Archive | September, 2013

Random Acts of Kindness or Who Peed In Your Cocoa Puffs?

25 Sep

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In case you missed it, I was recently in the Philadelphia on business. In keeping with the spirit of The City of Brotherly Love, I decided to do a random act of kindness each day i wads there. Read part one at It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Friday – Day 4

Today was a challenge for my random act of kindness commitment. I believe it’s because I was so busy taking care of the people I was being paid to take care of that I kept overlooking other opportunities. I’m not happy about this but vow to do better in the future..

Luckily, one of the people I was being paid to take care of decided to do her own RAoK which I witnessed. You see, we took our group out for a fancy dinner. Despite having 8:30 reservations, the restaurant thought it just fine to seat our group at various tables as they became available, with the first seated at 9:00 and the last seated at 9:30. This was one of those ‘we’re really cool and you’re just lucky we let you in’ restaurants.

After most finished and began gathering outside, we were assisting them with working out plan for the rest of their night when Ashley, one of our guests ran back inside as she had forgotten the ‘Doggie Bag’ she had asked for her leftovers to be packed in (I’m sure this snobby restaurant loved this). When she exited with the bag, she walked over to the homeless man sitting at the corner and offered it to him, which he gratefully accepted. When she explained that it was filet mignon and lobster, his face lit up like a child trying his first taste of sugar. He thanked her over and over. She went back to him a few minutes later and gave him some money to buy a drink to wash it down with.

Myself and much of the group witnessed this RAoK and, it not only made the man’s day, it made our day. One RAoK can cheer many people.

Saturday – Day 5

I decide to concentrate on completing today’s random act of kindness early to be sure I actually get it done. I’m was a bit concerned that I might complete it and then have another opportunity present later. It turns out there’s no rule against doing more than one RAoK per day. With my mind at ease, I start looking for opportunities.

I start working early and, at about 10:00am have a chance to take a break. I choose to walk around the streets of Philadelphia and enjoy some sunshine and people watching. As I stroll through the Arts District I seemed to forget that I’m no longer working for Disney and am not required to smile and greet each and every person. I begin to feel as if downtown Philly may have run out of coffee as most people respond to my friendly greeting by averting their eyes as if I’ve escaped from a zombie movie. I know this look as this is exactly how I am before I’ve had my morning cup of joy. Whether it’s a coffee shortage or people are scared of me I’m not sure, but I decid to tone down the cheer. That is, until I come upon a convenience store and the RAoK lightbulb lights up. I wander in and come upon a rack of Pepperidge Farm Cookies. Who doesn’t feel special when eating these fancy cookies that seem as if you should be eating them while drinking a cup of tea out of fine china with your pinky finger sticking up (I’m pretty sure Queen Elizabeth serves these)? As I have no tea, I decide to go for the least fancy of the Pepperidge Farm Cookies, the chocolate chip macadamia ones.

After my purchase I walk back down the street greeting people (apparently you can take the girl out of Disney but you can’t take Disney out of the girl) and offering cookies. The first man I come upon had a cup of coffee but appears to not have a home. I ask if he would like a cookie to go with his coffee and he smiles and gratefully says yes. I offer cookies to a couple of others who politely declined (apparently I’m not the only one who isn’t eating sugar these days). The man sitting on the steps of a church listening to music decides to partake as do some others I pass. Still, many politely decline.

Soon I come upon the man I will call Mr. Nasty. Mr. Nasty is standing on the corner waiting for the light to change. I approach him and tell him that today is my random act of kindness day and offer a delicious cookie. The man gives an abrupt, “No,” and then continues on to say, “furthermore, this is not an act of kindness and you need to do better!” I’m stunned. I stand there with my mouth open deciding what to respond. I can’t let him bring me down that easily. As I begin to cross the street in the other direction I respond, “Have a nice day!” As I continue walking away he proceeds to yell at me. I can’t even remember what he said as I’m so stunned and upset by this that his exact words don’t register. I admit to losing my good attitude and yelling back at him that, indeed, “There is evil in the world.” I find it slightly ironic that this was World Peace Day.

I continue on, attempting to give away more cookies. One or two more people accept while most politely decline. I return to the hotel and give the remainder of my cookies to my coworkers and my favorite front desk agent who are very appreciative.

While I understand that, despite my curly, red hair and honest face, some people might have concerns about accepting food from strangers, and I have no problem when they politely declined, I was truly was shocked by Mr. DI. Apparently you can only distribute cookies if you charge for them and wear a ridiculous green dress with a sash.

Sunday – Day 6

Today is my final day in The City of Brotherly Love. The beautiful Hotel Palomar, which has been my home away from home, is part of the Kimpton chain. As I joined their club (I feel like one of the cool kids in the cafeteria), they gave me a $10 credit to “invade the minibar.” Due to my never-ending work schedule I was rarely in my room and hadn’t taken advantage of my gift. This morning I sift through the options and find a bag of individually wrapped Snickers bars for the low, low price of $10. Score! I grab the bag and head down to work.

