks, barristas, etc. Just a simple smile or a compliment on a great shirt really makes someone's day. I agree completely!

Posted by: Heather at November 30, 2006 04:42 PM

I believe in doing something good for someone everday, holding the elevator, opening doors, saying hi. What can I say? I'm addicted to the warm and fuzzy feeling. :)

BTW - Operation Jingle All the Way 2006 gets an okay result this year. Not as much stuff as I got in 2005 but hey whatever counts. Next year I know to start collecting sooner! :-D

Posted by: Oakley at November 30, 2006 04:44 PM

I don't think I will beat my own drum but I do try to be kind and do things for others daily. Yes it is addictive and sure makes a body feel good. YOU are a good role model dear Chris. I proud of you. You also spread cheer each day through your least it cheers me :)

Posted by: Pat (Trish) at November 30, 2006 05:06 PM

Due to a computer/ scheduling snafu, I ended up having to spend a period today with 50 students, rather than the 25 I was expecting.

The kids were, in a word, amazing. I told them I'd like to do something to thank them for being so kind and cooperative but I didn't know what, exactly, to do right that minute. I gave them all vouchers for future redemption for a snack or help with something at a later date. Their choice.

It felt good and they really appreciated it.

Posted by: Kara at November 30, 2006 05:11 PM

Helping people hurts...My head that is. I just left a post on your old blog from yesterday, that's how much I've been helping people today. It can be mentally draining sometimes, but nice when you are able to keep someone out of a crisis. WooHoo for Friday though!

Posted by: Michelle at November 30, 2006 05:52 PM

I played with a bunch of preschoolers today. And while, yes, I was paid for it, I believe I did my best to make sure they were having fun and were comfortable in the class.

Posted by: Sijbrich at November 30, 2006 06:19 PM

I was hoping that a really great opportunity for me to do something nice would come up. Nothing super great, but I was able to help someone flag down a cab.

Posted by: ESY at November 30, 2006 06:38 PM

I got my hubby coffee today - just how he likes it. So he got to stay inside while I went out in crappy weather. Also got my little boy some chocolate milk while there. They were happy men with their drinks. Also, did something for a friend of mine with ALS. We have a "fan club" for her... So I'm in charge of it..

Posted by: Lisa B at November 30, 2006 06:43 PM

I made sure the kids in my class went home with good reports for their parents by helping them get their classwork done.

Then I took them outside for some well deserved recess time before they went home as a thank you for their hard work.


Posted by: Shash at November 30, 2006 07:23 PM

I bought candy kisses and put them on my desk for all to have and enjoy. And um...I didn't ask Snoop Dog if he was really going to Prison when I saw him a few hours ago. Does that work? :)

Posted by: Melissa at November 30, 2006 07:28 PM

I am inspired by the "quest not to be an asshat"!!!

Posted by: Bunny at November 30, 2006 08:30 PM

Very well said. Our words and actions always have an impact on everyone around us and the same is applicable to us being impacted by others' words and actions.
I always greet the security guards at the elevator entrance to my part of the building. the road I take to go back home is a long, winding 2-way single lane each way road, to join in on our direction there usually are crazy amount of cars from a road joining ours. I ALWAYS let one car in and dont rush to make my way. Thats enough horn tooting for now, what say?

Posted by: Dee at November 30, 2006 09:08 PM

can i use one from last friday?

i know it was black friday, the buy nothing day, but i needed an electric griddle and found myself at winners, unable to resist the draw of cheap christmas goods. after finding a birthday present for a good friend, i stood in line for about twenty minutes while a young cashier patiently and sweetly dealt with angry customers, people yelling at her and a co-cashier freaking out when she asked a simple question. when my turn came, she still managed to smile and greet me, but some of the light in her had diminished.

when i was signing my credit card receipt she noticed a bracelet i was wearing. just a simple, silver bracelet. she even commented on it.

so i gave it to her.

granted, it's part of a family tradition about passing things on, but still, i hope it made her day somewhat better. i know it certainly made mine an incalculable amount happier.

Posted by: meg at November 30, 2006 10:13 PM

I donated some books to the library yesterday and I'm attempting to donate lots of goods to a mission in the city. The selfish component here is that it gets the stuff out of my house.

I always try to hold doors for people, let people into my lane in traffic if they signal, basic courtesies. But I think they go a along way.

I'll try to do something deliberate tomorrow and let you know how it goes.

Posted by: Annie at November 30, 2006 10:48 PM

What did I do?

I told this one guy how he was an awesome writer and I loved reading his blog. I admired his ability to tell a story and inject humor into everything, and he believed me too, what a sucker...

Oh wait, that was you, never mind! ;-)

Posted by: Jeff A at December 1, 2006 01:25 AM

Random acts of kindness. I like this. You are a role model.

I work in a hospital and I always make it a point to talk to the environmental sevices crew (cleaning crew). They're probably the least acknowledged and have the yuckiest job. I also translate for people on a regular basis. Like the post office. They always ask and I'm more than happy to oblige. We have mucho spanish speakers out here.

Today though, I will try to do something specific, for someone specific. And I will think of you as I do it. You're sending good vibrations over the internets.

Posted by: nila at December 1, 2006 05:14 AM

I gave a bum 5 bucks (on Black Friday) and I don't care if he was just going to buy booze....if that is what makes him happy, I am happy to have helped.
Now, as for my plans for the future, I plan on purchasing wishlist gifts for needy seniors/disabled from the local Angel Tree.

Good idea Chris!

Posted by: Nanette at December 1, 2006 07:32 AM

I'm back to report my good deed. I helped a couple order dinner at a restaurant where no one spoke English. Doesn't sound like much, but yesterday was a four letter word work day. My mission at the end of it was to pick up dinner and not speak to another human.

Posted by: mdv at December 1, 2006 07:37 AM

I don't have anything extra nice to report back. I let people merge ahead of me on the freeway, and was polite to the checker at the grocery store, but I always do that. I think we'd be better off as a society if everybody went even that far.

Posted by: Kate the Shrew at December 1, 2006 10:17 AM

It was very cold in Seattle this week. While out shopping, we bought a homeless man a hot cup of cocoa. The next night there was a guy in the grocery store parking lot who had run out of gas and didn't have any cash on him. I gave him my last $2.

I don't usually do "nice" things like this. But I think I'm going to start. I mean, this cost me nore more than $5...but has made me feel good all week.

This post is a reminder that we all can do more.

Posted by: Isabel at December 1, 2006 02:52 PM

I helped my cleaning lady start her own business -- she never lets me forget it.... She always wants to do things for me, and I tell her that seeing her happy and successful is reward enough for me. :)

This was such a great post, as usual, Chris. :) You are a role model, foh shoh (or, as I like to say lately, fashizzle!) ;) silly me....

Posted by: Haley-O at December 1, 2006 05:09 PM

Even though this is for work, I guess it counts. I am a designer and am working on a pro bono project for a center that helps children of abuse and neglect. I went there with my writer partner the other day to tour their facility, and it was inspiring and completely heartbreaking at the same time. These little children were so tiny, some as young as six weeks old, and in a way they seemed like beautiful, normal little kids. But if you stop and think about it, they are there for a reason and the burdens they have to carry around on their little shoulders are more than I'll have to deal with in a lifetime.

So anyway, I love that I can contribute to helping the center raise money.

Posted by: angela at December 2, 2006 07:57 AM