Tari's Ten Suggestions for a Nicer World
(Originally written and posted on the old diary, way back in June 2004...some of the comments involve election year stuff, which is, of course, totally apropos these days, too.)
1. Tip well. Working in any kind of tip-able service job sucks. If you get tips, you probably don't get much of a salary, and you probably have a lot of stupid rules to follow (i.e., wear a tuxedo, drive around with one of those dumb signs sticking out the top of your car, don't rifle through the pockets of the coats as you check them), so you're already set up to be surly and unaccomodating. On top of that, you usually get stuck with the worst hours imaginable. So, step into the shoes of this person you have the opportunity to tip - they carry your food, watch you coat, carry your luggage - basically, they have chances to do all kinds of evil little things to you, and if they're local, maybe repeated chances every time you visit or order from their establishment. So do yourself a favor - make their day, engender some happiness, and save yourself some "spit soup" - tip well.
2. Speak to people on the street. This means everybody from the homeless guy asking you for change to the college kid trying to pull down some extra buckage handing out breath mints on the sidewalk during rush hour. You don't have to engage them in conversation, but look them in the eye, say "no, thanks," or "I can't," or "I'm sorry" or something. They are people, they have spirits, and acknowledging that humanity, regardless of what state it's in, is a good way to bank some karma and bring a smile to someone's face.
3. Smile. Lots. If you're smiling, people around you will smile. You'd be surprised how a shared grin on a crowded elevator makes the ride so much shorter. Which brings me to...
4. Keep your sense of humor. When you're stuck in crowded elevators or hellish traffic or long lines or a doctor's office or a hospital gown with your ass on display to the world...laugh about it. Joke about it. There's very little in this world that laughter can't make better or easier to bear, and it's easier to be patient when you're amused by a situation instead of frustrated. The truism that "we'll all laugh about this someday" is absolutely true....but why wait till someday?
5. Carry breath mints. Or cough drops, or hard candy, or tic-tacs or whatever. Not only does this make it possible for you to always have fresh breath, but it provides something to do besides make conversation in those awkward situations we all find ourselves in on a daily basis - the elevator ride with someone you vaguely know, so it's impossible not to say *something*; the train ride where you notice your boss a seat or two down. If you have mints, you've got something to do.
6. Say thanks. To the guy who drops off your mail, to the lady who runs the train that takes you home at night, to the bus driver or waitress or desk clerk or cashier or whoever. Thank the people around you who contribute to your life, and they'll be more likely to contribute more often.
7. Pay attention. What's going on around you? Is there someone with their arms full, and getting the door for them would save them some agony? Does the guy ahead of you in line to pay need a penny to get a dollar back? Is there a mother with four kids who could use a hand with her stroller on the stairs? What can you do to make the day a little easier for the people in your immediate vicinity? If you're paying attention, you'll know.
8. Don't litter. I know this seems preachy and maybe just common sense, but you look around any city or town, and there's generally trash all over. It's gross. And seriously, how hard is it to just toss your trash in a trash can, or hold onto it until you're somewhere you can dispose of it properly? Not very. How much better would the world be if it was even just a litle cleaner?
9. Don't be afraid to fart in public. I mean this less specifically, but the point is to remember that we're all human. Certain things (like farting) are totally universal. Everybody does them, and everybody knows everybody does them. It's those common threads that hold us together when everything else is different. From punk rockers to the Religious Right, everybody eats, sleeps, and shits, and it would serve us all well to keep that in mind whenever we find ourselves speaking different languages.
10. Have your own opinion. And let other have theirs, too. By which I mean, think for yourself and allow for other people to do the same. Discover what you think about stuff, and I mean everything from your preferred toothpaste to the man/woman/animal/fictional character who's going to get your vote come November. If you've got the cajones to make choices there, you're much more likely to have the confidence to move through the world with grace....and if you can feel secure in your opinions enough to let other people have theirs, too....well shucks, we might all just survive another millenium without killing each other.
End sermon. Have a nice day!