It’s Not Really Winning If Nobody Else Gets To Play

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

I’m in my favorite position this morning. Sitting on the sofa with a fresh cup of coffee and grandkids by my side. In the time I’ve been home, my granddaughter has become a little Grandpa’s girl. Her brother always was. You know. Not a girl, but … never mind. Either way, I’ll take the extra attention. Experience has shown it doesn’t last forever.

Saturday, we brought the RV home for some routine maintenance. In other words, my wife bought some more stuff to go inside and we had to put it away. I worked up a pretty good sweat in the process. Making the bed is an Olympic event. It’s like synchronized swimming except there’s nothing synchronized about it, other than the part where we both said, “close enough.”

I also put some water in the tank to check for leaks, since the pipes were all exposed to freezing overnight temperatures last week. The good news is the pipes are fine. The better news is I now know how fast those tanks fill. The mechanic warned me about the dangers of overfilling the “black” tank for cleaning. There’s this vent pipe on the roof and … well, use your imagination.

As we finished everything up, we both agreed it’s time to go camping. Like over the river and through the woods. Okay, over the mountains and right through the middle of the world’s most intense driving experience – Atlanta. It’s not the only way to get to Florida, but once you’ve mastered that one, everything else is child’s play. Besides, that’s why God made insurance.

One of the benefits of something that big is I don’t mind when my wife tells me how to drive. Those mirrors are pretty good, but she’s better. If there’s anything back there, she lets me know. If she launches into Lamaze breathing, that means I’m about to do something really stupid. It’s a form of communication we’ve perfected over the years. Besides, I’m too far away to punch.

Another thing I’ve learned is that other drivers aren’t so much of a pain when you’re in a vehicle like that. It’s not that they’re any less aggressive. It’s just that I don’t care. I’m sure Jim-Bob is riding my bumper in a pickup truck that matches the size of his ego, but my rear-view camera only works when the transmission is in reverse. Bet that’d get his attention.

Okay, that’s a false sense of security. I used to drive a semi, and any visions of being bigger and badder than everything else on the road fade into the twilight the moment you hit the D.C. Beltway. Have you ever seen a chihuahua take on a St. Bernard? That’s the way it was with every Prius on the road. And, like a St. Bernard facing down a chihuahua, I backed off.

I guess it comes down to a sense of entitlement. We all feel entitled to our spot on the road and, for that matter, in life. And, for some people, that entitlement gets a boost by intimidating others who only want their own piece of the pie. But that only works if you have something to intimidate them with. You don’t see a lot of Yugos brake-checking a monster truck.

We went to the grocery store yesterday, and that sense of entitlement is beginning to creep back in there as well. A week ago, people were taking the six-foot separation thing to heart. Even those who weren’t necessarily afraid of germs gave leeway to those who were. Now, it’s back to normal. Carts in the middle of the aisle, and people reaching over you for a can of soup.

After the 9/11 attacks, a sense of unity swept over the entire nation and people showed genuine concern for one another. But apparently, all it takes is a few protests at the State House to make the rest of us forget what we’re up against and why it’s important that we look out for one another. And this, I fear, is why we won’t return to “normal” any time soon.

But the bigger question is, do we really want to? If “normal” means pushing our way through a crowd and demanding that others yield to our self-ordained sense of entitlement, maybe that’s not such a worthy goal after all. Especially if it means sacrificing the progress we’ve made for the sake of our own desires.

A little humility goes a long way in restoring a sense of community. In yielding to others, we empower ourselves. There is no control like self-control. Sure, some may take advantage of your consideration. That’s their problem, not yours. Kindness is only as common as we want it to be. We just have to want it more than we want what we had.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Don’t Let the Craziness Define the Season

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

So, a couple of days ago, a female co-worker texted me and asked if I’m done with all my Christmas shopping. I responded, “So cute – she thinks I’ve already started.” I’ve been accused of being a little less manly on most things in life, but when it comes to shopping, my Y chromosomes shine through. I do as little as possible, and usually in the last hours of Christmas Eve – with all the other men.

