Starving for Social

I don’t like talking. Period. I typically keep my head down, literally and figuratively, when someone strikes up a conversation.

But as I was just walking around my neighborhood, a really nice woman hailed me from her front lawn. She struck up a conversation. And I was stuck.

I don’t even know what I said to her; it was all a blur.

All I can say was that it was a very pleasant conversation, and she was an extremely nice lady. I almost didn’t want to keep walking; she just had that air that she was someone I wanted to talk to.

That was probably my first conversation with a stranger since quarantine started.

And I needed it. And she probably needed it.

So, during this difficult time, remember that people need to feel less lonely. Even for a minute. So, even if you are a hardcore introvert like me, just try to be brave and say hello. Everyone’s isolated, but they don’t need to feel that way.



Friendly Reminder

This is your friendly reminder…to be friendly.

Yes, everyone out there is fighting a hard battle, and blah blah blah. But that’s not the most important reason to be nice to other people. Actually, why do you need a reason? This should be your default mode.

And you can come and tell me that you had a hard day, and life isn’t going the way you expect it to, and it was one time, but I’m going to reply: you had a choice. You always have a choice.

And don’t misunderstand me. When I say nice, I’m not referring to a doormat. I’m saying kind, generous, and friendly. Even when it’s hard to. Even when you’d rather not. Even when it’s not important.

Be a friend as often as possible. Because we all depend on each other.

Refusing Help

Two juxtaposing scenes that both happened to me today:

Two separate gentlemen (not conjoined twins) offered to give me their seat on the  train. Even when I refused vehemently, one of these men got up anyway. 

An older woman stopped me to ask where the “hilton” was but she didn’t know the street name or where it was exactly. In a humongous city. (It dawned on me waaay too late that I could have looked it up on my smart phone.) 

Two completely different situations. Two times I completely refused to be helped or (accidentally) refused to help. 

The moral of these two stories is the same though: let them and let yourself.

Let them help you. Sit in a seat when someone offers it to you in earnest. (Not any of that “let me offer this but not actually get up” shenanigans). 

And stop and let yourself help someone else. (especially if it’s an old lady. But don’t help someone who has bad vibes to you. You need to stay sexy and not get murdered, ok? Karen and Georgia from My Favorite Murder say so.) 

The point is that you should let yourself be helped and pay it forward sometimes. Don’t get too proud. Because the world needs more nice in it, and you definitely shouldn’t refuse it when it appears. 


Today, it was pointed out to me that I like to sugarcoat things. 

Like, oh, your house is on fire, but it’s not that bad! It’s just mostly singed. And at least you won’t have to pay your mortgage this month! 

And I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. I mean, who likes to tell people bad news? But I think my dislike of telling it like it is goes deeper. Because what if *gasp* people don’t like me if I tell them the cold naked truth? So…I don’t. And then what happens is that people feel good when they’ve left an interaction with me but they also haven’t gotten the whole picture. 

But I have to tell myself that people may not like you for a moment, but they’ll appreciate your truth in the long run. I mean, what if a newscaster sugar coated the news? We’re facing just a bit of a nuclear war crisis and just having a touch of global warming. But it’s not a big deal. Mars is habitable. 

Or what about doctors? I mean, it IS cancer, but think of it as an opportunity! You’ll get so many cool wigs!

The point is no matter who you are or what you do, you shouldn’t have to be worried that people won’t like you just because you need to tell them something they don’t want to hear. The best interactions in my life have been when people were brutally honest with me when I needed it. And I don’t mean being Simon Cowell honest. They just made me face facts. 

So, don’t overthink it, and lay off the sugar. People will appreciate you slimming down the truth. 

On the Nice List

There’s only a few things in this world that really grind my gears:

Wet socks

Not grabbing a towel before jumping into the shower

Mean people

And the first two things always happen in the same place, so at least I know to expect them.

But mean people? No, they come out of nowhere. Stamping their feet, rolling their eyes, acting like they’ve never met you before, even when you’ve addressed them from across the street (wait, those aren’t mean people. Those are just strangers. Nevermind.)

And somehow, mean people confuse niceness with weakness. As if kindness and compassion aren’t the hardest things to do when you’ve spent all day fuming at the “public” and wanting to bite everyone’s heads off, but resisting this temptationI mean, talk about earning a gold star. Being nice takes courage.

