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Posted: September 28, 2013 7:59 p.m.

McCoy: How to be nice

I’ve met some nice people in my 53 years: people who are specialists at making others feel good about life and good about themselves. We’ve all come across these folks, and I’d like to share some of their actions that have impressed me.

I met an older couple a few years ago as I was waiting in line at a cafeteria. I know. Waiting in line at a cafeteria means being surrounded by old people, but this couple was different. They didn’t do anything special like put me in their will, or hand me the keys to a new car; they made an impression on me just because they exuded peace. Oh, that I could exude peace! I’m more of a exudes-chaos-calamity-and-terror kind of guy. These folks made me feel good just by their proximity. It was as if kindness could rub off from one person to the next, sort of the way the stench of moth balls and rose-scented perfume rubs off, when you’re in line in a cafeteria.

Nice people actually care about little details. They recall my name, birthday, hobbies, and other personal facts. I’d love to be able to have that skill, but sometimes I can’t even recall my own name, birthday, hobbies, and personal facts. I guess I just don’t care enough to remember that little Brenda is taking ballet, and Jaron dressed his dog in a clown outfit. Well, I lie. I’d remember that last one. Very few kids dress their pets nowadays, thank goodness. But, I promise I’d forget the kid’s name.

I’ve also noticed that nice people listen when you talk. Talking is one of my skills, but listening isn’t. I’m likely to stop you in mid-sentence with my own story or analogy or crazy anecdote. I can’t help it. Nice people can. They shut their traps so you can run yours. I’m sure they’d like to talk, but they’re just so mannered, they won’t interrupt or dominate the conversation.

By now, I hope you’re wondering about yourself: “Am I nice? Do I listen? Do I exude peace?” I know I’m questioning my own abilities here. Maybe, by self examination, we can all improve and become a nicer society. Wouldn’t that be a great thing to do for our children, especially that kid - what’s his name - who likes to dress his cat up as a ballerina or something like that? I forget the details.

David McCoy, a notorious storyteller and proud Yellow Jacket, lives in Covington. He can be reached at davmccoy@bellsouth.net.

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