I don’t know that it’s a “man” thing as much as just putting it off. I don’t like crowds. I don’t like traffic. I don’t like rude people, and I don’t like long lines at the store checkout. So, I put it off until the last possible minute. Then I complain because the stores have sold out of all the good stuff. Maybe if I started in July, I could avoid this mess. But then I’d hide stuff and forget where it is until April.

As a comedian, I often lamented the fact that, when you ask a woman what she wants for Christmas, the reply is always, “I don’t really want anything.” Yeah. I only fell for that once. What that really means is, “I’m not about to let you off the hook that easy.” We’re supposed to pay attention and pick up on all the little hints she drops all through the year. Well, we’re also supposed to obey the speed limit.

Next month we’ll celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary, and I don’t know my wife any better today than I did way back then. I guess the difference is that she’s not afraid to shop. When she needs something, she gets it. And after one year where I tried buying her clothes, we came to a mutual agreement not to ever do that again. Some mistakes you only make once.

So, I’m left with trying to surprise her with something she doesn’t even know she wants. And that’s not easy to do, especially in an age of online shopping where the complete inventory of every store in the world is available at the click of a button. More than once, I’ve found that perfect unique gift, only to hear her say, “I saw this online!” Of course you did.

And then there’s the issue of using a debit card from our joint account for shopping. “What did you buy at Godiva Chocolates?” A circular saw and some wool socks. So much for that surprise. I finally got smart and started using a credit card of my own. Because, even if I take cash, that’s right there on the bank statement three seconds after I complete the transaction.

Yes, women and men are different, and that’s never more evident than this crazy season of holiday shopping. My wife always insisted that we had to have special wrapping paper for the gifts from Santa so the girls wouldn’t notice it was the same wrapping paper we used for one another. A boy wouldn’t notice. It’s paper. It’s red and green. Oh, and there are snowmen on it. Beautiful. Now dig in!

The difference is my wife always wanted to create the perfect Christmas for our daughters and now our grandchildren. I always figured my job was to fund it. Otherwise, stay out of the way. We used to shop together, but she found that shopping while the kids are in school was a lot easier. Now it’s mostly done online. We get deliveries from UPS, FedEx, and Amazon almost daily.

A couple of days ago, my wife was having some issues with high blood pressure and what felt like a racing heart. I told her she’s not allowed to die until after Christmas, because there are too many gifts to wrap and I don’t know who gets what. I’ve often said I’m as surprised as the kids are on Christmas morning. With a couple of exceptions, I have no real idea what any of them are getting.

Yet, somehow, we bring it all together and the day is pretty special every year. Because, it’s really not about the gifts and the lights and the retail frenzy. It’s about family. It’s about warm feet and warm hearts. It’s about spending the day with one another celebrating something bigger than we can truly comprehend. It’s about kindness, generosity, and those smiling little faces. It’s about hope.

So, as you go through the motions of putting the finishing touches on your holiday celebration, take a moment to remember what it’s really about. Whether it’s Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, or simply Wednesday, find the special meaning that day holds for you and enjoy it for what you want it to be. Because, long after the gifts are forgotten, the memories of what really matters will linger on.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Did You Remember to Say “Thank You?”

Good morning, and happy Friday! I hope your day is starting off well.

I’d like to tell you I’ve got some awesome plans for the weekend, but unless awesome begins with filing taxes, I guess I’d be lying. I don’t know why I wait until the last minute every year. It’s just become a tradition. Beyond that, I need to mow the lawn for the first time this year, set up a new computer, do some cleaning, and make breakfast sandwiches for the next month.

Yes, you heard me right. Once a month, I spend a couple of hours at the stove making sandwiches and burritos I can throw in the freezer. Then, each day before work, I grab one out and put it in my lunchbox. It saves money, and I know exactly what I’m getting. I can’t say the same for what comes out of the vending machine at work.

This habit started because our vending supplier at work didn’t seem to care that I was partial to one really tasty breakfast item. It was there for a couple of months, then they never stocked it again. I didn’t care for the alternatives, and when I asked about my favorite, he just shrugged his shoulders. So, I started making my own and now they don’t get any of my money. That’ll show ‘em!

