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THE GOOD NEIGHBOR

Posted by Tim Bryce on August 17, 2012

BRYCE ON OUR CHANGING WORLD

– The joy and benefits of a little cooperation.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
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Every now and then I take an elderly friend home from my Masonic lodge (I’ll pick them up as well). If they need help getting into the house, I do so. If I am just dropping them off, I make sure they get inside the front door before I leave. For friends who are away from home on vacation or business, I check their houses at night to make sure everything is alright. If they ask me, I pick up their newspapers in the driveway as well as the mail. If they need to be dropped off at the airport or picked up, I’m glad to oblige. On a few occasions I have mowed the lawns for my neighbors when it got too long and someone failed to cut it. Every now and then I am called upon to help move something heavy at a neighbor’s house or assist in some awkward task, such as helping my neighbor get her gravely ill husband back into bed after he had fallen out. All of these acts are appreciated and not taken for granted by my acquaintances. I certainly do not expect any recognition or compensation for this other than they reciprocate in kind. However, most respond by remembering to buy me a good cigar which I certainly appreciate. I do not consider this an imposition as they are good friends and neighbors.

I am not sure where I learned to be a good neighbor, probably from emulating my parents who did likewise over the years. As I was growing up in the various communities throughout the United States there was always a sense of community, that you kept an eye out for your neighbor and helped out where needed. During the Great Snow of Chicago in 1967, the roads were clogged with snow. Adults and kids helped clear driveways, and checked on neighbors to make sure they were alright. Some would take sleds and trudge to the grocery stores to pick up basic food supplies, not just for themselves but many others as well. Everything closed down during that storm, including schools, businesses, transportation, etc. I have never seen anything quite like it since. This resulted in some of the best block parties as the neighbors were determined to socialize as opposed to being trapped in their houses.

Disasters, such as tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes and flooding, seem to bring out both the best and worst in us in this country. Sure there are those who loot and take advantage of emergency services unnecessarily, but most of us seem to be more than willing to lend a helping hand in the face of disaster, be it in distributing food and supplies, fixing a roof, using a chainsaw, clearing debris, offering transportation services, helping people find shelters, tending to pets, donating clothing, or whatever. How we respond is truly admirable. Such response represents our compassion for humanity.

I only wonder why it takes a disaster to behave this way and why we are not like this the rest of the year. Many people today believe volunteerism is for chumps and won’t extend the most basic courtesies to their neighbors, be it nothing more than a simple greeting. I fear though, common courtesy is no longer common, nor is it being taught by parents. I do it, not because of my parents or anyone else. I just realized it is the right thing to do, and believe it or not, it is not costly or painful. I certainly do not feel like a “chump” when I volunteer my services, and feel sorry for those who do not as they will never realize the benefits of cooperation.

As I write this, I am reminded of the old Frank Capra movie, “Meet John Doe,” starring Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck, where a grassroots movement is started to promote good citizenship. A John Doe philosophy then spreads like wildfire across the nation, and clubs sprang up to promote the concept of being a good neighbor. It may sound naive, but maybe we need some more John Doe Clubs to again learn to “Be a better neighbor.”

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:  
timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.


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SHAPETH UP AND GETITH THINE ACT TOGETHER – Some tricks of the trade for being productive.


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8 Responses to “THE GOOD NEIGHBOR”

  1. I don’t remember that particular film but you’re quite right about the need. Most of us ( my age) are accused of wearing Rose Tinted glasses when we talk about that boring old thing ‘When I were a lad’ but in truth things have changed and not for the better. Common courtesies are no longer exchanged in many places, manners are a thing of the past and respect (or Respek) is just a word touted by rap artists.Maybe it’s time to have some of these things taught as part of the school curriculum if parents no longer have the time to do it at home. Maybe the generation created by the current one will grow up with some of those old values again.