This being departure day for my group, I spend most of the morning in front of the hotel getting them in cars to take them to the airport or their homes. While standing at the entrance I decide to distribute my Snickers bars to the hard-working bellmen and doormen before going and offering the final pieces to the front desk crew.

This brings to an end my concentrated week of Random Acts of Kindness. I’ve learned a few things:

First, many people will not accept food from strangers, even if they’re the fancy kind presented to you by an honest-looking redhead. Still, there are polite ways of refusing.

Second, one flower (or some chocolate) can truly brighten someone’s day.

Third, this was more challenging than I anticipated. I truly thought that since I try to do random good deeds when the opportunity strikes, committing to doing them on a daily basis wouldn’t be a big deal. I was wrong. And while I may not do them daily, hopefully this has made me more aware of the opportunities to brighten someone’s day.

Lastly, people are sometimes hesitant to accept that a random act of kindness is just that. No catches, no strings, simply kindness. After talking to a couple of friends about Mr. Nasty, they told me their stories of other people they knew who had experienced similar challenges when just trying to do something nice. When this happens, I can understand why people choose not to be kind for fear that someone will think there is an ulterior motive and therefore, treat them poorly. Be kind anyway. That is their problem, not yours.

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

23 Sep

Love Statue

This week I traveled to Philadelphia on business. My old business. After a call from an old client asking if I could help run the logistics of their incentive program, I decided to take them up on it. Is this the job I’m in search of because I’m passionate about it and feel that I’m truly making a contribution to the happiness of others? No. But, as I’m not doing much else, it would be irresponsible to not at least make some money when the opportunity arises. And besides, I’ll break my low-carb diet for a bite of a Philly Cheesesteak.

I’m here for six days and have decided that, in order to fill this need to make the world a better place, I will commit to performing one random act of kindness (RAoK) per day. After all, this is the ‘City of Brotherly Love.’

Tuesday – Day 1

I fly out today. I’m seated next to a man who doesn’t quite understand personal space. I have a rule – whoever is in the middle seat gets the armrest. The middle seat is such a terrible place to sit that I figure that person should at least have a place to put their arms. Still, do a person’s shoulders need to rest halfway into my seat so I’m forced to sit with my face plastered to the window like a bug smashed on a car windshield? I take pity on him and consider offering my seat to his wife who is stuck in the seat behind him as they couldn’t get two seats together. But two thoughts come to mind: 1) He or she may be quite happy with a little less togetherness and 2) That would put me in a middle seat. After considering this I feel certain I can find some other random act of kindness to do today.

I’m visiting my cousin for a day before moving over to my hotel to work. She has arranged for a car and driver to pick me up. Upon landing, I receive a voicemail from Phil, my driver, asking me to call when I have my luggage. I make my way down to baggage claim, grab my bag and give Phil a call. After a few minutes Phil and I make contact and we’re off. After what seems like hours (winding roads have me rolling down the window and trying to breathe like a dog on his first car-ride of the spring, so as not to lose the salad I had for breakfast – yeh, salad for breakfast, I know). When Phil announces that we’re ten minutes out, it’s time for my first act of kindness. On my way to baggage claim I stopped and bought a big, American sized bar of crappy American chocolate. I tell Phil about my ‘random acts of kindness’ mission this trip and hand him the candy bar. He seems truly touched.

*Note: When I call Phil later in the evening to arrange a ride for the next day, he informs me that his name is Steve, not Phil. Perhaps he would have been truly touched if I had gotten his name right.

Wednesday – Day 2

Today, while my cousin Adrienne was on a business call I went out for a run. I discovered that it’s important to know the address of the house you’re staying at as many houses look alike when you’re lost in your iPod. I’ve done this before in Barcelona. At least this time, I didn’t end up in the red light district. After lunch with Adrienne, Phil/Steve picks me up to take me to my hotel in the city. 911After checking in and making my way to my room, I decide it’s nap time. Apparently I’m mistaken. It’s evacuate the hotel time, as lights flash and a voice is blasted through my room telling me there is an emergency and I should not proceed to the nearest elevator but instead, hike down nine floors. Coincidentally I’m staying in room 911. I start wondering why nobody called me as that’s who you call in an emergency. After the ‘all clear’ I make my way back to my room realizing that I have not yet performed my random act of kindness yet. I find this disappointing as I thought this would just come naturally and I wouldn’t have to think about it.

I venture down to the hotel wine hour in the lobby as, well, free wine…must you ask? A little truffle popcorn to accompany it (yum) and I’m headed off to dinner. Still no RAoK.. Following dinner I take a walk through Rittenhouse Square where I come upon a bassist (the upright kind – always more impressive) and a trumpeter playing ‘Yesterday.’ I enjoy the music and drop some money in the bass case. Not very creative but appreciated I’m sure. I vow to do better tomorrow.

