One day, two extremes
Feb. 8, 2016
by Ivan Raconteur

I am often fascinated by human behavior.

My observations during the course of a day last week reminded me just how widely human behavior can vary.

It was the morning after the recent snowfall.

I rolled out of the rack at the new bachelor estate and padded down the hall to put on the coffee.

When I arrived in the kitchen, I discovered that one of my new neighbors had already been over with his snowblower and cleared my entire driveway.

This was a welcome sight. I have not yet purchased a snowblower, and as much as I enjoy Minnesota winters, I confess the prospect of clearing the driveway with my trusty new shovel did not exactly fill me with joy.

It was quite a pleasant surprise to find that it had already been done.

What made it even more notable is that I had not yet met this neighbor.

I’m confident he had other things he could have been doing on that cold, dark morning, but he saw an opportunity to do something nice for a neighbor, and did it.

I toddled out to introduce myself and thank him for his kindness.

He seems like a good guy, and meeting him reinforced my feeling that I will be happy in my new neighborhood.

His simple act of kindness started my morning with a smile and put me in a good mood for the day ahead.

People like my new neighbor, who go through life looking for opportunities to do things for others, make things brighter for everyone around them. It is not too much to say they make the world a better place.

Sadly, there are people on the other side of the spectrum, as well.

I was reminded of this later in the day when I drove into the city to transact some business.

While on my journey, I found myself in a line of cars behind a snowplow.

This didn’t bother me, because I understand about snowplows.

We live in a climate in which snow is a fact of life.

The only way to make the roads safe for all of us is to plow the snow off the roads.

Plow operators have an extremely difficult job, so I am happy to give them plenty of room to do it.

Being behind a plow in traffic may be a minor temporary inconvenience, but it is essential for the common good, and I believe most people understand that.

There was one person on the road that day who clearly did not understand it, however.

When this moron came upon the rear of the line of vehicles behind the plow, he immediately began honking his horn to express his impatience.

He kept this up for awhile, and at his first opportunity, he sped past the line of cars, honking persistently as he did, like a petulant child.

Not only did his behavior put other motorists at risk, but he came dangerously close to the plow as he swerved back into the right lane to get ahead of it.

The imbecile who passed the plow clearly thought he was more important than everyone else on the road.

He didn’t care about the safety of others. He only cared about himself.

People like that are a menace to public safety, and should not be allowed the privilege to drive on public roads.

The plow-passing, self-centered swine I observed in the city stood out in stark contrast to my neighbor and people like him who go out of their way to help others.

My first thought, observing the incident of apparent road rage was that it would be a favor to all of us if someone were to rip the arms off the miscreant and use them to beat his empty little pin head down between his shoulders.

Then, of course, I remembered I am not a violent person, and would not wish that fate on anyone, no matter how much he might deserve it.

Responding to anger with anger would be sinking to his level, and that would do no one any good.

Instead, I chose to feel sorry for the plow passer.

His must be a sad little life. I doubt he finds much happiness, since the rest of the world apparently does not measure up to his high opinion of himself.

Rather than dwelling on this sadness, I chose to focus instead on the people who spend their days finding ways to make life better for others.

I rejoiced in the fact there are more people like this in the world than there are of the other kind.

It occurs to me each of us has a choice.

No matter what kind of situations or challenges we face, it is up to us to choose if we will let it get us down, and spread anger and misery, or if we will take the high road.

If we make the decision to look for ways to make things better for others, chances are we will not only make those around us happy, but we will be a lot happier ourselves.

My hat is off to my new neighbor and all the other kind souls who are out there setting a good example for the rest of us.

Advertise in over
250+ MN newspapers