perpetual motion machine


Guys and gals, I’m totally exhausted. Can the first commenters ask today’s CODE WORD and make it super-insightful, effervescently fun, and so revealing of human nature that it gets forwarded around the web 4.7 million times, and so I start to get email from foreign heads of state?

0 thoughts on “perpetual motion machine

  1. Lisa Villiarimo

    Aloha All…
    Don’t know if this necessarily qualifies as a CODE WORD but here goes…
    I’m guilty of grumbling about traffic, the insanity of Costco and my husband…yeah yeah yeah…
    Today was different.
    Maybe it was someone waiting a little longer than usual to hold the door at the bank for me; maybe it was the woman who told me to come touch her newborn after I told her we are trying for a baby–“It’s good luck”; maybe it was the great server at a greasy spoon when all I wanted to do is have a burger, beer & my bed. It was a great day in a lot of tiny gestures.
    We all come across wonderful people in our daily activities and since we’re usually so distracted and busy, we just brush on by.
    All I’m saying is these kinds of things are everywhere–if you are open to it and aware.
    I like to think we can all give back to our fellow humans in that same light…where above and beyond is just the norm.
    What have you done along these lines?
    –>just because you WANTED to, not ’cause you felt you HAD to –(guilt has no place in my book.)
    What have you experienced along these lines?
    Mele Kalikimaka & Hauoli Makahiki Hou

  2. quinn

    Not human beings, but here’s my thing. Every Friday morning, after I drop the kid at school, I go to a cat-rescue place and feed and care for anywhere from twenty to forty cats. Every Friday morning, on the way there, I’m all “Eh, don’t want to smell like a litter box today, wouldn’t it be great if some other volunteer got confused, came in on the wrong day and has already done everything, blahblahblah.” Then I get there and start scratching heads and it’s fine. And then I leave an hour later, carrying stinky cat-laundry (volunteer to do that, too), and I feel happy. I’m not sure if that’s above-and-beyond, but it’s the only consistent act of service I do.

  3. kaz

    this is such a little thing, so i hate to feel like i’m patting myself on the back, but it always leads to surprising things: i try to ask salespeople how they’re doing and say thank you to all server people at restaurants when they’re fussing with the table. living in LA, there are so many people who carry themselves as if they’re invisible, and so many people who view those other people as disposable, that it feels especially important to me to do it here. it’s also a bit of a social experiment. most salespeople are either confused when i ask them how they’re doing or they’re extremely grateful to be viewed as a human being and not just another cog in the supply chain.
    i grew up watching my dad follow this approach at his university. and, of all the professors, he’s one of a very small handful who knows all of the IT people, the cleaning folks, the people who tidy the boards at the registrars office. and guess who gets whatever help he needs when his lecture hall has some weird problem? i don’t know where HE picked up the habit, but my guts tells me it was in rebellion against his mother, who liked to think of herself as higher up in the strata. but i’m so grateful to have had this example set, and i always feel better when i see someone remember that they’re worthwhile, too.

  4. Sean M

    My (very) little thing has to do with names…I try to refer to people by their names whenever possible (whether it’s a friend, someone I’ve just been introduced to, service or waitstaff, etc) and make a point to ask what they prefer to be called when there are options (ie. Chris vs Christopher, etc). And if I’m talking to someone and they’re telling a story about someone I’ve never met (a friend, sibling, new significant other, etc) I also make sure to ask their name so that I don’t have to refer to them as some generic term. I was once told that a person’s name is the single most important sound to them in any language…so I try to get it right.
    Wierd maybe, but I think it’s important…and most people seem to appreciate it.

  5. ms. four

    I live in Cairo, and even just saying “good morning” to people in Arabic makes them happy. Expectations of expats are pitifully low, I guess. But it makes it even nicer to see the smiles I get when I use one of my ten Arabic words.

  6. Alyson

    The most consistent thing I do is to compliment people when I see something I like. If I go to a store and I really like the music, the displays, the temperature, the products, the service – anything – I say something about it. If I see a woman with a pretty coat or a cute haircut, I like to tell her. If I meet particularly polite or charming children, I like to compliment both the kids and the parents.
    I like doing this because people are always genuinely happy to hear it. People work really hard at their jobs, at their appearances, at their homes, at their families, at everything in their lives, and I think they like when people notice specific things.

  7. gina

    While Christmas shopping on Tuesday, I gave the couple in front of me a 20% off coupon at Linens ‘N Things. A TINY gesture (I told them I had three of the coupons), but they were so tickled. It saved them $8, and the man even gave me a hug. Totally changed my mood!

  8. Joanna

    I don’t know about all this. My friend explained to me that in Hebrew a good deed is a “mitzvah.” One you tell someone about it, however, it’s a mitzvah no more.

  9. craighill

    gave 2 really good club seats to the bobcats/celtics game to a little kid and his dad who were looking to buy tickets out front. one could argue the “sharp stick in the eye” vs. bobcats tickets but…

  10. ken

    I work in the entertainment industry and am privy to lots of free tickets/guest lists for shows. At least once a month, I find myself with a “+1” I can’t use. My first move is to call friends who live near the venue and see if they want to come. If they can’t make it (last minute plans are sometimes hard to commit to) I always find one of the people who are ‘seeking a miracle’ or hoping to buy one ticket to the show outside the venue and either give them my extra or bring them in on my +1. Everyone is always gracious (except the scalpers trying to fleece these people) and almost always try to repay the favor by buying me a drink, which I always decline politely because it’s not a good deed if you accept a return favor. It’s a feel good all around.

  11. GFWD

    First of all, Lisa, nice CODE WORD. You closely resemble my friend’s wedding coordinator from their resort in Punta Cana. No chance you were hanging out in the Dominican Republic in June of this year, huh?
    Ken, I live near Phillips Arena (a decently good venue) in Atlanta and I love receiving good deeds.
    Gina, I’ve been the recipient of the coupon or “free drink with purchase” coupon from someone in line and it really does make you feel good to get one. Keep it up.
    I already do a lot of what many of you mentioned. I use everyone’s name just like “watchamacallit” said. I compliment people and run back to motivate the slow pokes in my exercise class to give them encouragement on our longer distance runs or when they’re trying to belt out that one last pushup.
    One recent thing I did made me feel good and is in line with what some of you have mentioned. The cleaning folks in my office often arrive in the late evening while I’m still slaving away at my desk (usually on days when this blog is hopping with spirited discourse about politics). Since they were Hispanic I try to “thank” them by saying grassy ass instead of thank you.
    Well, one night I struck up a conversation by summoning my tres semesters of Spanish education and found out where they hailed from. Then I looked up their small town on the web and found some pictures of their town square and a couple of signature landmarks. (Think their Bell Tower and Old Well). They hovered around my computer awestruck that I was able to show them their home in just a few keystrokes. It made me realize, since they said they can’t afford to go home very often, how much they left behind coming here to work. Setting aside your politics on immigration issues, it was touching to see their immense pride in their home.
    From then on whenever we see one another, we shout to one another the name of their small village. Their resulting smiles are priceless. Feels like I made a connection with someone that nearly everyone else probably ignores.

  12. connor beach

    This is actually something I’ve noticed my mom doing that I’m going to remember if i am ever blessed to be a grandmother. When I ask her a frantic parenting question, she always begins her answer w/ “Trust your instincts. You have great instincts and I know you won’t mess up.” It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about what a great thing that is to say to a new mom! I’m sure she DOES have an opinion or could fine tune my mothering skills at times, but she kind of holds her tongue and boosts my confidence instead. Go, mom, Go! I love you for it.


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