And assuredly, this is how I perceive the world. One kind act can erase 1,000 evil deeds.

So, tell me why I totally dodged a super nice cashier at Target today.

That’s right. I totally went in another lane because he was there. I know him. I’ve been in his lane before. And he is so nice. He comments appreciatively on your purchases and helps you with that stupid credit card chip technology. I once had to wait in his line while he finished having a really pleasant conversation with the person in front of me. Like, if he were a candy, well, he’d be all of them because he is just that sweet.

And I purposely avoided him. Why? Maybe because I just wanted to check out without making polite conversation. Maybe it was because I saw that another lane was moving faster?

But, no. That wasn’t it at all. It’s because he’s too nice. Which shouldn’t be a bad thing, ever. But suddenly, it is.

Do you know why? Because people are so rarely nice that I’m not sure I know what to do with it. I’m all, what’s your endgame? I know what you’re trying to do and it won’t work. And they’re all, “I was just trying to give you a recipe for spinach dip.” And I’m like, Oh, really? Do I look fat? Do you want me to eat healthier by eating spinach? Well, joke’s on you! Spinach dip isn’t really that healthy!

And the worst part is that I know it sounds crazy. But it’s true. Especially as a woman. I’m always just assuming that nice people are trying to put me in the back of their white van. And I love my dad, but he’s not Liam Neeson (even though he thinks he is), and he isn’t going to be able to get me back from the black market that they sell me to.

And truly,  I don’t know how to fix this avoidance of nice people in order to keep myself alive. I mean, it begs the questions: Should the world be more nice so I get used to it? Or should we stop being so suspicious of each other? Is being too nice a bad thing at the end of the day?

I’m not sure, but I wished I lived in a place where these weren’t actual questions.

I do hope that guy knows that he’s really good at his job, though. So good, it makes me uncomfortable.


Hello and Hey

I have not one, but two stories to tell you tonight. Keep in mind that both of these events happened over the course of one day (aka today) and both are true.

Here’s the first one:

There’s an older gentleman who runs in my neighborhood. I’m not sure how old he is specifically, but let’s say that he was probably able to vote for President Truman. (And in case you’re not likely to do the math, that’s pretty old.) Yet, I sometimes see him running twice a day and in every kind of weather. And he has time to say hello. Living in the time that we all do, I don’t always get a “hello” from anyone. Actually, I don’t even get the little wave when I let someone driving go before me. A “hello” is about as rare as finding a $20 bill in the mall parking lot. So, imagine my surprise when I’m going out to my car this morning, and I hear such a quiet, little “hello” from the man always running down my less than quiet street. I returned the “hello” and walked back in the house, grinning from the kind start to my day.

Here’s the second one:

I like to take walks with my mom at night. We walk a good distance through the neighborhood. We see a lot of people coming home, taking out the trash, turning on sprinklers. And we also see people speeding. We feel cars whiz by us, and the sidewalk always feels too narrow. But we make do, walking side by side, keeping away from the road. That is, until tonight, when some bro screamed “HEY” at us from his buddy’s car. I clutched my invisible pearls and jumped a little into the air. I looked up to glare at the passing car and heard both occupants chuckling as they sped away, gaining what, I don’t know, from scaring two women (as if men don’t do that all day, every day!). I was silently fuming the entire way home.

Now, as a reminder, both of these events happened in one day, today. One “Hello” and one “Hey.” But such different messages. One made me believe in karma and one made me wish for it.

For me, it’s hard to reconcile these events. How can people be so nice and so cruel in the same span of time?

And then I realized what I was confronted with: a physical embodiment of the human condition.

In short, there are going to be people who will go out of their way to be nice. And then there are going to be people who will think it’s funny to torture complete strangers. And sometimes, both reactions are going to come from the same person (although I would argue that what separates both people in this case is maturity).

But that’s what humans are. We’re this swirling mass of impulses, both good and bad. We have the I should say hello instinct, and we also have the let’s scream “hey” at these people instinct. One will always win out. Thankfully, both probably won’t win out in a single day in two different people, like they did to me. But maybe they’ll fight the same battle in you.

