I love thoughtful people.
To me, it’s one of the best qualities a person can have, so it’s not surprising that most of my favorite people are very considerate.
My idea of thoughtfulness goes well beyond the usual stuff. It’s a given that you should consistently do the remedial stuff: pick up after yourself, say please and thank you, hold doors open for people, remember and acknowledge people’s birthdays (especially people you love), never miss Mother’s Day or Father’s Day (not only because it’s inexcusable but it’s also disrespectful to those who’ve lost a parent and don’t have the utter luxury of celebrating it).
These are absolute-no-brainer-givens, among a multitude of other non-negotiables (like not interrupting people when they’re talking—even if you’re certain your story is better or more exciting. Life isn’t a contest to land on the best version of every story ever told, so be thoughtful and let people talk).
But there are many other—perhaps more creative—ways of being thoughtful.
1. When you cross the road in front of Target, cross it in a straight line. For the love of all that is good and right in this world, do not make cars wait as you saunter across at an angle. This involves such simple math that even I understand it—the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Cars are waiting on you. I’m waiting on you. And now I’m doing angry geometry in my head. Your walking angle is thoughtless. Given the extra time I have on my hands, I’m deducing a few things about you as I wait.
- You think it’s your world and we’re all just passing through.
- You are controlling (just because you can make people wait, lest they plow you over, doesn’t mean you should).
- You are passive-aggressive, long winded, inefficient and take the circuitous route to tell the simplest of stories.
- You and I cannot be friends.
2. Be less descriptive when ordering at Subway. Professor Detail, look behind you. There is a line of people—likely on their short lunch break—trying to get in and out with a turkey melt on flatbread. Here is the interesting thing … if you want most of the veggies, you really don’t need to list them all with the addition of an adjective.
“Purple onions, black olives, green peppers.”
While colorful, three of those words are unnecessary. In fact, if you want 3/4 or more of the veggies, just say, “Everything but onions and olives” because again, we’re not just passing through your world; we’re actually hungry and on a schedule, too.
3. Don’t bring Whataburger into an area where people might be hungry. There are two known camps out there—one faction thinks Whataburger smells like a steam room of construction workers and the other thinks it smells like Heaven on a platter. Personally, I’d scale every wall to get to it—even if I’m not remotely hungry—but that is neither here nor there.
With one inconsiderate move, you’ll upset everyone—the ones with the sensitive noses, the ones trying to diet and the ones who already ate at Subway and are unable to rewind time and make a more scrumptious decision. You can’t win with that thoughtless move, so please eat your Whataburger somewhere void of humans.
4. If I let you and your car in front of me, I really, really need a quick wave from you. Whether it was a logical allowance or I had to go out of my way—and risk making people behind me mad—you’ve got to offer a quick wave of acknowledgment. It’s an extremely simple gesture that goes a long way. When you don’t recognize that kindness in any way, I’m forced to think terrible thoughts about you and your stupid car.
Side Note: The best of the best? When someone lets me in and I wave and they wave back! That’s some sweet harmonious living that gives me chills every time.
5. Paging all drivers who make wide turns. Please take some time and familiarize yourself with your car and get a handle on your turning radius. The two of you can practice together in an empty parking lot somewhere after dinner. And for the love of mankind, if you’re in a little nugget car like a Ford Focus, you never, ever need to take anything wide. Period. No, ssshhh, you don’t—please stop talking.
6. Retail associates … if I track you down and say, “Hey, do you know if you have water bottle filters?” please—I BEG YOU—don’t get a confused look on your face and start guessing. Please don’t say, “Well, if we did, hmm, they’d be over here in the water bottle section.”
The simple phrase “if we did” makes me want to challenge you to a chicken fight, pin you down after I win and explain in hushed, aggressive whispers that I know the basics of store arrangement and I’ve looked on all logical aisles and don’t need your patronizing head-scratching guesses.
By no means do I expect every associate to know where every miniscule item is. What I do expect and yearn for—across the board in all of life—is for people to just say, “Actually, I’m not sure. Let me find someone who knows.” Not wasting people’s time is super thoughtful.
Lastly, if we’re out to dinner and I say, “Backhand me if you see me reaching for another bite” … that literally means BACKHAND ME IF I TRY TO TAKE ANOTHER BITE. I wouldn’t have laid down the edict if I wasn’t ready for the fallout. Please be thoughtful and do as you’re asked.
I’d love for you to join me on Facebook … it’s good for your health.