The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]


Little Acts Of Kindness Go A Long, Long Way …
April 7, 2009, 7:09 am
Filed under: Comment


My 3rd or 4th Birthday Party

Whilst I could say the title of this post could be a valuable lesson for brands [1] I’ve already said that quite a few times and [2] I’m writing a post kinda-slagging this thinking off, so just see it for what it is – another ‘Rob in sentimental old fart’ mode.

Got it? Cool – then I’ll begin.

I received this email from a friend of mine a couple of days ago.

No doubt you’ll all of received something like it at some point or other … and whilst I don’t know if the story is true, it’s still powerful.

Now I admit nothing like this has ever happened to me [especially where a friend I’ve known from School has turned into a hunk, ha!] but a friend of mine had a very similar situation with a colleague and it fundamentally changed how he managed his company and people – which is possibly why he is now regarded as one of the most decent big bosses out there.

Saying that, I know firsthand how the simple act of friendship can make a huge difference.

Without doubt my dearest friends Paul, Tony and Charlie [plus Jill – but she’s my wife so it’s different, she HAS to care, haha!] have helped me get through various challenging periods of my life.

It might have been a word of encouragement, a phonecall or a hug – it doesn’t matter, the fact is they somehow instinctively knew when their presence was needed and when it would have maximum effect and that is why I will always be there for them and why I refuse to use the word ‘friend’ flippantly.

You see whereas other people say they have friends coming out their arse [not the best turn of phrase there] I have very few.

I know lots of people – lots of great and interesting people who I enjoy spending time with – but a friend is someone very special to me and it’s certainly not someone who I’ve just met and had a couple of drinks and laughs with.

I must admit I always find it weird when I meet someone who has just moved to a country and have seemingly got the widest social network ever. Of course it could be because I’m comparing their situation to mine – someone who is more likely to be friends with the local coffee shop worker or a security guard than someone in my own industry circle – but I still can’t work out how someone can call another person a friend when they’ve only just met them.

To me ‘friendship’ has become like those other vastly overused words like ‘love’, ‘innovation’ and ‘revolution’ … a pale interpretation of what it once was.

Yes I know I am strange … yes I know I sound like I’m 105 years old … yes I know this attitude has both pissed off and frustrated a whole bunch of people in my life over the years and no, I don’t know why I’m telling you all this … so how about I just get on with telling the story before you think I’m even more of a fuckwit than you already had decided …

One day, when I was a freshman in high school,

I saw a kid from my class was walking home from school.

His name was Kyle.

It looked like he was carrying all of his books.

I thought to myself, “Why would anyone bring home all his books on a Friday?”

“He must really be a nerd.”

I had quite a weekend planned (parties and a football game with my friends tomorrow afternoon), so I shrugged my shoulders and went on.

As I was walking, I saw a bunch of kids running toward him.

They ran at him, knocking all his books out of his arms and tripping him so he landed in the dirt.

His glasses went flying, and I saw them land in the grass about ten feet from him…

He looked up and I saw this terrible sadness in his eyes

My heart went out to him. So, I jogged over to him as he crawled around looking for his glasses, and I saw a tear in his eye.

As I handed him his glasses, I said, “Those guys are jerks.”

“They really should get lives …”

He looked at me and said, “Hey thanks!”

There was a big smile on his face.

It was one of those smiles that showed real gratitude.

I helped him pick up his books, and asked him where he lived.

As it turned out, he lived near me, so I asked him why I had never seen him before.

He said he had gone to private school before now.

I would have never hung out with a private school kid before.

We talked all the way home, and I carried some of his books.

He turned out to be a pretty cool kid.

I asked him if he wanted to play a little football with my friends

He said yes.

We hung out all weekend and the more I got to know Kyle, the more I liked him, and my friends thought the same of him.

Monday morning came, and there was Kyle with the huge stack of books again.

I stopped him and said, “Boy, you are gonna really build some serious muscles with this pile of books everyday!”

He just laughed and handed me half the books.

Over the next four years, Kyle and I became best friends..

When we were seniors we began to think about college.

Kyle decided on Georgetown and I was going to Duke.

I knew that we would always be friends, that the miles would never be a problem.

He was going to be a doctor and I was going for business on a football scholarship.

Kyle was valedictorian of our class.

I teased him all the time about being a nerd.

He had to prepare a speech for graduation.

I was so glad it wasn’t me having to get up there and speak

Graduation day, I saw Kyle.

He looked great.

He was one of those guys that really found himself during high school.

He filled out and actually looked good in glasses.

He had more dates than I had and all the girls loved him.

Boy, sometimes I was jealous!

Today was one of those days.

I could see that he was nervous about his speech.

So, I smacked him on the back and said, “Hey, big guy, you’ll be great!”

He looked at me with one of those looks (the really grateful one) and smiled.

“Thanks”, he said.

As he started his speech, he cleared his throat, and began

“Graduation is a time to thank those who helped you make it through those tough years.”

“Your parents, your teachers, your siblings, maybe a coach … but mostly your friends ….”

“I am here to tell all of you that being a friend to someone is the best gift you can give them.”

“I am going to tell you a story.”

I just looked at my friend with disbelief as he told the first day we met.

He had planned to kill himself over the weekend.

He talked of how he had cleaned out his locker so his Mom wouldn’t have to do it later and was carrying his stuff home.