We’re all creatures of habit. Okay, some more than others. When my wife and I go to a restaurant we’ve been to before, she could order for me because I usually don’t even look at the menu. I know what I’m having before we even get there. Sure, I probably miss out on some other delicacies as a result. But I’d also miss out on my favorite Buffalo wings or bourbon-glazed salmon.

Once we become accustomed to something being there, we notice when somebody takes it away. Especially if it was something we liked. But, here’s the question – did we tell anybody we liked it? Did we thank them for it? Did we show our appreciation on a fairly regular basis, or did we just complain the one time this month we went looking for it and it wasn’t there?

Whether it’s breakfast items in the vending area, a box of donuts somebody brings in on a Friday morning, or just a warm smile and greeting from somebody we don’t even know, people want to feel like it makes a difference. They need to know the little bit of extra effort taken to brighten your day in some small way is appreciated.

It’s the little things that count. A handshake your first day in church, a compliment from a co-worker, a warm greeting from a complete stranger walking down the street, or a little extra effort to stock my favorite breakfast item in the vending machine. Sorry, I just can’t let that go.

But the point is, if none of those efforts are rewarded with even the slightest expression of gratitude, people tend to drop the behavior and move on. There’s an old adage that says if every time I walk through a certain door I get punched in the face, it won’t be long before I stop walking through that door. I think we can all relate to that.

Every day, people in our life walk through that door, hoping to find a friendly face on the other side. Kindness is more than just an attitude – it’s an effort we make. It takes thought. It takes consideration. And it takes courage. Because, any time we put ourselves out there, we never know what the response may be. There are some people who just can’t be nice about anything.

Take a little time today to pay somebody a compliment. Thank them for the things they do that make your day just a little brighter. Let them know it makes a difference. And remember, what makes you feel better will often make others feel just the same. There is no copyright on kindness. You can plagiarize it all day long, and not one person will complain. Try it!

I don’t know how I got from breakfast sandwiches to acts of random kindness, but that’s just how my mind works. It’s early in the morning, and my brain is in full swing. Besides, you’re used to it by now. It’s not important how we got here – what’s important is where we go from here. You can make a difference in somebody else’s life today. Don’t miss that opportunity. It’ll brighten the day for both of you.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

The Joys of Being New

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

We got some new neighbors yesterday. I don’t really know anything about them, other than they have two small children who seem to be really friendly – when I stopped over to introduce myself, both came running to me for a high-five.

The mother was interested in knowing what kind of neighborhood we live in. I stressed how quiet things are, because … well, the last people who lived there needed a reminder their very first day. A loud party complete with drinking, fireworks, and cars racing down the street was a little more than the rest of us could tolerate. So, we had a chat. We didn’t hear much from them after that.

We all tend to strive for what’s become comfortable, whether it’s on the job, around the house, across the fence, or even in church. It’s amazing how habitual people are in where they sit on Sunday morning. Better still, let them find that a visitor came in and took their seat, and they just stand there for a minute, as if they have no idea they’re allowed to sit somewhere else.

And it’s the same way in our neighborhood. We all have a place where we park our cars. If it’s on the street, we’re on the honor system, because it’s public property and we don’t own the area in front of our homes. When we set out our trash cans, we put them in the same place every week, hoping somebody won’t park in front of them. We’re all creatures of habit. And habits are hard to break.

So, when somebody new moves in, it’s only natural for the neighbors to open the blinds, step back from the window just enough to avoid being seen, and subject the new residents to a full-blown visual inspection. We not only watch the people, but the things they take out of the moving van.

If they have lots of toys, we assume there are small children. Bicycles mean the kids are a little older. Mismatched furniture means they’re just getting started in life and may not have figured out the best (and quietest) way to settle disagreements. And a bunch of posters and mirrors advertising their favorite brand of whiskey is usually not a good sign. These are the things we notice.

And I remember when we were the new family moving in. It’s been almost 17 years ago, and we’re still not among the old-timers on the block. In fact, I only know of three families that are newer than us. People tend to hang around a long time, and they want to maintain the lifestyle to which they’ve become accustomed. Around here, that means friendly and quiet, thank you very much.

