We get 24 hours in a day. For most of us a quarter of that time is spent sleeping. that leaves 18 hours of productivity. We choose to fill that time with work, family, friends, maybe eating. But, lets be honest, most of us spend the majority of our time just wasting time. I do it, you do it. We all do it. Playing games, iPad, iPhone, Facebook, Twitter, Tinder, Tumblr, Fumblr. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Amazon Not so prime (aka reading)
We waste so much of our 18 hours just wasting time. I’m not accusing. I do it too. And because we waste so much time, we often feel rushed because we feel we have so little time. Or, for some of us, looking and feeling busy is the rush we desire. I think I already wrote on this topic, maybe not, but looking busy has become a personality trait for many. I’m funny, he’s athletic, She’s always busy. (Or he’s always busy, not to judge) We rush around and we don’t have time for simple things.
I’m not talking about family, friends, watching birds and smelling flowers. Those things are cute, but the simple things I’m talking about are as follows:
1: Putting your shopping cart back in the return area. And I’m not talking about leaving it in the general area, barely touching the one in front of it, but still hanging out in the parking lot. I mean pushing it all the way down the chute and possibly even slamming it into the back of the previous one so they all lock together. It’s so tacky and annoying when I’m returning my cart and I cant even get it into the chute because everyone has just left a pile. So busy they just couldn’t give it a good shove. Who does this affect. First of all, me! Secondly the guys and girls making minimum wage fetching these carts. They should be able to hook them up in a little train and return them. Instead they spend most of their time having to push them all together. Which breaks their backs and leaves more and more shopping cart mess in the parking lot. And if you are the person who leaves your cart in the parking space next to you…. I’m coming for you!
2: Saying hello to the Walmart greeter. (This also applies to Target, Home Depot, and any other shopping center or market that employs someone usually elderly or disabled to say hello and make you feel welcome) Saying hello costs no energy and takes no time. They say hello, you say hello. Maybe smile, but its not required. Of course, I’ve lived in places where if someone says hello to you on the street, there’s a pretty good chance you are going to be leaving with less money. But, I can 99.9% assure you the Walmart greeter isn’t going to mug you or swindle you into buying them a new car. Just say hello.
3: Cleaning up the mess you made on or around your table at a restaurant. I’ve eaten with kids, and they can be messy. I’ve eaten with adults, and they can be messy. I get it. You’re having a great time eating and celebrating and throwing your bread up in the air and sometimes things will fall to the floor. But, if you are able to pick up your fork, napkin, onion ring, or 4 month old baby, that would be a great help to the servers and busboys so they don’t have to climb under the table. And if they aren’t the cleaning type so the next customer doesn’t have to step on your fork, napkin, onion ring, or 4 month old baby. It doesn’t take that much time and it’s a great help.
4: Putting clothes back on the hanger at a store. Many places employ armies whose entire job it is to put clothes away. But, you know there are other places where an hour after opening it looks like a tornado came through and knocked every article of clothing off its hanger and onto the floor or draped over the rack. It’s a disaster for the employees and future shoppers. I won’t say I’m the biggest fan of hanging up clothes, but how much time and energy does it really take to notice a shirt is the wrong size and to put it back on the hanger it came off of? This also applies to folded clothes, but I would recommend having a PhD in Foldology first.
Yes, we are busy. Some days are more rushed that others. But, if you take a little extra time to help a fellow man or woman, the world might be just a little nicer.
If there is one lesson I would love to teach everyone I come in contact with it is this:
I know, you have heard that phrase a million times. So often it has lost all its meaning.
You think “Of course I’m going to be myself! Who else would I be?”
But, you know, that simple phrase carries so much more than the literal meaning. It means not hiding your true feelings, wants, desires, thoughts, and beliefs. It means not changing your image, pretending to be something else, liking something, loving something, doing something, being something.
The pressure to conform is one of the most powerful forces in nature. If you go along with the crowd you will be protected. This is true for everyone and everything on Earth. A pack of gazelles run through the African plains together because there is power in numbers when an hungry cheetah comes calling. And a pack of teenage girls hang together because it keeps one of them from being singled out for things both good and bad. A student sits at the lunch table alone and others wonder that is wrong with him or her. They must smell, or have issues, or people hate them, etc. The flow of speculations run wild and nothing has actually been done or said. But clearly, something is wrong! Nobody thinks that maybe this solo student just wants to eat their lunch in quiet and watch the world around them.
Of course, this pack mentality carries over into the adult world as well. Humans find power in numbers. Nobody wants to be alone because it leaves them vulnerable. Ever walk into a Pub and you are the only one there? Even if you weren’t planning on socializing that night, it is freaking weird! Why is nobody else there? Are they all off doing something else? Was there some huge event going on and you weren’t invited? What will people think if they walk into the Pub and they see you sitting alone at the bar? It is safer just to leave and find some people.
