A Little Help Goes A Long Way

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a nice start.

Today I’m headed back to work after a nearly three-month hiatus. I feel like a little kid standing on the front porch, getting ready to go to school for the very first time. Except I’m going back to the same place I worked just a few months ago, so I guess it’s like the first day of school after a summer vacation. If it were summer. And a vacation. But you get the point.

Life is changing for everybody right now. I’m probably the only person in the state who’s actually starting a new job today. As of midnight tonight, we’re all under a shelter-in-place order. As in, stay home unless there’s a valid need to be out. They are, on the other hand, encouraging outdoor recreation, like walking and running. As if I run. Guess I’m stuck indoors.

If everybody takes this order to heart (and I hope we all do), life will be pretty dull for traffic cops. On the other hand, if you do go out, make sure you don’t speed because there won’t be many decoys to draw attention away from you. And right now, the police are going through donut withdrawals. This is not the time to test their patience.

I think this is a time when we all need to be thankful for the people who are putting themselves at risk to tend to our daily needs. I’m talking about nurses. Doctors are important, too, but it’s the nurse who has to walk in and check your symptoms. If you sneeze during the blood pressure check, the nurse takes the full brunt of it and warns the doctor so he can put on a mask.

There are others, like first-responders, day care teachers, grocery store cashiers, pharmacists, and the guy who drives the toilet paper truck. Okay, his job got a whole lot easier, because there’s no traffic. In fact, he can probably get a police escort, especially if he’s got donuts. The point is, there are a lot of unsung heroes out there working to help us get through this.

A nation doesn’t define itself by its prosperity and physical strength. It’s in times like these that we all find out just what we’re made of. Like Saturday when a neighbor sent a message saying we had a couple of people on our block in need of distilled water. I was in the store already, but by the time I was able to bring some home, the need had already been filled.

What if, every time we went to the store, we contacted one elderly neighbor to see if there’s anything they need? Do you have any neighbors with health issues that put them at a higher risk? Maybe they need a few cans of soup. And with spring finally here, grass will need to be mowed. It’s good exercise, and it may be just what somebody else needs.

And that’s the secret to getting through this, or any other crisis. What do the people around us need? If you’re sitting on a big stash of toilet paper, it means somebody else doesn’t have any. The same goes for food, disinfectants, and all the other things the stores can’t keep in stock. Keeping a supply on-hand is one thing. Hoarding is simply depriving others for your own gain.

And we’re better than that. We’ve proven it time after time. Sure, there will always be the gas stations that raise prices before a hurricane, or those who sell bottled water for ten times its normal price. We have names for people like that. But for every one of those stories, you can find dozens more where people are giving of themselves to help others in need. That’s who we are.

It doesn’t have to be anything big. Setting an elderly neighbor’s trash cans to the street. Leaving a box of canned goods on an unemployed neighbor’s porch. Sharing a few rolls of toilet paper, or a gallon of distilled water. There are dozens of things we can do to help those around us. And right now, we’ve got the time to do it. I can’t imagine a much greater sense of satisfaction.

Are there things you need? Don’t be too proud to ask. You may be surprised at the number of people willing to help. And if you’re in a position to help, there will never be a better time. We’re all in this together, and before it’s all over, we may all find ourselves in a time of need. Just one small gesture of kindness gets it started. From there, anything is possible.

That’s it for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

If You Step Over It, Somebody Will Step In It

Good morning! I hope your day is starting off just right.

It’s Hump Day, and that means the week is half-over. I have to admit, I’m a little proud of the fact that in 10 straight weeks of not having a day job, I’ve never once forgotten what day it was. Funny, when I was working that happened a lot. Most weeks, Thursday came at least twice, along with the disappointment that it was only Tuesday.

Mom always used to say, “Stop wishing your life away.” That was usually in response to my anticipation of attaining a certain age where life would magically be wonderful and all the problems of being six would somehow disappear. “I can’t wait till I’m old enough to drive!” Remember that? Yeah. Turns out Mom was pretty excited about that as well.

With all those new freedoms come new responsibilities. In layman’s terms, additional chores. I still had to clean the carport every time it got messy. Only now, I had to go to the store to buy trash bags. “And since you’re going there anyway …” For a month or two, that was fun. After a while, I began to realize I’d been played. We all were. It’s just part of growing up.

That’s why I wasn’t very patient when one of my daughters would complain about having to help around the house. “I only used one plate! Why do I have to clean them all? And I didn’t leave that dust on the kitchen cabinets!” I’m pretty sure we all handled those objections the same way, with an air of compassion and respect. “Because I said so, that’s why!”

With each trip around the sun, we become more and more aware of the fact that we all share this planet together. And since there aren’t enough houses to go around, some of us have to share those as well. As a family, we all contribute somewhat to the mess. So, it only seems fair that the youngest has to clean it up. That gives them the motivation to graduate and move on.

Okay, I’m having a little fun here. As members of a household, we should all contribute to making our house a home. That means cleaning up after other people, cooking meals we don’t plan to eat, and washing dishes we didn’t use. It also means allowing others to voice an opinion and showing them the same respect we so fervently demand. Just like the Golden Rule says.

