Crusading Economic Woes with Kindness

For months I have been thinking, reading and witnessing the economic disfigurement, which we are currently encompassed by; and I am tired of cocktail hour conversations, echoing the same chords of “it’s bad out there” and it’s “going to get worse”. I believe the majority of us saw this coming in 2006–and turned a cheek. It is time to come full face…basically, I am tired of words. I do not necessarily agree with one entity, such as a government saving or “bailing-out” individuals or corporations in a recession. I have no answers, I have no BIG miracle plan, but I do believe all things happen to us for a reason and I will not wait for an organization to fix this mess. I choose to act now.  

True leadership starts at an ordinary level, with all of us as individuals–knowing that no one is beneath us (while aiding others).

What ever happened to being just kind and thoughtful to one another? What happened to helping someone, who we do not know, and wanting nothing in return? I have always been thoughtful and helped those I encounter every day. Mainly, because I have been at the very bottom before (actually, a few times — covered with mud bordering on clay) and I never want anyone to be there.

Many people help by contributing to a non-profit organization and feel that this is good enough for the year…which is fine. But, what about contributing to man on a daily or weekly basis throughout the year with thoughtful action?

I find great joy in buying a complete stranger a cup of coffee, tipping the cab driver double, offering that rushed individual my metro card, so they can catch their train; and when someone asks for directions,not telling them where to go, but actually escorting them to their destination–what’s a few blocks?

Around Thanksgiving, I was in Cleveland for the longest I have ever been, since I moved to NYC. I usually fly in and fly right back out.

However, this Thanksgiving I spent a little over a week in this city, I used to call home. As I drove (for the first time in years) down Interstate 71 and through the suburban neighborhoods, I became sad because of the lack of energy, the lack of “pride of ownership” that used to grace grand streets I used to travel. The city is bordering on a complete economic disaster…Even though I am not a wealthy individual (not even close to it!), I wondered what I could do to help. In turn, I found myself being especially kind to everyone, who I encountered. When I went out with my sisters and bought a round a drinks for their friends for $33.00 (that was for only 8 drinks!), I tipped the bartender $10.00. Everyone around just stopped talking and looked at me.

My 24 year-old sister said, “Heather, why are you throwing your money away like that? This is not New York!!”

 I replied, “I know, but, eight drinks in NYC would cost me at least $100 and I appreciate that tonight I can make you, your friends and the bartender happy. Not too mention that we all should try to make a difference right now -even if it is a small one. It is time to pay-it-forward.”

Once back in NYC, I noticed that I was buying a lot of coffee for others, tipping more and smiling more, as a result.

The other night, as I was finishing the final pages of “Blue Blood & Mutiny: The Fight for the Soul of Morgan Stanley,” I decided to order take out. Once my delivery man arrived he told me my total was $11.00. I gave him a $20 and asked for $3 back. He was so flustered that he gave me $6 back and I said, “No, here,” and gave him the additional $3. His face was  mystified, and he said, “I am used to getting $1” And as he thanked me, I thought: “What is going on here…what have we become? We are in a recession and people are using it as an excuse?” I just don’t get it.

If I cannot take care of the tip for a server/cab driver, etc, I just walk or do not go out.

I could never eat food and not take care of the individual who brought it to me. I make the sacrifices in other parts of my life, so that I can take care of others –in “small” ways.

These are not examples of me being a “big tipper”; but trying to do my part…

You know, we cannot blame our problems on the so-called “greedy” bankers on Wall Street when we all are “greedy” on some level…

Yes, I know my reasoning is slightly idealistic; but so what?

I am a firm believer that small acts of kindness can change a world, enhance creativity and stimulate the good in all of us –even those perceived as bad…

Hoping that others can cast their spell of kindness on this period of blight, so it is more endurable for all…

May 2009 bless us all with thought, humility, health, kindness and strength to do the right thing!

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