Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Spring Break Dance

It is now three days after the end of Oregon Spring Break (all public schools get out the same week here - it makes sense), and I have to admit that this post is NOT the one I originally thought I’d write.  Oh, some of Spring Break was the same as ever - I am recovering from a cold (traditional, caused by continued contact with people after a winter of virtually no contact).  We made enough at the ice cream parlor to show a profit for what is normally a slow month.  And there was evidence of the “bad behavior” that Spring Break around here is known for - we’ve had more of our share of incidents (never call them riots) with heightened police action, broken windows, etc. 

The picture is from a Spring Break back in the sixties, and it shows some of the “water sports” the kids had with local officials.  Fun times!  Of course, today they are closing one of the bridges to downtown so they can fish a Mitsubishi SUV from the bottom of the Necanicum River.  Drunk driver, of course.  So some things never change.

And this wasn’t the only bad behavior I saw, and it’s not what I intended to write about.  The bad behavior I witnesses was what some see as “no harm done” stuff - more bad manners than bad behavior.  But really, both start with the same “self absorbed” attitude that causes people to do things that they may very well castigate others if someone else did them, but “they” had a “good reason” - or some shit like that.

Littering.  Tossing your kids diapers under the car parked next to you.  Cutting in line.  Letting your kids crayon on the walls…in the store…while you are holding them.  Really. Stuff like that.  I am not certain why people do stuff here that they’d never do at home, and then, I sincerely wonder IF they actually DO these things at home. 

Some people are just not right, and do not understand how their actions affect others.  Some do not care how their actions affect others.  I am not certain which is worse, or if there is any difference.  Because I no longer care about these people, in that I will not let them ruin my life.

I care more about people who DO care about how their actions affect others, and occasionally go out of their way to show it.  While all sorts of bad behavior occurred during Spring Break, so did this:

At about 6pm on a rainy evening, a family came in to buy ice cream. While they were considering their purchase, a man came in and stood behind them, waiting.  The family let him go ahead of them, and he bought three pints. As he paid, he tossed some money on the counter and said, "Pay it forward - take the change and pay for their (the family's) ice cream."  And so we did. Or tried to...when the Mom found out what he had done, she ALSO tossed money on the counter and said, "Keep it going."  And so we kept it going.  Not everyone participated - some just paid for their own ice cream, some just said, "thanks," but maybe 70-80% of all of the night's customers "paid it forward!"  We finally ran out of the Pay-It-Forward fund just before closing time.  But we enjoyed almost two straight hours of strangers being nice to strangers.

I wrote about this on the store’s Facebook page and again in our monthly newsletter.  I was that taken by what happened.  I’ve been part of a “pay it forward” event before, as a participant (coffee drive in, so it was kind of faceless).  This is the first time it’s happened at the store, and I was touched.

Touched, because if I thought about the previous week when so much bad behavior occurred, I would not thought it possible, and certainly not by those who came in that fateful evening.  For they looked just like the folks who littered, cut in line, and allowed their kids to deface others’ property.

Y’know, just like normal people.

That’s all it takes to deal with the problems of life - normal people - coming together - acting for themselves AND for each other, to benefit not just themselves but others as well.  There are lots of names for this, I’m sure.  Human Kindness.  Empathy for others.  And so on.  Call it what you will.  And whatever you call it, know that it’s not just good for others, as this article shows that acting good for others causes good for yourself. 

So do more of it.  Well, you are, actually.

And what does this have to do with the current battle to legalize online poker, since I did tag the post that way?  A great deal (see highlighted sentence above), and we’ll discuss that in the next post.

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