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  2. Tim Bryce said

    A W.A. of the Dominican Republic wrote…

    “Good article, Tim. I think this is another reason why we love living in this country. The Dominicans still have great respect for older people and will do anything to help you. It doesn’t matter to them that they might be living in poverty (which there are many just 5 minutes from us) if they are working on a home near us or other project for just 2-3 dollars a day, if you have a problem, and they see that you are struggling with something like a flat tire or you need them to just bring in a 5 gallon jug of water for the cooler, they will run to help you, even though you are living in a nice home with all the amenities and they might not even have electricity or water. They are proud to be Dominicans and love their country. They also can’t understand why in America, blacks call themselves African Americans. They think it is just plain “stupid”. They say to us, “doesn’t that just divide your country into 2 different groups”. I tell they that many of the blacks in the US want to cause division. We are a 14% minority here, but honestly Tim, there is absolutely no color division. The Dominicans are our friends and they love it when we try out our Spanish on them. They also love to learn English. The other thing is that in order to vote here (they just had the vote for the new president last month), you must have a photo ID called a Cedula, or you can’t vote. On the back of our Cedula it says “no vota” because because we are not citizens. We are legal residents, but in order to vote we would have to apply for dual citizenship. What is the big deal about having proof of citizenship in the US. Again, it’s just a race thing. Every day, as I watch the news, mostly Fox, we become more and more in love with the freedom here, which is much more than the US, and we love the flat tax. So we have no property taxes, no insurance needed because the homes are built to earthquake specs, and if you work here, it is up to the employee to take out the 10% tax from your payroll and report it to the government. They never have to file tax returns because it is up to the employer. There are many, many other reasons and my wife and I say to each other quite often that it is like we went back to the 50s and 60s, but have the modern conveniences. How can an emerging third world country have it more together than the US?”

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  3. Tim Bryce said

    An L.M. of Chicago, Illinois wrote…

    “Remember, no good turn goes unpunished. Just like the “John Doe Clubs” that sprang up in the movie, some pol will find a way to corrupt and redirect the good will efforts. They’re born to it.”

    Like

  4. Tim Bryce said

    A B.H. of Boulder, Colorado wrote…

    “Part of this comes from a time when we could leave our front doors unlocked, the keys in the car, and never worry about intruders or theft…of course, that would have been smaller town America in the 50’s and 60’s. Today, not so much. You can’t really do any of those things safely anymore, regardless of where you live.

    But, I think we both learned the same behavioral lessons from our parents. I still open doors for ladies, and even men who are carrying items that make it difficult for them to open the door themselves. I’ve helped a lady maneuver a wheelchair over a power cord at a concert when trying to leave after it’s over – mostly because I had to do the same thing when my wife was alive and in a wheelchair so I know what’s involved. Watching out for the neighbor – and neighborhood – is just common sense – as well as good “business” – business meaning keeping things safe.

    However, one thing I learned in the military that I TRY (don’t always succeed for various reasons) is when someone new moves in next door (or fairly close-by), I try to go over during the move-in part, introduce myself (and back when the kids lived with me, I’d either introduce them or let the neighbors know I had a couple of kids and their ages), and invite the family over for dinner after they said good-bye to the movers. Dinner wouldn’t be anything particularly fancy – spaghetti or soup and salad or something like that. I’d offer a glass of wine or bottle of beer or soft drinks – and just chat with them. Most of them are dumbfounded that anyone would do that – BUT – they are mostly just grateful to get away from the craziness and turmoil of unloading all their personal belongings and the chaos of trying to sort through boxes to find the essentials. That brief respite gives them a bit of relaxation, and it also lets both of us get to know each other a little better before you suddenly find yourself out in the yard and not knowing who your neighbor is.

    Interestingly, some of them actually pick up that tradition themselves when someone moves in near them – whether it’s at that particular house, or one they move into later in life.

    Never hurts to be a nice guy. And, when I hold a door for a woman, I’m not trying to impress her, I’m not trying to climb into her panties, and I’m not looking for a date. I’m just being the gentleman that my mother and father taught me was expected of anyone.”

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  5. Tim Bryce said

    A J.S. of Skidway Lake, Michigan wrote…

    “”I only wonder why it takes a disaster to behave this way and why we are not like this the rest of the year.”

    I have wondered about this since the 9/11 attack. In the weeks following the incident, people were extra kind to one another and the churches were full. Eventually, most became complacent and went back to being selfish. Maybe it does take a crisis to bring out our best behavior.

    We have been very blessed with good neighbors and have worked hard to be good neighbors. Volunteering is a rewarding experience and I’ve never felt like a chump. I have resented hearing others tell me “You have the time for that…I’m too busy.” In fact, each of us has exactly 24 hours each day and each makes choices about how to use that time.”

    Like

  6. Tim Bryce said

    A J.D. of Columbus, Ohio wrote…

    “I love being neighborly. I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone pay me for anything I’ve been happy to help out with–except a couple of zucchini’s and a plate of cookies here and there…sometimes it is just good to help and know they are thankful for it.”

    Like

  7. Tim Bryce said

    An H.S. of Las Vegas, Nevada wrote…

    “I love this post. I’m glad I live in a neighborhood where we’ve all lived there for years, know each other, look out for each other, help each other, and watch out for the kids – kind of like where I grew up.

    I think you’re right, “common courtesy isn’t that common any more” but it sure is a blessing when it happens. Usually once I make eye contact with a smile, people are wonderful. Otherwise, everyone seems to be in their own little bubble.”

    Like

  8. Tim Bryce said

    An M.M. of Dunedin, Florida wrote…

    “Common courtesy is a lost art. Sadly.”

    Like

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