Friday, April 22, 2011

Notice The Somethings

I called my mom yesterday and asked, “Well, has springtime arrived in Wisconsin yet?”

She replied, “Oh yes, it has arrived; it’s forty-five degrees here today!” (You can tell that she is a true Wisconsin-ite.)

Mom went on to say that they’d just had a bad storm and most of the town’s electricity was knocked out. It took awhile for it to be restored and she heard that the power company got a whole lot of phone calls complaining about the delay.

“But,” she went on to add, “Debbie decided that she was going to do something different so she called the power company and thanked them for restoring the electricity. They appreciated her call so much but I’m not sure they quite knew what to do with it because they mostly just get complaints.”

Since having that conversation, I have thought quite a bit about what my sister did. And I also thought about the way most of us are wired in this regard:

  • If the French fries are cold, we complain.
  • If there aren’t enough registers open at the local Stuff Mart, we complain.
  • If the sanctuary is too hot (or too cold), we complain.
  • If the check out person makes a small mistake on our transaction (thereby delaying us 3.72 minutes while it’s fixed), we complain.
  • If the service is slow at a restaurant, we complain.
  • If we can’t find a clerk to help us in the shoe department, we complain.
  • If we’re put on hold for longer than 57 seconds, we complain.

I can imagine that it must be stressful to be a manager of just about anything when most of what they have to do deal with is negative feedback.

Now don’t get me wrong. If something really was done wrong or if an issue needs attention, I’m not saying we shouldn’t graciously speak up. However, I think it would be sort of fun to change the paradigm a bit and start to do more of what Debbie did.

  • Is the electricity finally restored after being out a couple hours? Call to say thank you.
  • Does the bus boy bring a new fork after you dropped yours on the floor—without being asked? Mention it.
  • Is the Post Office clerk extra patient when you ask fourteen questions about the cheapest way to send a package to Cincinnati? Tell his supervisor.
  • Does the teen running the cash register at McDonalds smile extra bright, compliment your hair and look you right in the eye when giving you your change? Tell her manager.
  • Does the person cleaning your office building keep the toilets extra clean? Comment on it.

Bottom line? If you’re like me, you probably just speak up when something is wrong. But think about all of the innumerable somethings that have been done right. Wouldn’t it be cool to make someone’s entire day and mention the somethings?

But before you do, be prepared for someone’s face to light up. Be prepared for someone’s eyes to brighten. Be prepared for worry lines to ease a bit. Be prepared for someone’s step to be a little lighter as they walk away. You might even need to be prepared for someone’s eyes to become suspiciously moist.

Because you know what?

We don’t know what unendurable burden the stocker in the cereal aisle is carrying. We can’t imagine the traumatic phone call the waitress at the diner just got. We can never know how very close to the “last straw” the manager at Walmart is.

To a person who is starved for attention, desperately lonely, or one step away from completely giving up, one kindness from one stranger could end up being the one thing that turns the tide for them. Once and for all.

Does that sound a bit dramatic? No, it’s not. At all.

So keep your eyes open. Speak up. Make a difference. Notice the somethings.


First of all, let me mention that I took all of your great comments concerning things to do on the Outer Banks and added them to this week’s earlier post called, “A Grumpy OBX-er.”

You can always find that post again later by going to the labels in the right column and clicking on “Manteo.” I’ve also added an Outer Banks tag to some of those relevant posts but for some reason, that’s not showing up . So you can just find all Outer Banks posts under Manteo.

Heidi said, “I wondered if you'd ever crossed paths with Nathan or Tricia from I check Nathans blog as well and I know he too is a minister and in the OBX area.

Heidi, Yes we have run into Nathan and his (pastor) dad a couple times at various functions and events around town. They are such a great family!

