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Sometimes it’s the little things

In my office I have a small shelf near my desk where I have a few knick-knacks, a couple of coffee mugs, two funny journalism-related signs and some tea. Last week, I added something that has come to mean a lot to me, not so much for what it is but what it represents.

As I try to do a few days a week, especially when Mother Nature cooperates, I step away from the work computer and go for a walk downtown. As I made my way from Colorado Street to Utah Street, I passed the playground near the recreation center. There was a mom and two children, a little boy maybe 4 and a girl probably 3. As I walked by, the little girl came racing up to me and over the short concrete wall handed me an unopened pine cone. I’ve always liked them because they look like a Christmas tree, which is my favorite time of the year. I quickly said, “Thank you.” As she ran toward her mom, she shouted, “You’re welllllcoooome!”

As I continued my walk, I considered putting it on the ground once I was out of eye-shot from her. But I didn’t, as I really considered the gesture by a little girl, who didn’t know me, nor at that age could possibly know what it meant to me.

That’s why it now sits on my shelf.

To me, sometimes it’s the little things that mean the most and a simple act of kindness goes a long way. These days, sadly, it seems as though people are quick to give criticism and slow to give praise. I think social media plays a big part in that. People get keyboard courage, as I like to call it, and say things online that they would rarely say to a person’s face. I admit that I have been on both sending and receiving sides of that phenomenon.

My parents raised me and my brother and sister to be sure to say “thank you” and “you’re welcome.” In terms of thanking someone, sometimes I think I say it too much or maybe I feel that way because so many people don’t say it and I make up for where they lack. Those two simple little words can mean a lot when said and somewhat sting when they’re not.

There have been times where I have held the door for someone at a store or restaurant and when they don’t say “thank you” I will be sure to say “you’re welcome.” They’ll often give me a weird look, to which I’ve been known to say, “I just assumed you thanked me but I didn’t hear it.” I realize that’s a snarky response but hopefully they will remember it the next time someone holds a door for them.

I don’t know why something like that bugs me. Maybe it’s the same way when I let a motorist merge in front of me and I don’t get the wave. I go over the top when someone lets me merge to where I’m almost hanging halfway out the window waving to them and promising to send them a thank-you card and candy for doing so.

Let me preface these next few sentences by saying I’m not fishing for a compliment or anything else. But in my profession, receiving praise or a thank you is hit or miss. We don’t do it for the praise but, like anyone, it’s nice to hear, especially when we go above and beyond on a story. Yes, it’s our job and it’s what we get paid to do but we’re still human.

I think most of us know that this presidential election year is, and will continue to be the ugliest ever.

Again, social media plays a big part in that. That’s why it’s up to all of us in everyday life to do our part to be kind, bite our tongues, remove our fingers from the keyboard and hand someone a pine cone with the same kindness that little girl showed me.

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