The following is inspired by Film School Rejects‘ blog post, “Why Josh Olson is an Asshole.”
I think being polite, doing favors, and helping others are rare commodities in today’s society. It’s definitely not limited to celebrity types or people in high profile jobs. Nope, rudeness and selfishness are rising epidemics, in my humble opinion.
An example: last Christmas, I walked out of a department store into 20 degree temperatures and a heavy windstorm. As luck would have it, one of my shopping bags blew out of my hand. The contents spilled onto the pavement and the empty bag continued blowing further and further away. Forgive me Earth for not carrying my resusable bags at the time.
Smack dab in front of the store’s entrance, in the middle of traffic with my hands full, I attempted to pick up the bag’s contents–one of my daughter’s gifts–but then I started to drop all the other bags. I kid you not, at least 30 people walked by me. Not one person stopped to help. Even better, one dude watched the whole incident from beginning to end and never moved a muscle to assist me. WTF?!?
Being the badass that I am, I wrangled those bags with my Samsonesque strength, I squinted hard to see through the cyclone of hair, and I stumbled my way to the car as fast as the wind would push me. However, once in the warm, windless safety of my car, I realized I looked like I’d been raped by a tornado and I felt almost as traumatized.
Yeah, yeah, I know. Dropping my bags and not one person helping me aren’t the end of the world. I know a lot of people, including myself, suffer worse on a regular basis. But, it seriously traumatized me. Since then it’s been really hard for me to look at people the same. I examine everyone and everything around me, and over and over again I see repeated acts of rudeness, selfishness, and total disregard for other people.
If the situation were reversed, I would feel like such an ass if I didn’t have the common decency to help that person in whatever way I could. I feel it’s the least I can do to hold a door open for the person behind me or to pick up the penny the old lady in front of me dropped but can’t seem to reach or to answer the question, “How did you get started in virtual assistance,” for the 1,000th time; basically, to treat other people how I want to be treated.
I have issues with people so I might be torn between chasing after the plastic bag or helping the person who dropped their stuff. Help the Earth? Or help the human? It’s a difficult decision when one is destroying the other. But, at least I would choose action not apathy. [If you’re new to my blog and my sense of humor, please let me express that I most definitely would help a person before an inanimate object like a plastic bag, but sometimes, people really disappoint me.]
So mainly, I focus on the polite and caring people I know. They do exist. You just have to look a little longer and a little harder to spot them in the crowd. I don’t watch the news and I don’t read the newspaper. The only media I’m interested in is the one with the best coverage of movies, music and books. And if I’m looking for something about politics or charitable causes or what not, I go directly to the source. I work from home and some days I can almost forget that my tiny little world isn’t actually representative of the real world 🙂 Most days I just don’t give a crap if I’m living in the “real” world. Life’s too short to get hung up on technicalities like reality.
The bottom line is, helping people isn’t always easy. It isn’t always fun and it most certainly takes time away from whatever it is you are doing when presented with the opportunity to help another person. Thus, helping loses its appeal for the majority. Anything that requires sacrifice deters most people. But it is so worth the sacrifice to see another person’s spirits lifted by your simple gesture. I get surprised looks a lot, which makes me a little sad, but for the most part, I get a big smile, and sometimes even a “Thank you.” Whether they’re standing in front of you or they’re thousands of miles away, it just plain feels good to help people.
You’re never too famous or too important or too legally bound to do a favor or help unless you want to be. Some people are simply more selfish than others, but they can’t admit it to themselves, so they justify their choices like crazy. Justifying something is a little too close to making excuses for my tastes.
Personally, I support “pay it forward,” and I wholeheartedly appreciate every single person who does also. Helping another person means you truly care about humanity. Why does it mean that? Because, when you help another person, you are taking action without expecting to gain anything in return for your assistance. You aren’t sitting comfortably at your Starbucks table, sippin’ on your favorite liquid caffeine, watching a frantic soccer mom search for her missing money, and daydreaming over how embarrassing that situation must be. Nope, not you. You care, remember? So you give the woman the few dollars she needs to get her latte fix and you go about your day.
Wouldn’t you want someone to help you or one of your loved ones? Well then, don’t wait for the day when you need help to start helping others. Start now. It’s always better to be proactive with your giving and helping.