Janet said, I always enjoy your pictures--whether they be of your beautiful family, the scenic area you live in, or just something you thought was interesting. I am not a photographer--in fact I haven't even owned a camera since 35 mm cameras were "in". But I was wondering--what do you do with all of the "pictures". I think I read they are stored on memory cards (?), but how do you keep them organized? Say, six months from now, if you wanted to remember where the picture of Sarah on the beach with the green shirt was--how would you find it?

Janet, yes keeping pictures organized can be a bit of a challenge but I must say that it’s much easier to keep them organized in digital form, rather than printed form. (And yes I’ll admit it; I’m one of those people with shoe boxes full of old pictures!)

Different photographers all use different organizational methods but I mostly use a free download called Picasa Once it’s on your computer, you can very easily make virtual folders for all your pictures. For instance, the one you mentioned of Sarah on the beach would be in a folder (with the other ones I took that afternoon) called, “Sarah, beach.” (Catchy isn’t it?) And then if I want, ALL pictures I take of Sarah on the beach can put in that folder. The pictures are also organized by year and date too, so that makes the job a little easier.

The program also provides easy-to-use, basic editing which I really love.


And since I hate to leave you all picture-less at post’s end, here is a shot I took of my favorite girl.


Here she is during rehearsal for our Easter presentation.



And here’s a sneak preview of the first part of the resurrection scene.


It’s going to be a busy (but wonderful) weekend. Wishing you a blessed Resurrection Day!

14 Had Something To Say (Just click here!):

sharon holweger said...

I was a house keeper in a hospital for many year and did my best to keep things looking good and very clean and sanitary. I can count on my hands the times any one said anything nice. so I really try to go out of my way to compliment as many people as I can about things. It really does brighten the day and even more if you tell the boss. it helps on evaluations. it only takes a minute or less. there is always something you can find good to say to some one to make their day better.
Love all your posts Sherry, altho I seldom write and tell you so.

brooke r. said...

*nod* i agree. i don't do it as much as i should, but i try. i've never thought about calling the power company to thank them for when the power goes on.. i've actually learned to be more thankful living here in utah. these whacky mormons (that's a respectful whacky), even say thank you when they get off the bus! they tend to be a terribly respectful sort. i don't agree with all the mormon doctrine, and sometimes things can be difficult living in such a homogenous mormon place when i am this very liberal episcopalian, but their emphasis on serving to each other and kindness towards those who serve them is something i'm glad has worn off on me. imho, it's part of being on this christ following path i'm on, as well as the pacifist commitment i've made.

Karen in Hammond said...

I've been reading The Simple Wife, and noticed they haven't posted since last weekend, the 17th. I hope everything is ok over there. Have you heard anything?

Jan R. said...

I just read this book:

It goes perfect with this post!!

I have been working much harder on saying thank you then hollering when something doesn't go right. It's amazing the difference in people!!

Ericka said...

As a follow up to the question somebody asked about photo storage, I have 2 more questions:

How do you deal with the impermanence of electronic media? Do you print photos/blog entries so that your grandkids and great grandkids will still be able to see them even after CDs or thumb drives are no longer used?

I often worry about this. If we never print photos and online writings, there will never be boxes in the attic for our great grandkids to look through and I hate that. The electronic media will be lost as the ability to access each type of storage device dies, which tends to happen rapidly.

Anonymous said...

This is my new favorite blog post .
And Sarah is beautiful in the pictures.
Kim in TN

Linda R. said...

Easter Blessings Smiths! Have a wonderful day!

Love, hugs and ladybugs.....

Love Being A Nonny said...

Thank you for the reminder to thank others. I will make it a point to do so. Have a blessed week!

Michelle said...

I totally agree with what you just blogged about. Those little things that are done because they have to rarely ever get good compliments. I do think that the next time my power goes out and they restore it, I'm going to send them a email or call them.

Hope you have a great day :)


The Pennington Point said...

I love this! I try hard to spread cheer....and if you knew me you'd know how unnatural that is for me.

I will often tell a company how great they are doing and they are always stunned. You're right, people don't do enough of that! Lisa~

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