And as much as you can, try to feed the “hello” impulse. I, and your neighborhood, will thank you.

If You Have Something Nice to Say

You know when people say, “if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all”? Well, what do you do when you have something nice to say? Do we simply assume the opposite is true? Why are we encouraged to not say mean things, but nothing is said about nice things?

Well, in case you were wondering this like I was, I found out the answer today. Even though nice things can be rare because they are not emphasized, they still happen.

I was sitting in my car at a red light, like one does. There was a turning lane beside me, and I was driving straight. I was the second car in my line. Patiently waiting for my turn, I saw the green arrow come on for the turning lane. One car went, but the car that was even with me didn’t. I heard a couple of quick beeps, and I groaned inwardly and thought, why is everyone so impatient? The light just turned green! I looked over to see what was the hold up and saw a guy looking back at me. He had a backwards hat and a beard and I was about to groan a second time from some masculine comment when he gestured to his head and mouthed, “I love your earrings!” I laughed immediately and mouthed “thank you!” and gave him the thumbs up. He gave it back to me and drove off. And I chuckled the entire way to work.

Because of course he loved my earrings. They were in the shape of TARDISes from Doctor Who. Us Doctor Who fans are e v e r y w h e r e, and we are always nice to each other. Actually, nerds in general have some weird camaraderie thing, even when they’re complete strangers. Maybe because we can all relate to being shoved into lockers…

But at the same time, I recognize that he didn’t have to say anything. He didn’t have to hold up traffic. He didn’t have to take time out of his day. Actually, he completely ran the risk of me not looking over at him at all. And yet, he still took a stab at paying me a compliment. And it paid off. And made me grin a 3,000 watt smile.

So, I think we should put less emphasis on what we shouldn’t be saying (which is not nice things) and more emphasis on what we should be saying (nice things). (Maybe we should even emphasize gestures, like this guy.) Because there really isn’t anything better than a sincere compliment. And we don’t have to all have something common (like Doctor Who) to express our appreciation of someone else. Any little thing will do.

So, whether there is a person in line or in the car next to you, try to make their day a little better. I know this guy did that for me.

Two-Faced is Too Much

Is it considered mature to be nice to someone you don’t like or is it two-faced and disingenuous?

I would really like my readers to weigh in on this issue in the comments, but of course, you’re going to hear my perspective first. And maybe it will surprise you.

If you grew up female, you absolutely, positively knew one person in your school who “acted nice” in front of someone but tore them to pieces behind their back. And not to discriminate, because if you are a guy, you probably experienced this too. The difference is that you punched that guy in the face and got over it. Us girls, well. I like to say that we’re a bit more creative about our revenge.

Anyway, the person who would raise you up to your face and raze you to the ground in front of other people was generally not considered to be a trustworthy or kindly individual by others’ evaluations. And, undoubtedly, if you were this person, you were on a fast track to not having any friends very quickly if anyone found out about your, shall we say, double dipping. To put it simply, you were two-faced. And to put it in even simpler terms, that’s not cool.

But in adulthood, I think being two-faced is a way of life and a survival technique. And actually, I think it is a sign of maturity. Okay, being open and friendly to someone and then catty and jealous behind their back is not very mature. But I think being nice to someone that you don’t really care for is.

I mean, it happens all the time. The barista at Starbucks could be rude, a co-worker may rub you the wrong way, a family member that you don’t like could be coming over for dinner. Does it really make you less of a person for not flat-out telling them what a horrible person you think they are? Why does no one get points for courtesy anymore? Did “keeping the peace” die out with the Vietnam War?

And okay. I can see the other side, too. Life is too short to be fake to someone. You should be able to be yourself without having to conform to other people’s expectations. And who knows? Maybe your honesty will motivate someone to change their ways.

I mean, it sort of comes down to what you want people to say at your funeral. Oh, she was really, really nice. Like, that’s it? You were nice? No! You want them to say, Well, she could be a total b*tch sometimes, but she said what was on her mind, and she accomplished things. She owned the space that she had been given on this earth.

So, I don’t have an answer to my initial question, and I don’t know what the best policy is. All I know is that we’re faced with the decision to hide our feelings or be honest all of the time. I just feel that we should be able to express ourselves without having to be downright mean and without wearing a mask.

But what are your thoughts?