Imagine going to a major sporting event and you are the only one there! The chances of that ever happening are non-existent, but imagine it. Even if it is a World Cup match or the Super Bowl and you have the best seat in the house, wouldn’t it be incredibly scary to be in that huge stadium all by yourself? Now imagine the same event with a packed house and you are the only one rooting for the other team. Like being a Red Sox fan in Yankee Stadium, or hypothetically, a Mets fan in Busch Stadium the home of the St. Louis Cardinals. Take it from me, it’s not easy. Often the easiest route becomes giving up on your loyalty to your team and doing what ever it takes to fit in. Or, heaven forbid, get beer poured over your head. Going with the pack keeps you under the radar and, although it prevents you from any kind of personal success, keeps you safe and secure.
I tend to be a bit of an extroverted introvert. If you have ever spent quality time with me you know that I can be loud, silly, funny, and controversial. (Ok.. maybe not that controversial.. I’m just trying to create a daring image of myself to make you think I go outside the lines) Case in point. I am a character actor. I see the need for a type of character in a room and I try to fill it. I can be the political hot head, the George Carlin “What happened to the world?” guy. The Jerry Seinfeld “Have you ever noticed?” guy. I do voices. A lot of voices! Old man, Young kid, New York Jew, Hillbilly, Harvey Fierstein, Henry Kissinger, Richard Nixon, Gollum, Judd Geizer: The Chupacabra Whisperer, etc. Whatever voice I think will get a few people to laugh, or at least myself. But none of them are me. I’m an Irish kid in his early 30’s who has watched a lot of TV and movies. And these characters are a cloak to hide the real me. I like peace and quiet. Just me, my thoughts, and the voices in my head (all nice, no worries). I am shy and always have been. I don’t make a lot of small talk and rarely speak without being spoken to. People freak me out! Ok, maybe not “Freak me out” but I fit right into radio because I could speak to millions (statistics pending) without actually speaking to anyone. I could play a character and not worry about any immediate judgement. Even when I am performing to a group of people, I turn off my eyes and just speak into the distance. The moral of the story is, if I let my true character out into public everyone would wonder about that weird kid sitting alone in the corner. And that, my friends, is something I would like to avoid.
I began writing this article on April 20th. Or as some people know it 4/20: International Cannabis Day. The day to go smoke a lot of Marijuana because some Twitter post told you to. I did some market research that day in Wal-Mart and Subway and I couldn’t help notice that people were walking and talking just a bit slower and more subs were being ordered than on the day the US Navy spends their tax dollars. It was clear that enough people in this country were participating, but when I asked a few people (Online, I’d never talk to strangers in real life) about why 4/20 is the day to smoke Pot, nobody could actually give me an answer. I wont take the time to explain the reason here because, quite frankly, I find it almost as comical as the celebration, but look it up online if you are interested. My point is, tens of thousands of Americans chose to get baked on April 20th because they wanted to fit in (and other reasons, I’m sure). If it were really about enjoying smoking Marijuana, then wouldn’t they just do it anyway? Why did so many people choose the day when they knew thousands of other people would be doing it too? Pack mentality and fitting in. Safety in numbers.
I have written my views on why we feel the need to fit in and the importance of staying with a group. Now, what can be done about it? I’m not saying finding people with similar interests isn’t a positive activity. It is a fantastic idea! That is, unless the group you are trying to fit into is not the group where you belong.
I was a jock at heart, I just lacked a lot of the physical ability to be one on the outside. I played Football (poorly), Hockey (poorly), and Baseball (extremely poorly). I was Captain of the Cross Country team and was quite a good runner, but because of my physical limitations due to my Ankylosing Spondylitis, I was never as good as I could have been. But, that was okay because I still enjoyed doing the best I could do. The person I was not was the party animal. I would go to loud obnoxious parties in college and I would put on a good face, but I hated it! I never ever felt comfortable in a mass of people and loud music. The corner table at the Pub with my friends and a glass of Guinness or Stone IPA was more my comfort zone. Eventually I became true to myself and if going to a loud party was the only way I could socialize, then I just didn’t socialize that night. It wasn’t worth the discomfort.
I would encourage anyone who reads this to evaluate where they truly feel at home. If you are quiet, then don’t pretend to be loud. If you are a reader, then don’t pretend to be a Reality TV fan. If you are gay, then don’t pretend to be straight. If you want to be in the musical then audition for the musical. Don’t worry about what other people might say. Be the person you want to be! If you want to test your limits, then by all means test away. If you like it, great! If not, you will have a comfortable place and identity to call home.
I don’t claim to have all the answers. I don’t even pretend to. I don’t even think having a PhD in Psychology means you have all the answers. Is this blog post a cover-up of who I really am? Probably. But, maybe not. I’m just trying on the costume of someone who writes these kinds of things. Maybe I want people to read this and think I am intelligent and insightful. It’s human nature to hide your true self. I don’t think anyone can go a whole day without tweaking a personality trait or interest a bit to impress someone, or at least fit in. But, I think it’s worth a try.
“Pretending to be someone else is exhausting” – Anonymous (Or, maybe I made up this quote to make people think I’m the kinda guy that likes quotes)
I first had this theory a few Christmases ago when I was doing my shopping.
