Blog from Tracy Butz, CSP
Since moving out to Colorado, I now see more individuals holding signs pleading for money or food, as they stand alongside a busy street or off ramp. I am guilty of thinking, “Does she really need money?” or “Why doesn’t he apply at one of the many establishments needing able bodies to join their team?” or “What will s/he really spend the money on if I choose to give?”
Recently, I was traveling for work, heading back to the airport in a rental car, somewhat hurried and looking forward to returning home. As I approached a stop light, an elderly man was holding a sign that read, “I’m an injured, retired vet looking for a little help.” What caught me off guard was his clean and orderly appearance, his combed hair and shaved face, yet a look of despair and sadness I couldn’t shake. Time seemed to simply stand still while waiting for a green light.
For the first time in several years, I opened my wallet and saw a twenty dollar bill. Without hesitation, I lowered my vehicle’s window, stretched out my hand and proceeded to hand him the bill. As he slowly accepted it, his eyes filled with tears and he said, “Thank you so very, very much. This money will help me more than you’ll ever know.” As the light turned green and I started to drive away, I heard, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
I obviously will never know this elderly man’s story of hardship. I’ll never find out what that small gift of money was used for, nor will I ever realize if he perseveres through it; however, there is one thing I’m confident of: he needed someone to step up and offer a kind gesture. Twenty dollars for many of us equates to 3-4 fast food lunches, gasoline or highway tolls for a few days, or several candy bars in a cup from Starbucks®. But a twenty dollar bill for this man clearly will stretch so much further.
Offer a sense of genuine “niceness” or a gift of kindness to someone today—like a simple smile or something more. Regardless of how you choose to express it, know that nice people are all around you. And by demonstrating simple acts of niceness, you can significantly elevate your sense of meaning and gratitude in life. Positive acts, when not demonstrated for reciprocity sake, usually offer profound positive effects, which inevitably actually lead to a reciprocal ripple effect. So be the one who “nicely” stands out in the crowd, towering high above the rest.