Thursday – Day 3

Today I arise not nearly refreshed after a long night of coughing (apologies to the person in the room next to me). I put on my happy face and head down to meet my client and co-workers for breakfast. Following that, we head up to a 45 minute meeting that lasts three hours. During small talk I mention my goal of doing one random act of kindness per day on this trip. There is silence. Everybody looks at me like I’ve just farted in the room. I had hoped to inspire them to perhaps join in but instead, they looked at me as if to say, “Uh, not sure about entrusting her assisting our very important clients.” I concentrate on not letting this ruin my morning or my resolve to brighten someone’s day.

Following our meeting we spend the remainder of the day visiting the venues to which we will take our various attendees. One place is Reading Terminal Market. After doing a quick walk-through of the place, we stop at an ice cream shop near the exit for what is supposedly the best ice cream in Philadelphia. Well, I should say that they stop as my co-worker and I don’t eat sugar. Directly across from the ice cream shop I notice a flower stand. I think I’ve just figured out today’s random act of kindness. I purchase a single pink daisy. My plan, to give it to someone who appears to be having a bad day.

Flower

I walk back across to the ice cream shop and, before my clients can ask what the hell I’m walking around with a flower for, I risk that, ‘you just farted look’ and explain. Not thirty seconds passes when one of my clients points to the lady behind the ice cream counter and says, “I think she’s having a bad day.” I eye her with a skeptical look as I’m not sure she understands that my goal is not to give it away quickly so I don’t have to lug it around with me, but to give it to someone who could just use a little pick-me-up. She tells me that she heard the lady telling her coworker something like, “Well, he’s going to have to call me and apologize ’cause I’m not calling him.” That gets me (ladies, haven’t we all been there?). I step up to the counter and get her attention. I hand her the flower telling her that I hope she has a nice day. She looks at me with surprise that looks nothing like the ‘you just farted look.’ She smiles and simply says, “No way!” My clients stand by, watching and smiling. As we walk down the street one client comments, “That was very spiritual of you.” I’m not sure this is the correct word to describe it, but I think it’s better than, “You just farted!”

Read part two at Random Acts of Kindness or Who Peed in Your Cocoa Puffs?

Sex and the Single Writer

16 Sep Writing-blogging-clipart

I know what you’re thinking. “Where has Carole gone? I’m going through a bit of snarky withdrawal.” I’m with you on that. Well, I’d love to say I was too busy traveling the world, doing crazy things and talking to strangers (never learned that lesson) to put my fingers on a keyboard. But that’s not the case. In reality, I’ve been lying low. Yes, there was a weekend trip to Las Vegas but, as we all know, what happens there stays there. I’m now preparing for a little business travel in my old line of work. Nowhere exotic (unless you consider Philadelphia and Chicago exotic), but it will keep me off the streets for now (at least in Arizona). And I’m sure I’ll find lots of amusing people and situations to share with you.

In the meantime, I thought you might be interested in why I write. It’s not something I do for fame – I’m not exactly a household name. . .yet. Fortune? Oh yes, rolling in the dough here. Writing this from my 21 room mansion with a bowling alley and airplane hangar (going airplane shopping as soon as I finish this). No, I write because I must. It’s like an unexplainable build-up that I must release. Yes, it sounds like an orgasm and well, perhaps it’s comparable.

First there’s the subject idea. When an idea hits it’s like seeing that guy across room. My heart flutters a bit and I lose track of my thoughts. Then there’s the research – traveling somewhere, talking to people or reading up on a subject. In comparison to sex, or the steps leading up to it, this would be the date. We meet for a drink and dinner to get to know each other. Sometimes, the research is already done, as reading something, having a chance encounter or traveling somewhere is what has inspired me. In the dating world, this would be considered slutty behavior and comparable to jumping in bed with someone.

Now that I’ve researched the subject, or spent a few weeks getting to know the guy, I am ready to do the dirty deed. It begins slowly – foreplay. I have notes, a few sentences or words that I know I want somewhere in the article. I start on an introductory paragraph – think of it as kissing. Before long, I am well involved in the words (ok, completely opposite of sex unless we’re tallkin’ dirty talk). Now I’m totally immersed in the writing and the ringing iPhone barely registers. Things become very organic and instinct takes over.

Finally, I come to the ending paragraph. But this is not the release. Not yet, anyway. I only read over what I have written after it is completed. You don’t stop in the middle of having sex to analyze whether it’s good or not. It’s only after, when the deed is done, that you lay there and take a deep breath and think, ‘that was amazing!’ This is the orgasm!

**Please note, sometimes I read through the article and think, ‘this is crap.’ This I do not publish. After all, bad sex is normally still pretty darn good whereas bad writing is just bad.

 

 

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