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Archive for the tag “prejudice”

Would you stop to help a drug addict up from the ground – at the side of the street?

Would you stop to help a drug addict up from the ground – at the side of the street? pablo-3

Photo by Pablo from Buffer

This morning on the way to a business meeting from our hotel, I was walking along a busy main street in downtown Orlando. Not 20 yards in front of the five of us an older gentleman with a walking stick started to stumble backwards, tripped, and fell backwards into the side of the street. How he did not crack his head open I will never figure out and how he mostly missed the huge puddles in the gutter had been an equally impressive feat. A co-worker and I tried helping him up when he proceeded to violently swinging his cane around. That is when I noticed his blank stare and his violent convulsions. He was clearly not right. I called 911 whilst trying to calm down the disoriented person.

The first 911 operator connected me with the fire department and that operator asked me so many questions that even my other business friends started to suspect that they really thought that it was not necessary to come out to see and meet with us. Just then we noticed another passed out individual right behind us, and another quickly fading person 40 yards up the walkway. What in the world had happened here? People were dropping like flies!

After what felt like 15 minutes, which was really closer to 6 minutes, a huge fire truck stopped by and three fire fighters proceeded to disembark. They calmly approached our gutter victim and then pulled him up by his arms. “K2. It’s a relatively new designer drug and they are all passing out because of it. We know them.” Aha, that really cleared up a lot. With the situation back in control of the fire fighters we hurried to get to our meeting as this excursion had made us late.

Good grief, this drug use issue is totally out of control! I just read one of the cover stories in a recent NY Times article that highlighted this sad upward trend. The graphs took my breath away. Would you have stopped to help these folks? How else can we help? It is a saddening situation that usually ends up making me feel helpless.

That is also where I stopped my brain’s senseless 360 degree circular thinking pattern. For starters we have to and we can help out immediately. Call 911 and get the person some immediate help. Long term may not be what I can personally help out with individually, but one thing that I can do is to look closer to home to family and friends. I can make sure that I provide a nurturing and supporting environment for the people whom I am close with. I did not say enabling, because that would be the wrong thing to do.

I can make sure that those key folks know that I love and care about them. I can get them to speak with a third party if they feel like that would more easily confide into someone else but me. My love, attention, and a smile do not cost me anything and yet those are the things that may one day prevent that a stranger has to stop in the middle of the street trying to help someone near and dear to YOU. What do you think?


How can the last ones be first?

How can the last ones be first? Bob W

Photo credit Amazon.com Bob Williamson went from being a homeless criminal to becoming a multimillionaire who now gives back whenever he can


That seems counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? Much like busy people seem to always have time for more tasks, I have encountered the phenomenon that the poorest people are most often also the most selfless and giving people.

What do I mean by that? I have been blessed to travel to Mexico and also Venezuela on business. You may guess that industrial areas are most often clearly not situated in world class places. The poverty I encountered was as mind boggling as humbling. For instance I recall workers helping me coax machinery into starting up asking me for my empty water bottles because they wanted to re-use (not recycle!) them. They were the most kind and professional people I have been blessed to work with. At one plant I had someone assigned to me driving me to and from the “apartment” (it took 5 keys to get into building, elevator, security gate, door lock, and dead bolt to get in and there was no hot running water). This gentleman took it upon himself to take me see his family, sight-seeing, and also guarding me while we were out and about in the city where tourists typically do not roam around. Carlos had so little and yet he gave so much and did not have to do that at all. How awesome is that?

When I now reflect upon how I treat guests and folks that do not have the means to afford much I take a moment and reflect upon Carlos’ example. I invite you too to ponder how blessed you are and how much you have and what you truly need. Please consider opening your mind, arms, schedule, and of course your wallet helping people make it through another day.

Why is that so important? The world can be depressing especially when you read and watch the news. Look how nasty we can sometimes be to our neighbors, people at the office and even in traffic. It is these little acts of kindness that turn all of that around and you have the power providing hope and a good feeling about yourself. Life does not need to be such a mess – most is just a choice you and I need to make. Make the right one, folks.


The little moments that make life really precious and bearable

The little moments that make life really precious and bearable Plane in snow

Sometimes life’s left hook can really deliver a hefty punch. When we get pummeled like this day after day, it can become quite discouraging. Just ask any road warrior who needs to do a lot of travelling by plane. When you muster a smile and make other people’s day just watch small miracles happen though. And it’s those little things that make it all worth it.

Just take days like today for example. I had to rearrange a lot of work and family stuff in order to make the short notice trip happen. Getting up at 3am I was greeted by a snow storm on the way to the airport. The closer I got the worse and deeper the snow got. Even the parking lot shuttle bus slipped and slid all the way to the terminal.

If you have been to Philly then you know that the morning rush of folks is met by only 1 to 2 open TSA gates (there are at least 8 gates there). Even though I have TSA PreCheck card and thus usually click on that when booking flights, I was informed that a online randomizer either places the pre check on the boarding pass or it does not. Today I did not luck out at all. It took me about as long to go through the main security check line as it did to drive through the snow storm getting to the airport.

Because we were the first flight out it helped getting boarded halfway on time. I had not seen this much snow lying on the wings. 40 minutes later we took off after a thorough deicing. Of course the plane needs to “drive” about ½” at PHL airport to what feels like a ride to Camden NJ. In Philly the deicing stations are stationary instead of using mobile units. Did I mention that the plane ride was pretty rough?