He looked hard at me and gave me a little smile.

“’Thankfully, I was saved …”

“My friend saved me from doing the unspeakable.”

I heard the gasp go through the crowd as this handsome, popular boy told us all about his weakest moment.

I saw his Mom and dad looking at me and smiling that same grateful smile.

Not until that moment did I realize it’s depth.

Never underestimate the power of your actions.


19 Comments

have you become a gay?

whats tomorrows post, how to cook low fat blueberry fucking scones?

Comment by andy@cynic

the things you do always have an impact. you can choose which one you prefer…
i share the view that real friends are special. and i am not calling someone a friend unless we ve gone through something together and it actually turned out to be some kind of love connection (that, of course, has nothing to do with the tv-show). at the moment, they are either hundreds or thousands of miles away. and we meet face-to-face only occasionally. but the relationships have a depth. and i m happy someone invented satellites and optical fibre cables… as for the word friend… i always found that it is being used more flippantly in the english language than i have experienced it with the german word “freund”. but that might just be some subjective thing…
i m up for muffins, but no low fat please : )

Comment by peggy

for a long period of my life i struggled to understand the concept of friendship; too many times i felt let down. only recently have i become comfortable accepting that it’s ok for me to be selfish in regards to who i consider a friend. now, it’s something that needs to be earned, and that works both ways.

great post Rob.

Comment by Age

I’ve recently come to realise that the friends I made when I was a little kid are still the closest and best in my world – cause we’ve been thru lots of stuff together, cause we’ve been there for each other. They’re the closest to family in a way, because you know the affection is unconditional. They won’t just stop being friends over a disagrement one day.

Lots of people think that being outgoing or bubbly (oh, how I hate that word) = instant friends in a new city. hardly. there are people to party with, people to hang out with. but when things go wrong, as they did just yesterday and I spent the day feeling perilously close to tears – I only wanted to talk to my best friend at home, coz she’d instantly get it. and wouldn’t try to fake cheer me up either. ok. sentimental one here, and you know why I’m feeling this way at the mo. I agree w Peggy – there’s a moment of truth in friendships, and you know whether or not its worthwhile.
I’m lucky I have some amazing awesome people in my life.. The 200 people on facebook don’t classify as ‘friends’ – I’ve always had an issue w that!

Comment by Kaj

Oh absolutely. You never know when a simple nice word will do more than you could ever expect.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

A very nice post Robert though I found the first part of it even more powerful than the story.

The photo is very nice as well.

Comment by Lee Hill

*Emailed*

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Love the photo i’m so fucking cute !!!!!

Comment by Paul

rob, that photo looks like you have candles sticking out of your eyeballs. it’s adorable, but i did think of damien from omen. just for a second. 🙂

and i have to agree with lee – the first part for me was lovelier than the second, but it’s still a good reminder.

(BTW mr hill – you are awesome!)

Comment by lauren

fuck me youre right lauren. campbell is omen boy except his version of evil is to go soft rather than shit. and paul why the fuck are you wearing a tie aged 3? were you being groomed to be a fucking accountant or something?

Comment by andy@cynic

If you think that photo is cute Paul, maybe I should put the one with you in the bow-tie at Playschool up. Actually you’re safe … because in that same photo, I’m wearing what can only be described as a ‘Christmas Jumper’ and a fireman’s helmet … and whilst the former may be a euphamism for a shit item of clothing, the latter is an exact description, even though I am guessing this would upset you hugely!

Comment by Rob

I happen to be a very bad friend, which is why I don’t have very many friends. Over the course of the last couple of years the friends that I do have have been kind enough to keep an eye out for me which is great. I love them for it for they have saved me on more than one occassion.

I have a deep desire to have more friends but for some reason it is something I am incredibly poor at which makes inviting guests to birthday parties rather difficult – which is why I never celebrate my birthday.

I’m sorry. I’m in one of my moods. I’m feeling glum and a little bit ashamed that I haven’t been spending enough time around here (see above).

Eva often says to me: “We need to spend more time with our friends. We need to invest more in them. ” which is a conversation they I inevitably kill dead in the water by pointing out that her friends are not my friends – which is ties into what you mention above about being an expat.

I’m not moaning. It’s just the way it is.

I do feel terribly lonely sometimes. No, actually I feel terribly lonely most of the time which is why all this blogging nonsense is so important to me – which is why you are all important to me.

These are strange and difficult times.

Comment by Marcus

BTW – I’m divorced now. And poor.

Comment by Marcus

I notice that Damien even ate huge quantities of pie in his youth.

(I know it’s futile, but I second Lauren’s opinion of Mr. Hill)

Comment by John

opi! i have to get to work, but your comments made me feel very sad indeed and my heart goes out to you. as will an email a little later xx

Comment by lauren

you sounds fucking shit today marcus but divorceitus does that to you, its depression on steroids.

you want to feel good, you want to feel relief but once its all fucking official you end up with a wave of emotions and questions. but dont worry chum, the tsunami soon fucking passes and you feel your life belongs to you again.

till the next fucking divorce happens. then the next. then you go to a therapist called beer

Comment by andy@cynic

That’s exactly how it feels Andy.

Good Morning.

Comment by Marcus

I feel like we should send a collective hug to Marcus

Comment by Rob Mortimer

i feel like that too rob. count me in

Comment by peggy




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