The day we closed on our house, before we even loaded the truck to move in, we stopped by to go inside for a quick look around. The realtor had given us the code for the lock box, but as it turned out, somebody had locked the storm door and the lock box was hanging inside it on the main door. So, we stood there trying to figure out what to do. That’s when we met our first neighbor.

She came down and asked if we needed a screwdriver. Okay, here are strange people trying to figure out how to break into the vacant house and the neighbor is offering to share burglary tools? That’s comforting! I told her we’d just bought the house and she said, “Oh, I know!” She then went on to ask about my job (she already knew where I worked) and a few other trivial things.

That’s when it occurred to me that the neighbors had already scoped us out. And over the next few days, we were welcomed by a few more neighbors and a police officer who let us know we were living on the quietest street in town with a neighborhood watch that was second to none. Suffice to say, I gave my daughters a few words of instruction.

We’ve all been there, and we know how lonely that can feel. And we wonder sometimes how long it’ll be until we’re fully accepted by those around us. That’s why I stopped over to meet our new neighbors. It’s why I introduce myself to every new person at work, and it’s why I welcome visitors to church. I do it because people did it with me, and I know how good that feels.

Each of us, every day, has the opportunity to make somebody feel more comfortable and secure. We have the opportunity to shake a hand, share a smile, and make them feel noticed. It costs nothing, but it means everything. And it’ll make you feel pretty good as well. Give it a try!

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

The Exponential Power of Kindness

Good morning, and happy Hump Day! I hope your day is starting off well.

I’ve been reading a lot on social media about showing others some kindness. It’s heartwarming to read those messages, though it’s sad that our world is in such a shape that we have to remind people to do these things. And the evening news only reinforces that perspective. There sure seems to be a lot of hate floating around.

Back in the day, I used to write humor columns every week. It was an enjoyable task, and it helped me look at life in a little more lighthearted way. There’s always something funny out there. You just have to look at things with a slightly different set of eyes. I once saw a freshly painted sign on the side of the highway that read, “Used cows for sale.” If that didn’t make you grin, we need to talk.

I got into writing humor for one simple reason – to make people smile, maybe even laugh out loud. And I ran into some resistance along the way. “Write something I can use – I don’t have time for silliness!” Well, okay. There are people who feel that way. But there are a lot more who desperately want to laugh and could use a little help.

We all have different needs. Some people need a good laugh. Others need a handshake and a smile. The person on an electric scooter in the grocery store, staring at boxes on the top shelf, could probably use a little help. That downtrodden person on the street needs a smile. A co-worker may need a pat on the back, just to let them know they’re doing a good job.

There’s a scene from my teenage years that continues to haunt me, a time when I was faced with the choice of compassion or hostility and I made the wrong choice. As a result, a younger boy was sent home in tears with the broken remains of a tabletop pinball game he’d bought from the thrift store because I was more concerned about him leaving an empty box in our front yard than helping him out.

Hopefully over the years I’ve made up for that with others, and I pray somebody else showed that boy the kindness that I should have. Think about how it makes you feel when somebody shows you some genuine compassion and humanity. Then think about how it feels when they don’t. It makes a huge difference in your day.

One simple act of kindness can go a long way toward healing what’s wrong in our world. And, to be sure, there are people who simply don’t care. Anything you do for them is received in a spirit of entitlement instead of gratitude. We can’t change people like that. But, thankfully, they’re in a class of their own, far removed from the rest of humankind. The majority of people accept kindness graciously.

When we do something kind for somebody else, even just a heartfelt gesture, it instantly changes their outlook. That change may only last a moment, but what if the person behind you does the same thing? And then the person behind them? After a while, it begins to build. And sometimes, it’s that one act of kindness from you that reminds the person behind you to do the same.

Watch people walking into the store at Christmas, brushing past the Salvation Army kettle with their eyes straight forward like they didn’t even realize somebody was there to collect donations. Then watch the people behind them do the same thing. But if just one person drops a couple of dollars in the kettle, the person behind them is that much more likely to do the same.