Getting to Detroit a meeting with a prospect turned into something completely unexpected and a lot more work will need to be done on the proposal before it can be resubmitted. The meeting that was supposed to last for quite some time was over within less than one hour. Stick with me, the good part of the story is to come.

Trying to get gas for the rental car turned into a funny walk all the way around the vehicle and even a close inspection of the interior did not reveal how to open the gas door. I had to actually consult the manual to figure this out. Fascinating. Curious what the best part of the day way? Hold tight.

Since the afternoon opened up I went back to the airport trying to get an earlier flight home. First I stood in the wrong line. Finally standing in the correct check in line I encountered a nice gate agent who took his time trying to check me in with the electronic check in machines. Much to his dismay, for whatever strange reason it did not let me re-book my flight with it. Then he directed me to a check in clerk. What a sweet lady. I greeted her nicely and she assisted me in getting a new ride home. She was totally hug worthy and I let her know that. Big smiles!

Are you ready for the best part of my day? Well, the day needed to get a little worse before it could get better. The flight I got was supposed to leave around 3 hours earlier than the original one that I had been on. Due to more bad weather the flight ended up being delayed by about 2 hours. Oh well. I had a delightful conversation with an airline pilot.

Boarding time finally rolled around and then a little gesture with a very big impact finally caught my eye: The check in agent had upgraded me from garden chair tourist class all the way in the back of the plane to new business economy class all the way up front: Zone 1! Wow, a total act of random kindness that will be with me for quite some time. All this took was to treat the check in agent with dignity and respect. All it took was a smile, and why wouldn’t we do that?

Remember my friends, that most check in and gate agents for instance have very little to do with the actual flights taking off or landing on time. I can only recommend that you treat them with dignity, compassion, and empathy. Who wants to deal with grumpy people all day? They are doing that day in and day out, unfortunately. Your kindness can be like a little single snow flake setting off an avalanche of good deeds. Give that a try and watch what happens. Life will be much more bearable and dare I say can be really fun.


What will it take for you stopping what you are doing, stand up, and make a difference?

What will it take for you stopping what you are doing, stand up, and make a difference? Ralf a

When you really think about it there is rarely a week that goes by where we come across people that need our help, or encounter situations that just do not sound ethical. Plain and simple: We face a choice of do I stop and do I do something about it or not? Most often we ignore the nagging thoughts and move on. We regret it later though. Don’t we?

Writer Jeff Goins described such a situation in his book “Wrecked – When a broken world slams into your comfortable life”. On a trip to Spain he encountered a homeless man who begged for his help. All he wanted was a little food. Jeff ignored him – at first. After having walked away from the man, his conscience told him to go back and do something about the man’s request. What happened next changed Jeff. He got the man a meal at a local McD and they sat down and talked. The man shared one pivotal sentence with Jeff: “You were the only one who stopped”.

Apparently, the man had gotten stuck in Spain coming from Germany after losing vital paperwork and he had been homeless for about a year. The man claimed that no one ever stopped to give him a meal like Jeff had. Jeff pondered the question how that could have been possible in a large civilized city in Western Europe? Would you have stopped?

This story reminded me of a much smaller scale challenge while being in the German Army. During a maneuver in Northern Germany with various tank battalions, I had been assigned to a wheel and track maintenance unit. A sister unit with smaller tanks called for our help getting a stuck tank out of the sandy area of Bergen Belsen (yes, that’s close to the former concentration camp and worthy another blog post).

All our crews had already set up camp, gotten their showers, and were enjoying their free time. Our maintenance truck’s crew consisted of my commander and a buddy of mine. We reached the stuck tank that had been surrounded by a few other supporting vehicles such as a tank retriever and amongst others, our battalion chief and the commanding officer of the sister battalion.

What a mess this was. A newbie tank commander and his newbie tank driver had attempted steering out of a sandy area and gotten both tracks to come off the front wheel. Both tracks were totally jammed between the tank’s body and the drive wheels. The tank retriever could not retrieve it with tracks that could not go anywhere. Bottom line: The tracks had to be freed and put back into their correct places.

Yet, no one – not even the top leadership – would or could help the tank crew figure out how to get this done. A whole lot of well-meant advice went back and forth. “Should”, “Could”, “Maybe”, “Normally”, “Usually”, “Perhaps”, etc. were the key words. After ten minutes of bantering and bickering I had had enough. I asked the tank retriever guys to stand by with their vehicle and the tank crew to please get the tracks disconnected. After about 40 minutes we had disconnected both tracks, gotten them cleaned off sand, put back on the drive wheels, re-connected them. Finally, the retriever could drag the stricken tank back out of the sand and back on the road.

Afterwards, I asked myself how in the world a low ranking draftee like me could figure this out and implement a solution whilst all the top brass and more experienced leaders had been incapable, or unwilling to do so. The answer is as simple as Jeff’s story would indicate. All that was needed was someone finally getting up, taking a stand, and do something about a challenging situation.

That is one reason why I have an extra $100 in my wallet at all times. I do not consider it my money. Whenever I come across folks who obviously need the money more than I do I can give it to them. It always was theirs to begin with. You will not believe how much of a difference this money can make to a person who may be losing faith in God and mankind, or worse: losing hope. It does another thing for you. Your awareness to what is really going in other people’s lives will forever change your point of view about wrecked lives and how much of it happens right in front of our eyes. We just do not open them wide enough to see it.

This is also my call to action. Please make a habit to give someone renewed hope by stopping and actually doing something selfless for them. Pay it forward my friends and live a life without regrets.


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