Mr. Nice Guy


It’s said that nice guys finish last.  This may or may not be true and unfortunate if it were.  I can certainly say that persistence pays off.  But being kind is its own reward.  Sure, people take advantage.  Sure, there have been times I wanted to lose my temper, tell someone exactly what I was thinking or walk away from a toxic situation.  But that’s not me.  I like to stick my hand in the fire, especially if it means someone else can take theirs out.  Or, perhaps it can lessen their suffering.  I’ll give away my last dollar if there’s a chance it’ll bring joy, temporary or not, to someone I care about.  Maybe I will finish last.  That’s not up to me.  That’s for the universe to sort out.

That’s not to say that I don’t offend people from time to time.  Or that I can’t just walk away from someone in pain.  But the fact is, I’d rather go out swinging, meaning in an attempt to help, to support, to love, than to chalk it up as a loss.  I’m goddamn stubborn that way.  Learned it from Mom.  There was a time I could quit any situation, any job—just because.  Nowadays, I’m a bit more persistent.  Hahaha, yup.  Persistent.

The reason I’m writing this is because I had to go to a job thing at CareerLink today.  I was “randomly selected” to receive supportive services from the Commonwealth of PA.  In other words, Harrisburg is telling me, “Get the fuck back to work.”

Message sent.  Message received.

I’m trying.  Kind of.  I want to write.  Been spending my time reading and writing.  Looking into opportunities to write professionally.  Etc.  You know this already.  Well, in order to continue to receive UC benefits, I have to jump when they say “jump.”  The Orientation was quick—about an hour long.  There was a bit of useful information.  I may have even acquired a contact for my writing; one of the guys that works in that office is a published writer.  Not bad, right?  As soon as I’m done writing this, I’m headed to school for a Montgazette meeting.  Get involved, young man!  Er, old head…

After I left the Career Link office, I went to get a coffee at Starbucks.  On my way, I was detoured by hunger.  Normally, I’d grab an apple bran muffin with my caffeinated beverage, but my stomach had been upset for a few days now.  So I was driving past all those fast food joints on 202; nothing better than grease for an upset stomach.  Right?  Well, for years I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews for the chicken biscuit at Chick-Fil-A.  Why not try it for myself today?  It was 10:30, still breakfast.  On my way in, an old fellow was carrying in these long-ass boxes of poinsettia.  Not wanting to see the guy struggle, I grabbed one from the back of his delivery van and brought it into the store.  He thanked me.  The girl behind the counter thanked me.  Then I ordered my reward.

“I’m going to have the chicken biscuit, please,” I proudly announced.

“I’m sorry, sir.  Breakfast ended at 10:30,” the kindly countergirl replied.  “Can I interest you in lunch?”

You can interest me in turning your little clock back 3 minutes so I can eat a biscuit, Darla.

“Yeah, sure,” I caved.

I’ll have to get there before 10:30 next time.  Oh, well.  Their nuggets are good, even for breakfast.  And they have good iced tea.

I headed over to Starbucks for my coffee. The last time I wrote about getting coffee, I had just witnessed a man die.  Before I continue on today’s tale, let me fill you in on what happened that day.  I do believe I said something about free coffee…  After leaving McDonald’s, I had gone to get my coffee.  As I approached the door, a young woman carrying a baby was exiting.  I elected to hold the door and step to the side, allowing the family to pass first.  The young mother thanked me and walked past.  Consequently, another woman who was entering the cafe went by me as well.  She also thanked me and then held the inside door for me.  I hence reciprocated by allowing the woman to order ahead of me.  Well, in the spirit of the season—and all that crap—the woman offered to buy my coffee.  How nice of her! I got a tall (medium) coffee.

(She paid with her phone.  Somehow, the scanner read the little bar code thingy on her screen.  Very Big Brotherish—simultaneously cool and creepy!)

I related the story of the man at McDonald’s to a couple of staff at Starbucks and my benefactor departed.  Once she left, I went back to the front and asked for a venti and a muffin.  See, I didn’t want to take advantage of the woman for buying me a cup; I just told the cashier that I would pay the difference.  Neither woman behind the counter would take my money.  It was “on the house” for being “nice.”  Not too shabby, huh?

Fast-forward to this morning…  When I entered the cafe, there was a line 20 deep of kids from a local school.  Turns out they were not ordering.  Just loitering.  Damn teenagers.  A woman got into line behind me.

“I’m not sure if this is the line,” she told me, “but I’m standing behind you.”

“Teenagers scare the shit out of me, too,” I admitted.

As I organized my money, a lone dollar dropped to the floor.  Not aware of my fumble, I kept on counting and smoothing my money.

The woman bent to pick it up.  “You dropped your money.”

“”Oh, thank you.”  I took the dollar.  “Not too many honest people these days.”  I’m so cynical.  “I appreciate that.”

“No problem.  I’ve lost a lot of things in my life, so I would never steal from someone else.”  She seemed sincere.

I ordered my drink and offered to pay for the kind woman’s as well.  You know, pay it forward.  She refused.  The familiar cashier, remembering me from the above story, made a gesture of her own.

“Don’t worry.  I’ll take care of her.”

“You don’t have to do that,” we protested in unison.

“No, no.  [to me] It was sweet of you to offer.  And [to the other woman]  you gave him his money back.  It’s my pleasure.”

I walked to the back counter to pick up my beverage and turned towards the front.  The cashier reached into the bake case.  I began to laugh to myself.  The woman refused my offer because she wanted more than just a cup of coffee!  She musta felt bad taking advantage of my offer.  Everything worked out just fine.

I had to put this post on hold in order to run over to that school newspaper meeting.  While there, I accepted an assignment that I’m enthusiastic about writing.  And get this—because it was the last meeting of the semester, the club was given vouchers for lunch at the cafeteria!  I scored another free cup of coffee!

Life is fun.

Keep reading.  I’ll keep writing.  Subscribe to the blog.  Leave comments.  Pass it on to others.

8 thoughts on “Mr. Nice Guy

  1. Chicken biscuit is so good. I recommend getting cheese if your a cheese lover like me. Either way you will not be disappointed. Lol funny how I read your blog all the time, and a chick fa lay reference finally make me leave a comment

    • Word? More likely than not, I’m just mentally ill and that’s the angle I choose when writing… Real or imagined, I’m glad someone is amazed by something about me.

  2. Yo Rob, have you seen the simpsons episode about writing childrens books? You like books and can think like a child, you should write a kids book. Go read danny the dino or harry the dirty dog. also kids will always buy books that relate to them. so write a series on the philly kid or the boston kid, there is 500,000 books sold right there. I expect a first draft monday.

    • Laughed my ass off at that episode! And I was actually at the gym today thinking the same thing. Elf was on and I thought, “I could write this. I’d just have to watch the F-bombs.” Monday might be a little tight, but I’ll let you know when it’s a go. Say hi to your girls for me.

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