Small surprises

I love leaving small surprises for people. Not like gifts, but things that might make their day a tiny bit easier. For instance, I love emptying the dishwasher, yet leaving the “clean” light on, so when my husband goes to empty it, there’s no work to be done. I love paying twice the toll at toll booths, and telling the operator that I’d like to pay for the car behind me. I don’t have time to do big things, like volunteer (hello, two jobs and two kids), and I don’t have the money to do big things like philanthropy. (Though my husband hates when charities get me on the line, because I almost always give them money. And don’t get me started on when the fire department comes to the door.)

But then I read this article about people paying off layaway balances, and it made me cry.

I wish I could do this. Can you do this? You should do this.

I want to drive to Kmart right now and do it.

In a day and age where people are violently assaulting each other to grab an XBox, it’s nice to read an article about people doing good, too.

Demonstrating Strength

On my desk at work, I have this little list printed out. I got it from Seth Godin’s blog, but I can’t seem to find the entry again, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.

The list is titled “Demonstrating strength.”

The first thing on the list is, “Apologize.”

I love that.

The funny thing about apologies is that they seem to represent weakness. You’re admitting a failure, not only to yourself, but to someone else.

But they don’t really represent weakness. It takes a lot of guts to apologize. To genuinely apologize. How much gumption does it take to BS about something? To throw someone else under the bus? To make up a little white lie about why something wasn’t done, or why you acted the way you did?

I’ve been thinking about apologies a lot lately, especially since we’ve had this roofing problem in my house for YEARS. We’ve paid one roofing company $4,000 to replace our roof, then another $4,000 to repair our roof, and we’re still having a leaking issue. The insurance company sent out a new guy who gave us a quote to rebuild the back section of our roof for a third time — for another $2,000.

I called the original roofing company. What did I have to lose, right?

I wasn’t a bitch. I didn’t go in screaming at the owner. I just said, “Hey, we’ve paid you guys $8,000, and our roof is still leaking. Can you do anything?”

She came out yesterday to figure out the problem. She agrees that we need a flat roof system instead of the shingles they originally installed. It would have cost more money for them to originally install a flat roof system, but you know what she told me yesterday?

She apologized.

And then said they’re going to rebuild the back roof. For free.

That took strength. And money. It cost her something.

But you know what? It’s going to earn them a customer for life. And a considerable amount of word-of-mouth.

A heck of a lot better than a little white lie, huh?


Crits for Water: The Elemental brothers would approve

So who’s looking for a critique? Who’s looking to help people on the other side of the world?

Guess what? You can do BOTH.

Kat Bauer, who is an amazing person to begin with, is running a series on her blog to raise money for Charity: Water.

For everyone who donates $10, we’re doing a random drawing to win a 5,000 word critique from me (and I’m thorough, people). If you don’t win my critique, Kat is still giving away a 2,500 word critique to everyone who makes a donation. So either way, you win. Win win. Or, as Michael Scott would say, win win win.

Now that I’ve typed “win” so many times, it’s starting to look misspelled.

Here’s the link to enter the drawing:

Here’s a link to an interview that awesome blogger Mary Kaley did on my critique style.

In case you don’t know anything about Elemental, it features four brothers who can control the elements of water, fire, earth, and air. (Each brother controls a different element.) Christopher Merrick, the youngest brother, controls water. He’s the star of Elemental.

Chris would totally be down with this drawing.

Even if you don’t want a critique, consider making a donation. It’s ten dollars. Ten dollars will provide clean water for one person for TEN YEARS.

Go. Click. Donate. If nothing else, you’ll feel better about yourself for doing something right.