The Power of Nice The Power of Nice
I was listening to my all time favourite podcast ‘This American life’ and Ira Glass had done a piece about David Sedaris living in France (it’s called ‘Americans In Paris’)
Sedaris talks about his very unique attitude towards Paris, which i won’t go into here, but he has basically managed to make himself feel at home by creating safe spots for himself. What do I mean by ‘safe spots’? As Ira (we are First Name Buddies, yes) explains:
“ It is so traumatic to learn a new language that a lot of David’s experience of the city, a lot of his personal geography of Paris, has to do simply with where people are cruel to him when he speaks and where they aren’t.”
Sedaris makes a point of only going to the places where people are going to make him feel good; places where they remember him, notice and are kind to him. Like the hardware store. Here’s what he says about it:
“This is a hardware store where the owner and the people who work there are really, really nice to me. I buy things here all the time. And I buy things that I don’t even need just because they’re so kind. And they generally just start laughing right when I walk in the door. And then the owner will call his assistants out of the back room and say, “he’s back, he’s back!” And I buy things like– I bought a heating element so I could make tea in my hotel room, because I had to go to Germany. So I could go in and say:
“hello, I am looking for a stick that make the water hot, hot today.”
So I say really stupid things when I go in there. But I only say it in French. But they’re incredibly good sports. And I bought an ironing board. And I was able to say:
“hello, it has been three weeks. I bought an iron. Now, today, I look for a table that might work with my iron. Have you such a table?”
And he said, “ah, an ironing board,” and went and got one out of the back. But he’s really, really nice. And it’s a place I can always count on where somebody is going to be good to me.”
It is so lovely to listen to his description of this encounter and at the same time so sad. He loves this hardware store crew because they make him feel at home like Norm in ‘Cheers’ every time he walks through the door. They remember his name, details about him, they notice when he has been away and they ask him where he was. It means the world to him to be ‘seen’ in this way and they probably have no idea.
That’s the Power of Nice, right there. And as the saying goes, it costs nothing to be nice. We have grown up with the message that ‘it’s a dog eat dog world out there’ ; how beautiful it is to realise that more & more businesses are learning that in order to get ahead, you don’t have to trample on other’s backs but rather lend them a hand to help them up.
“Doing good things will improve your life..you cannot eat the whole pie or you’ll make yourself sick. Eat some, then give whatever is left to other people” – Jay Leno
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