The same is true once we step outside the front door. On the job, we’re often asked to clean up messes we didn’t create. We do things knowing the boss will get most of the credit, unless it blows up in their face, in which case we’ll catch the blame. That’s just part of life. But it’s not about glory or blame. It’s about getting the job done and making life better for everyone.

It’s been said that it takes a village to raise a child. And, having started life in a small town, I can attest to that. If you dared to wander on the wrong side of the tracks (literally), you can bet somebody would see you and pick up the phone. “Aren’t you Mary Glardon’s boy? I wonder if she knows what you’re doing!” If I had a dime for every time I heard that.

When I was about six, Dad was out of town for a couple of weeks and my uncle brought a pistol to the house for our protection. Mom wanted no part of it. Not realizing it was a real gun, I picked it up and shot a hole in the wall. Dad found out about it before he even got home. As he stopped into the bank to make a deposit, the teller commented, “I hear that boy of yours is a crack shot!”

Okay, that was nothing but small-town gossip with no beneficial intent. But there were other times when people sensed trouble and stepped in to help. Like when Ricky Brace decided to pound me after we got off the school bus. A man I’d never met stepped through the crowd and pulled us apart. My face was black and blue for a month. I never got to thank that man.

Every day, we’re surrounded by messes we didn’t create. Some are more serious than others, but none of them will get any better until somebody steps in to help. It could be as simple as straightening the door mat at a store entrance to keep an elderly shopper from tripping over it. And it could be as life-changing as pulling somebody from a burning home. You just never know.

Yes, it takes a village to raise a child. It takes a family to make a home, it takes employees to run a business, and it takes all of society to build a nation. We all contribute in one way or another. The question is, will we pitch in, or wait for somebody else to do it for us?

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

We Get By With a Little Help From Our Friends

Good morning, and happy Friday! I hope your day is off to a great start.

Today will be a little out of the ordinary for me. My company is sponsoring a food drive, and I’ve been given the opportunity to help out. It’s something that’s badly needed in our area, especially with the devastation from tornadoes a few short months ago. Thousands were left without a home, or without the means to put a hot meal on the table. It’s nice to be able to give something to those in need.

Most of us never think we’ll find ourselves in a similar situation. We go to work every day, we bring home a paycheck, pay the bills, and life goes on. If something out of the ordinary comes along, we take a little out of savings or use a credit card to handle the emergency. It’s a place of comfort – of knowing we can handle pretty much anything that comes up. As long as it’s not too big.

Then one night, as we’re putting the kids to bed and making our final rounds through the house, sirens go off. Before we can even get to the TV to see what’s going on, alerts blast through on every cell phone in the house. “Multiple tornadoes on the ground – seek shelter immediately!”

At that point, it doesn’t matter how much money you make or how much is sitting in the bank. Your house is as much a target as anything else in town, and all you can do is hunker down and pray. For most of us, it was just an inconvenience – we sat in the basement until it was over. But others huddled together as they listened to the sound of their home being ripped apart.

It’s at that moment that you realize you don’t have it all under control. Things happen that none of us count on, and we’re left to deal with the aftermath. Yes, the homes will be rebuilt. But some won’t be finished until next year. Meanwhile, the families who lived there have been relegated to apartments and hotel rooms in neighboring communities. And they may never be able to replace some of the things they lost.

That’s the reality of life. It’s easy to get caught up in the pride of being able to earn a living and take care of our own, to relish in the comfort of a career that pays the bills, and to celebrate a few promotions along the way. And then in a moment, along comes something we can’t control, and we find ourselves fighting for our very survival. None of that other stuff even matters.

Every one of us, no matter what our station in life, is one or two strokes of bad luck away from needing a little help. The help we need may be related to health, finances, a place to live, a warm meal, a compassionate friend, or any of a hundred other things. And in that moment, we find ourselves relying on the kindness of others.

That stroke of bad luck may come with the thunder of a tornado, or with the silence of a serious illness. It may be the loss of a home, or the loss of a job. And it may be nothing more than the need to change our daily routine, to give up that cushy career, so we can stay home and take care of someone who desperately needs our help. The need may be evident, but the circumstances aren’t always so obvious.

That’s why it’s important that we hold back judgment and simply help where we can. My job today will be to register those arriving for food. Some will be on foot, and others will be in cars I can’t afford. Some will be dressed in shabby clothing, and others will look like they’re on their way to a corporate function. And it’s possible I may see some familiar faces in the crowd. You just never know.

Mom always used to tell us that when you see somebody in need, instead of trying to judge their circumstances or how they may have gotten there, we should just say a short prayer – there, but for the grace of God, go I.

By the end of the day, my lower back will be ruined. I’ll have work to make up on Monday that I didn’t get to do today, and I’ll probably spend the weekend on a heating pad. But when the last bag of food has been distributed, I’ll still be able to enjoy a home-cooked meal and the comfort of my own bed. Not because I’ve done anything special to deserve it. But because, as of this moment, none of it has been taken away.

There’s something to be said for counting our blessings. And there’s an even greater blessing in being able to help someone in need. Tomorrow, it could be any one of us. Appreciate the things you’ve worked for and take care of what you’ve got. Just keep it in perspective and remember that, while we may be able to control some things, others are simply a matter of grace.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved