If baby boomer Larry Checco of Silver Spring, Maryland, isn’t a philosopher, maybe he ought to be. Because in much of what Larry writes for BoomerCafé, we hear the philosophy of a boomer who has learned a lot about life. What he has learned and conveyed in today’s piece is, Be Kind.
Although I’ve lived in the Washington DC area for 35 years, I was born and raised just outside of New York City (blank stares).
I’m a Type A personality and a certifiable ADHD adult (titters).
And already today I’m on my fourth cup of coffee (loud chuckles).
Folks, you’re dealing with the perfect storm (out-and-out laughter).
And that’s how I start all of my public speaking engagements. It gives me an immediate connection with my audience — and cranks me up to make my delivery.
Fact is, this need for instant connectivity overlaps into my more private life as well.
As a boomer, I’m in touch with my own aging. I’m conscious of all the countless excuses and opportunities there are not to engage — from slowly diminishing energy levels, to days of aches and pains, to creeping grumpiness.
I try hard, however, to avoid those shoals whenever possible.
In full disclosure, I greatly appreciate — nay, I require and covet — my quiet and alone time.
But when I’m in public, I’m on. Truth be told, to the embarrassment of my wife and kids, I start conversations with complete strangers in checkout lines.
To make contact. To entertain myself and perhaps someone else for a brief moment. To alleviate that awful feeling of ennui and gnawing sense of everydayness. To know I’m alive.
And to let other people know that they are alive as well.
Perhaps because I’ve worked with the public since I was 11-years-old (my folks owned a small ice cream stand), I’m especially conscious of those who toil in service industries.
I’m referring to the shadow people, the folks who often go unnoticed or unappreciated, yet provide the kinds of services that make our lives easier and more pleasurable, from those who pick up our trash (which I did for a while, myself) to those who serve us food.
I always ask waiters and waitresses their names, for example, and engage them in conversation, which more often than not instantly changes the entire server/customer dynamic to that of two equals mutually relating in the moment — and taking pleasure in it.
I’ve learned how to harness the power of a sincere “Thank you” — the two most undervalued words in the English language— and been rewarded again and again with countless smiles and acts of kindness.
And when appropriate, I always offer a firm handshake in gratitude.
During one hotel stay, I passed a hotel worker who appeared older than I (and that’s getting on) struggling with a large banquet table. I asked if he could use a hand. He politely declined. But I’d made a friend. Every time this gentle man saw me over the next few days he smiled, called me Mr. Larry, asked how I was, and if there was anything he could do for me.
Not only do such interactions warm the cockles of my heart, they make me feel plugged into my universe. They energize me; give me life.
Don’t get me wrong. Cross me, or catch me on a bad day and I can be as surly and unpleasant as the next guy.
But for the most part I try to live by an adage that some say dates back to Plato and the ancient Greeks: Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
Boomer or no boomer, it’s a thought worth shouldering.