How long does it take to be nice?
When we launched the Say Something Nice Day movement almost 15 years ago, it never crossed my mind that the model for rudeness and insensitivity would be the president of the United States.
How do you teach civility to young people when they see the opposite from the highest office in the land day after day?
I recently had a fall, striking my head in the Nashville, Tennessee, airport. Because I take a blood thinner, blood was everywhere.
A woman rushed over to my side and called my daughter who was in the passenger pick-up spot outside.
Airport policeman and an emergency medical technician were there instantly. They were business like, but showed empathy, kindness and respect. They could not have been nicer.
The police get such bad press these days; however, these officers were exceptional.
I needed stitches so my daughter drove me to the Stone Crest Medical Center. Everyone from the admissions clerk to the nurses and doctor practiced old-fashioned hospitality.
I have never been so hovered over, with the exception of my daughter and sister. This could have been Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. The orderly brought my daughter a bottle of water while we waited for test results.
How long does it take to be nice? Less time than it takes to be rude.
My eyeglasses were bent terribly out of shape in my fall. The assistant in the eye section in Costco warned me that my glasses might break when she tried to straighten them. She was kindness itself as she worked on the frame. My eyeglasses are as good as new.
Kindness is a smile, a pat on the back, opening the door for someone, a kind encouraging word or offering a cup of water.
Would you believe a nurse from the Stone Crest Trauma Center in Smyrna, Tennessee, called me in Charleston, South Carolina, to inquire about how I was doing?
The real hero in all of this is my daughter, Suzanne. She was really concerned about my condition but remained calm and polite throughout the entire episode. She filled out forms and answered the same questions time after time without a glimmer of annoyance.
Some people sneer and proclaim that niceness is fake, insincere or manipulative. Niceness is the oil that lets real relationships flourish. I did not ask for help, but when I needed it, it was there.
Being nice to one another is not a modern concept. The Bible makes it simple, “Be kind one to another (Ephesians 4:32).
On an earlier trip, I finally found a breakfast vendor in Chicago’s Midway Airport. As I stood peering at the computerized ordering kiosk, a young man stepped up and offered, “Would you like for me to help with that?” I graciously accepted his kind offer.
He lives in Chicago. I was a stranger passing through. We will never see each other again, and yet he thought that being nice deserved his time.
“Please” and “thank you” are the most magical words in our language. These two little words can open doors, strengthen relationships and soothe frayed nerves.
They take hardly a second to utter, and yet the results are often phenomenal.
A member of First Baptist Church of Charleston, South Carolina, he is the author of “Our Father: Discovering Family.” His writings can also be found at MitchCarnell.com.