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The Wright Perspective℠

Social Commentary from the C-Suite to Main Street℠

A Blog by Gary Wright II

How being nice can change the world!

Monday, April 5th, 2010

Is chivalry dead? After writing my People Are Getting Meaner blog, I did a social experiment to see if the problem of being mean is just on the Internet, or if it had become widespread through society. A quick trip to Wal-Mart proved that at least Southern Hospitality is still alive.

It started when I was browsing through the craft department. A nice lady came up to me and started telling me all about her knitting projects. I then purchased a single large item (a big bag of cat food) and I headed for the checkouts. The lady ahead of me had a whole basket full of items. Even though I assured her that I wasn't in a hurry, she still insisted that I go ahead of her in line. When I finished paying, there was an elderly man who came up behind us and offered to help me with my heavy bag [I use a wheelchair]. Nice people = 3 / Meanies = 0, so it seems like people are mostly still nice in person. It must just be a problem on the Internet.

People who are mean their whole life usually die with a dour expression permanently etched across their face. Whenever you are "mean-mugging" you won't get much interaction with other people. If you smile, people will usually smile back at you. Best of all, a smile is free so use them abundantly!

Sometimes you can show a single act of kindness that just might change lives - if not make the entire world a better place!

Every Sunday, Brandon and I would take a break and go for ice cream at the Dairy Queen on Lawrenceville Highway. On one occasion, I was trying to make up my mind which Blizzard to order when a grandmother with three little boys walked in behind us. She had a face that was weather-worn, but very dignified. Her arthritic hands had worked hard throughout her life and she reminded me a lot of the civil rights activist Mary McCleod Bethune. The three boys were probably aged seven to eleven and for their good behaviour, grandma was taking them out for a treat. They only had a few dollars, and they had to split it between the three of them (grandma was going to go without a treat). The boys would name something on the menu they wanted, and she would have to say, "Now boys, you don't have enough money for that..." She looked completely exhausted.

You can't buy anything good for what little money they had, so I slipped the store owner my corporate AmEx and told him I would pay for anything that the family wanted to buy. The store owner looked at me in complete disbelief, and then asked me if I was serious. I said yes, and then his eyes narrowed at me. After a brief pause, he quickly marched off to see if my credit card was stolen. When I told the family to please order whatever they wanted, the grandmother looked at me like it was some kind of trick. She then looked at the store owner, who nodded to her that it was indeed okay. The ice cream tasted awesome that day. I'm not sure what touched me more - the smiles of the boys or the tears that grandma tried to hide from me. Either way, it was the best $20 I have ever spent!

One day the radio host Tuesday Miles changed my life: When the VA made an error with my pension, they snatched $53,000 away from me. To make things worse, I was already bankrupt after paying for all of my medical bills. Despite receiving a huge government bailout the previous week, my mortgage company foreclosed on my house. I was going to be homeless, and after doing everything I could think of, I had lost all hope. My phone rings and it is Tuesday Miles. She had taken time out of her busy day to research my situation and she just started flooding me with all of these new ideas. I wasn't able to save my home, but her random act of kindness gave me hope at a time when I had none left. I will always love and remember her for that, and there are no words to express my gratitude for a complete stranger stepping up to help me.

Try doing a few random acts of kindness - especially during these tough times. It just might change your life. It just might change the world!

Best regards,

-- Gary Wright II

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