Todd Durrant’s Random Thoughts
Follow the efforts of a creative, crazed entrepreneur.

I Like People, Especially the Good Ones

Changing the subject a little in an effort to conform more to the title of “Random Thoughts”, I thought I’d write a little bit today about the fact that generally speaking, I like people.   Sure, there are a few people out there who seem to do whatever they can not to be liked…yes, there are “bad” people.   But let’s not focus on those folks right now, except to hope that they eventually figure out that the rest of us vastly prefer “good people”.   What do I mean by saying that somebody is good?   I believe that there is a factor by which we all (either consciously or unconsciously) measure the goodness of a person, and that is the level to which that person cares more about other people rather then focusing only on their own self interests.

We indeed need to focus a great deal of our time worrying about our own situations in life.  We have health challenges, or we have financial concerns (by that, I mean we need to eat and have shelter over our heads, not the kinds of financial concerns that would include deciding whether to sell the holiday beach house in Jamaica or the penthouse in Manhattan), and those concerns and needs require that we think of ourselves.   But you will find that there are people who, no matter what personal challenges they currently face, find time to think about others.  In fact, they live their own lives in such a way that their own “self-interest” becomes synonymous with a concern about the well-being of everybody around them.  They aren’t happy unless the people around them are happy.  Yes, I like those people!  Who wouldn’t?

Yesterday I took a moment of reflection to look back at my week and think of such people with whom I had simply crossed paths.  There are many, but I’ll mention a few.   My family went to a picnic in the park to celebrate the end of the school year for employees of the school district in which my wife works part time.    Hundreds of people attend and there are hamburgers and hot dogs for everybody, and families with children are milling all over the place, playing little games, etc.   I don’t know a lot of these people personally, but it’s still fun to be around such a crowd.   As I was moving along the hamburger line by the hot grills, I came across a neighbor of mine.  He was covered in that layer of grease that covers any busy burger-flipper, skin glistening in the sun, but with a big smile on his face.   I said hello and teased him for “getting stuck with the job”.  There were a dozen other men and women cooking as well, happily plopping meat onto our buns.   Well, technically he didn’t “get stuck with the job”.   He knew somebody had to do it, so he volunteered.   The sign-up sheet had been passed around and he put his name on it.   So, his party time was spent cooking up burgers for the rest of us.

After eating, I wandered with my kids over to the lines of children waiting for their turns to play games, like the traditional fishing pond, or ring toss, etc.  There was another one of my neighbors, smiling and cheering for each child that tossed a ring at a target, no matter how badly they missed.  She was probably starting into her second hour of standing there handing kids their rings, but she was still cheerful and helping those kids have fun.   No big deal, really, but it was making a difference.  Good person!

Twice this week the town in which I live experienced some heavy thunderstorms.   We usually get some spring showers, but these were real downpours and caused a couple of local canals to overflow.   One home had it’s basement filled with nine feet of water because the over-flow from a canal pointed directly to their basement window wells.  They lost everything in the basement.   There were instantly dozens of neighbors helping to clean up the mess and sandbag the canal.   I was not one of those people because I didn’t know about the problem until the next day and things had been cleaned up.   But just yesterday another shot of rain came by and word was spread that the city fire department was needing to do some sand-bagging again.  I grabbed my two boys and we want to the place where the bags were being filled.   I instantly spotted several of my neighbors, and in less than an hour there were enough bags to do the job.  Everybody left with a smile, hoping that the minimal effort had diverted any other would-be problems.   All it took was a brief mention that the rain was causing problems and there were dozens of people dropping whatever they had planned that afternoon to help.  It was inspiring.  I like people.

I thought of the mornings that I go play basketball for a little exercise.  I’ve been doing this for a little over a year, getting up early on Tuesdays and Thursdays to play in the gym of a local church building with a bunch of guys, most of whom have been doing it for longer than I have.  In fact, I’m not a very good basketball player, but I do enjoy playing.   The teams are different every time and even change up a couple of times during the morning session.   No matter what the teams, I’m usually matched up to defend (and be defended by) somebody who is slower or older than the rest of us, simply because I too am on the older and slower side of the spectrum.   But sometimes those teams don’t match up as well and I have to defend somebody who can run circles around me.  I had to defend one of my friends the other day who can pretty much do whatever he wants on the floor, since he’s been playing every morning for so many years.  “Get ready for some hard fouls,” I told him jokingly, knowing that the only way I was going to keep him from making any basket he wished was to hack him every time he touched the ball.

Well, the game went on, and it was fun.  Sure, he scored some shots, but not more than usual.  He certainly didn’t take advantage of my lack of speed to run past me every time he got the ball.   He passed the ball around, only took shots where I left him too open, and yes, laughed when I fouled him and said “good foul” once or twice.   Then, on the other end of the court, he backed off a couple of feet from me to give me space to move, and the couple of shots I launched into the air he would yell, “count it!” just before the ball barely nicked the rim and fell hopelessly into the waiting throngs of rebounders.    It was a fun game as usual.  I don’t mind matching up with guys who play much better than I do, but I couldn’t help but think, “I like this guy.”   He wasn’t as concerned about taking advantage of the mismatch as he was in making sure we were both having fun.

Then there are the twitter tweeters and the Facebook posters who throw encouraging words, inspiring quotes, and even funny comic relief out there for the rest of us.  I use an application for Firefox called “Friendbar” that scrolls those Facebook and Twitter comments across my browser while I’m working.  I enjoy seeing those things come across that brighten my day.   I’m not as interested in knowing when somebody is taking their coffee break or when they say, “I’m sitting here bored, what should I do?”   I prefer those little tweets that share a good joke or point out a silly situation, etc. that remind me there are good people out there, and a lot of them!   I feel like I’m in touch with more people than ever before, and I’m seeing that I really do like people.   People can be silly, quirky, or even downright strange, but that’s OK.  I like them anyway!

We can all have vastly different political views.  We can have different spiritual beliefs.  We can practice our faith or our business in different ways, but I for one hope to look more for the good in people.    Usually when I look, I can see it.  Some people are more thoughtful and friendly than others.  Some people give more of themselves to others.   I hope that by watching those particularly good people and reaching out to say “thanks” more often, I can learn to become one of them.

Thanks people!  I appreciate it!

-Todd

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2 Responses to “I Like People, Especially the Good Ones”

  1. So can I just call out another “good person?” We were out on Friday night in a park with our baby. It had been warm earlier in the week and I had dressed the baby accordingly. Except that night the winds picked up and it was actually getting quite cool. We had a blanket in the car and were planning to go get it for her. But before we made the trip, a cute little lady named Pam Squires came over. She said, “I know it’s none of my business, but I’m worried about your baby.” She then told me she had a blanket and wondered if we might use it to keep the baby warm. My husband started to say that we had the blanket in the car, but I just thought how wonderful that this lady wanted to help, and I was so honored to accept it! So we wrapped our little one up in the blanket of a good, caring stranger. After the event was over, she came up to retrieve the blanket. She mentioned she’d been cold, but that she was happy to have shared the blanket to keep the baby warm. Aren’t people awesome!?!

  2. Here’s to good people, indeed! Right after my brain injury, I would go out for walks looking just a slight cut better than your basic homeless guy, and when I would have an issue — usually a mad, deranged shaking of my head — and have to lie down in the middle of the sidewalk, people would not avoid me or step around me. They would come right up and offer to help me. God, that felt so good. Thank you awesome people!

    Jeff


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