Recently, I’ve found that we are so stressed amid all of the tumult and political noise bombarding us that many of us don’t take time to notice all of the good stuff happening right in front of us every day.
There are good things happening. I see them every day, and I spend a few minutes enjoying them. Yes, even with my broad sense of seriousness, I rarely allow random acts of kindness from wonderful people to escape me.
Don’t get me wrong; there is a lot of crap out there, too. Like the dummy who held up traffic leaving Baton Rouge's Mall of Louisiana as she sat through a light cycle in her car arguing with someone on her cellphone.
But here’s what I’m talking about:
Several weeks ago, I walked into a Baskin Robbins on Jefferson Highway in Baton Rouge. (Yeah, I know I shouldn’t be eating any of its 31 flavors.) I waited in line to order a pralines and cream shake. I eventually ordered a small because it was only about 750 calories.
A woman at the front of the line purchased her ice cream, then offered to pay for everyone else’s — but not mine.
One young man thanked her profusely and left. Another man nodded his thanks. After they had left, I walked up to the counter to make my order.
“Well, yours will be free," the clerk announced. "That lady bought everybody else’s, so yours should be free, too.” I told her I would pay because I wouldn’t want to be obligated in any way to that woman.
I could have considered the idea that the woman, who was white, had picked up the tab for only the white customers. I gave her the benefit of the doubt that she may have run out of money.
I tip my hat to the multi-colored hair clerk, who was white, who believed she was trying to right what she believed was a wrong. Thank you, young lady.
On another occasion, I was in the Oak Point Fresh Market parking lot in Central. I had just finished shopping and had put all of my bags in my car. I saw a number of empty carts that had been lined up neatly about 20 yards from me by a young store employee.
He looked over at me and start heading my way to retrieve my cart and a few others.
“Wait, wait,” I told him, holding up my hand like a traffic officer. Like the bothersome child in the class — Miss McKinley, my first grade teacher could tell you I was in contention for that every day — I was scheming something quite different.
I told him I wanted to see if I could shove my basket toward his lined-up carts and hit them right where he was standing.
The befuddled young man laughed a little, then backed away to allow me to fulfill my wish. One big shove, and off went my shopping cart, barreling toward the other carts. It slowed down just in time to gently nudge them. It was almost a perfect strike.
I got a kick out of it, and so did he. I smiled, and he smiled. He may have thought I was some strange, old dude. I don’t care. That exchange made my day.
And, finally, to “Mary8612” (her store ID number) at the Albertson’s grocery on Perkins Road where I drop in a lot of mornings on my way to work: I did fill out the survey that you asked me to complete. Your big smile was a welcome sight as I sleepily purchased my mixed fruit bowl and decaf coffee the other morning.
Even though I was extremely unhappy that I have to reduce my caffeine intake, you made that moment that I actually bought the “bag of no fun” somewhat enjoyable.
And, yes, I did write about how pleasant you were and how you stressed to me that you were smiling. Mary8612, I will feel a whole lot better if I win the $100 gift card for filling out the survey.
And if I win, I owe it all to taking the time to notice there are nice things and people all around us.
Email Edward Pratt, a former newspaperman who writes a weekly Advocate column, at firstname.lastname@example.org.