I was driving through the parking lot at the O’Fallon Walmart searching for a parking spot. My eyes were darting around, checking traffic, looking for spots and most of all keeping an eye on all the people walking around.
There is this rule we all know. In the hierarchy of transportation. Pedestrians have right of way over cars. It makes sense, cars are bigger than people and hitting a person with a car makes them break. I have no problem stopping and letting people cross or not following too closely if they are walking in the middle of the road. I consider myself to be very courteous.
However, this hierarchy does not give the pedestrian to act like a moron. All around the world people dart into traffic. They are walking down the sidewalk and then suddenly they cross in front of you without looking. They push their shopping carts out of the store that full speed without checking traffic. Parents don’t hold their kids hands in the parking lot and then the kid dashes to the car. If I hit one of them, it really doesn’t matter whose fault it was, the person could be seriously hurt or killed and my car will be fine.
That is why I propose that people should be required to have turn signals. Maybe some day they will be surgically installed, but for starters all we will need is a belt with lights on each side that either you activate or they sense movement to the side and signal automatically. This would allow drivers to know that the person in front of them is about to step in front of you without thinking. It could work.
Along those lines I also propose rail road style crossing gates for the entrances and exits to stores. If you want to cross the street you must first wait for the gates to open. I have actually seen a system like this. There are places in Ho Chi Minh City (Mainly in the tourist areas) where there are mechanical crossing guards, lights and a warning alarm to let the motorists know people are now free to cross the street willy nilly. It could work.
Before I close this rant I would like to take a moment to address the drivers. Every car has turn signals. They are activated by a little up and down lever on the left side of your steering wheel. You push it up to signal right and you push it down to signal left. It is a very easy process and does not cost anything to use. PLEASE USE THEM!
Every day, I come to an intersection. There is someone in the lane opposite of me. Their signals are not flashing with leads me to believe they will be driving straight. Since I am also going straight I start to pull forward only to discover their car turning left towards me. And the worst is when they get mad at me for getting in front of them. Well, awkward situations like this could be fixed if they had only used their turn signals. Of course this example is a minor annoyance. There are plenty other times when not using signals cause accidents. Changing lanes right into someone, slamming into someone’s rear because they didn’t signal and therefore did not notify the driver that they were going to slow down for the turn. My wife tells me nobody in Missouri uses them, its just the way things are here. But I say they are in cars for a reason people.
Thank you, that is all 🙂
Some people call them random acts of kindness. I like to think that they aren’t so random. For something to be random, it means it happened without expecting it, on a breeze with no forward thought. It might come across as random to the receiver; after all they weren’t expecting it. But, for the provider, it should not be so random.
Nothing feels as good as when someone does something nice for you. They didn’t have to help you, but that person felt your need and gave you what they had. I often fantasize about going into a restaurant and leaving a waitress a hundred dollar tip. I know that extra money would make her day and reward her for doing a great job. (This, if you remember, is the reason for the tip) I, however, do not have that kind of money so that fantasy of kindness will have to wait. But nothing is written that says you can’t leave them a nice note with the check, or simply giving them a sincere thank you.
There are other ways someone can display an act of kindness. Helping a neighbor with their groceries, giving someone with a broken foot a ride, sending a handwritten letter to someone who has lost a loved one and other acts like that. They are so simple to do, and make a world of difference.
Personally, there was a time when I was stuck in the Ontario, California airport. My 6am flight was canceled because THEY FORGOT THE PLANE! No joke, they forgot it. A plane needs to go through hours of pre-flight checks and inspections. They forgot to line up an aircraft to act as the 6am flight and could not get the pre-flight checks done in time. (I would also like to thank the chatty airline worker at the gate for telling me all this) I had the option to jump on another flight fifteen minutes later, but not everyone could get on. I chose to give up my seat to someone else who might need it more. And I did it again on the next flight and the next. I was not in a rush to get home, so why not give someone else a chance? I believe I let a total of five or six flights go and waited an extra eight hours. But I felt good knowing that I was able to help five or six people, even though they did not know it was me.
I never knew if it helped anyone but I think I made a few people smile providing Free Hugs on Fridays. It was called Free Hugs Fridays and every Friday I would wear a shirt that read “Free Hugs Today”. The premise was simple, if you want a hug at no charge, I would be willing to give it to you. I took the act on the road from Columbus, Ohio to Pasadena, California and I gave out a lot of hugs. Yes, there were a few drunk guys at Steak n Shake at 2am and a homeless guy that smelled like rotten meat, but everyone got the same hugs. What really made my day was when I was walking down Colorado Blvd in Pasadena and the door greeter at this really upscale restaurant yelled inside “The free hugs guy is here!” and one at a time the entire wait-staff came out for their hugs. I guess word about me had gotten around.
I ask everyone reading this to open their eyes, ears and heart and start thinking about what they can do to show Christ’s love. Anything you can do to make someone smile or feel good. It doesn’t have to be anything grand, just a simple act of kindness.