by Dave Markwell

While enjoying a ribald boy’s weekend experience a few weeks ago, in between beers, meat and cards, I had a conversation with a buddy. Eric, (Erock to his friends) is an old and good friend. He’s a smart, terrific guy who is always interesting to chat with.

Sitting in our lawn chairs on the freshly mowed grass lot overlooking a river in Eastern Washington, Erock and I were discussing many things, most of which I can’t remember due to the beers I was taking a break from. However, one item I took a special note of:

Erock said that every time he sees a kid selling something in front of a store, he buys. Candy bars, popcorn, cookies, it doesn’t matter. He told me that he made a commitment to purchase whatever item any kid sitting in front of a business he was patronizing was selling. He mentioned that he chats with the kids a little bit to ease their awkward nervousness about having to ask strangers to buy something from them. He listens to their stories and makes them feel better about being in an uncomfortable spot.

Having been one of the kids sitting in front of the store a few times, I can say that this is pretty cool. A human being deliberately and intentionally recognizing a unique moment to be kind, and acting consistently upon it, is pretty amazing. As mentioned, Erock is a good guy, so it’s not surprising that he does this, but, a larger concept struck me regarding our gross lack of awareness of the wonderful, little anonymous gestures good people do.

The good people do good things all the time, often unrecognized and unknown. This is pretty inspiring to me. While evaluating whether I do anything good that I don’t pay much attention to, but might parallel Erock’s commitment, I couldn’t come up with much, except that I pray for roadkill.

Yes, you read that right…I pray for roadkill. I started doing this probably twenty years ago. Every time I see a smashed possum, raccoon, squirrel, cat or dog on the highway shoulder, I say a little prayer for them. I don’t really remember the genesis of this idea. I think I began praying for these animals because I wasn’t sure if anyone else was, so it seemed like the right thing to do. And many years, varmints, vermin and pets later, I’m still doing it.

Few people know about this goofy little habit which leads me to wonder about others. What don’t we know about each other? What kindnesses do we, intentionally or unintentionally, hide? How well do we know each other? My suspicion is: not very well. I’m comfortable with this, but I was also touched by Erock’s story.

It seems, in this world, we often judge harshly. We place much value on the negative and don’t give much thought to what may lie beyond the obvious. In a hasty moment, we clearly and confidently define a person’s heart. The problem is that we’re often wrong. This is too bad. I suspect we miss much. Most people are deeply good and leading with this presumption would solve a lot of problems. This is a simple yet complicated truth and one worth making a habit of understanding. It may be easier said than done, but it’s worth giving a shot.

However, to hedge my bet while being unsure of the timeline to create such a transformational evolution, I’ll keep praying for flat rats, too…

[EDITOR’S NOTE:”Feel Good Friday” is a regular column written by Des Moines resident Dave Markwell, whose first book is called “A Feel Good Life” (buy it on Amazon here). Dave also extols to all neighbors: “Enjoy where we live. Put your feet on the pavement and truly feel how great it is to live here!” Also, you can “friend” Dave on Facebook here. Or work out with him at his exercise company Waterland CrossFit!]


One Response to “FEEL GOOD FRIDAY: Flat Rats.”
  1. Mysty beal says:

    Whoa, whoa, Dave – you forgot your simple kindness of starting our days with such positive reinforcement when we wander, bleary eyed and catatonic, into your CrossFit studio. Makes those hideous sit-ups and burpees worth my time!

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