It’s because we all need a sense of validation. We need to know we count. And just because you’re on top of the world, thriving in your career with a warm and loving family, that doesn’t change the fact that you need to feel needed. And in letting one other person know they’re important, that they count, it validates that person’s need for the kindness you showed. It validates you.

Make time for kindness. Look for those opportunities and share them freely. It doesn’t cost a thing to share a smile or lend a hand, and a couple of dollars is everything to somebody whose pockets are empty. We’re all on this planet together, and any one of us could find ourselves in need of a little help. It all starts from within. We have the power to make it happen. Let’s do this!

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

What’s Your Super Power?

Good morning! I hope you had a fantastic weekend.

For those of us in the US Midwest, it was a weekend of brutal weather. Our weather here wasn’t quite as bad as the forecasters had predicted, but it was still a mess. It started with a light drizzle most of the day Saturday, followed by ice, snow, and a 30-degree drop in temperature that froze everything in its path.

Yesterday morning, I woke up to the sound of a snowblower running outside. Our neighbor was out in single-digit temperatures clearing the sidewalk on our entire block. When he’d finished, he came back to clear our driveway, and up around the car. I didn’t even have time to make him a cup of hot cocoa before he was off to the next driveway.

When we first moved to Ohio, I remember asking my dad how he found the energy to shovel his own walks. Funny, he was the same age I am now, but back then that seemed a lot older. And, as it turns out, he never did have to shovel. His neighbor, a much younger man, came by with a snowblower each morning and did it for him.

So, when I bought my snowblower I decided to pay it forward. We had a couple of elderly ladies living next-door, and when I went out to plow my own walks and driveway, I always did theirs as well. And when we moved into this house, I did the same for my neighbors. When my grandson was old enough to run the snowblower, he carried on the tradition.

But this year, my grandson is in boot camp and my snowblower decided to take the winter off. I have no idea why it won’t start, but I’ve had it for 20 years with nothing more than a few minor repairs, so I can’t complain. Still, I’m not used to being on the receiving end of neighborly kindness. I’d rather be out there with them.

And, the thing is, none of us ever do these things hoping somebody will pay it back. I’m sure my neighbor was only thinking of the job at hand, and the fact that it would make somebody else’s day better – the same as I did when I was the one out there plowing. We do it because we have the ability and, for some of us, the tools to make the job a whole lot easier.

When I was a young sailor, I learned to work on cars out of necessity – the cars I owned were older and needed occasional repairs, and I couldn’t afford a mechanic. Of course, back then, cars were a lot easier to work on. I remember dropping the engine out of my VW Beetle on the side of the road for a quick repair. A little over an hour later, we were on our way.

In the process of making that repair, I found a way to replace the generator without dropping the engine, something the repair manuals said just couldn’t be done. A couple of months later, a man I worked with asked if I could help him change the generator in his Beetle. I had the job done in fifteen minutes. He tried to pay me, but I told him to just pay it forward.

Over the years, I worked on a lot of cars that didn’t belong to me, and I never accepted pay for doing it. Because I always knew it could be my wife or daughters needing that help someday, and I hoped somebody would be kind enough to help them. That’s the way this whole thing works. And even if it never comes back to you, hopefully the person you helped will help somebody else.

We all have talents, certain skills that allow us to do jobs others can’t quite figure out. Maybe we have the tools they need to get the job done. Maybe we have a truck that can haul a refrigerator or a garage where they can do their own work. And maybe our only gift is the ability to hold somebody’s hand and help them through tough times.

We all need a little help from time to time, and so does everyone around us. That’s not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of humanity. But we also have gifts of our own we can use to make somebody else’s day better. It’s our willingness to use those gifts that defines who we are.

When I can track down my neighbor, I’ll be sure to let him know just how much I appreciated his kindness. And next winter, maybe he’ll be the one to wake up to the sound of a neighbor clearing his walks. We do these things for one another, not out of a sense of obligation, but because we can. We do it because we care. And we do it because it just feels good.

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

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved