Thoughts by Richard Bleil
Claude Steiner wrote “Warm Fuzzy Tale”, published in 1977. I heard about it, oh, maybe twenty-five years later. The lessons therein, though, seem like something lacking in society today.
The concept, as I understand it, is that people have the choice of giving off warm fuzzies, or cold pricklies. A warm fuzzy can be something very small. Every time somebody says “thank you” for something as easy as a server bringing a second drink, or smiling as you pass a stranger, or say a kind word to a friend or family member. A cold prickly, on the other hand, can be a judgment for somebody’s opinion that differs from yours, or taking your frustration for a bad day out on a cashier, or even swearing.
Every day we all give off warm fuzzies and cold pricklies on a regular basis, usually without even thinking about it. Yesterday, an older woman pulled into a gas pump behind me. In my mind, I started wondering if I should, or shouldn’t, but my mind was made up by her next act. See, she was walking towards the little store, and stopped to look behind her. She then turned to me and asked what the number of her pump was because where I was standing made it easier for me to see the number. I realized that she was going to prepay for her gasoline, so I told her to hang on and I’ll look. I walked to the pump, and put my card in, and paid for her fill-up. I don’t know if she needed it or not, but I just felt like doing something nice for someone, and that was her.
I’ve done this a couple of times before. Sometimes, like this example, was for no reason in particular, while other times there were triggers. While out with my last girlfriend, I stopped for gas. She as livid, because we were in an economically depressed neighborhood and it made her very nervous. I don’t tend to think that way; people are people. A man pulled up for gas next to me, and when he exited his car, he was clearly wearing medical scrubs. I struck up a quick conversation, and he told me he worked as a nurse. I have seen how difficult a job it is to be a nurse; the work is very dirty, stressful, and often they don’t get the respect they deserve, so I paid for his gas. She really didn’t like that, and I certainly got an earful as we drove off about how I was just ripped off. Really? If I paid voluntarily, even without being asked, was I really ripped off?
Maybe instead I’m making the world a little bit warmer and fuzzier. In this era, there is so much division and negativity that I can barely recognize what we have become. Politics, economic divide, crises, there is so much to argue in today’s world, and it seems like fewer and fewer people want to listen. There are so many cold pricklies and not enough warm fuzzies.
The interesting thing about doing nice things is that, while I hope they make the recipients happier, it makes me feel better. In 1981, in college, Kathy, a gorgeous young woman with jet black hair and eyes bluer than I had ever seen working the front desk of the dorm looked up at me and said, “Do you want to donate blood?” Being a typical guy, I panted, “uh, yeah, huh huh…” My motive may not have been as altruistic as I would like to pretend the first time, but I kind of became addicted to donating blood. Through the years, I’ve donated gallons of blood, platelets and plasma. I donated blood in the name of my grandfather, and just to help.
They don’t want my blood anymore. It’s not my age, but with the medical issues I’ve had, and the plethora of medications keeping me artificially alive, my blood just isn’t really the “good stuff” anymore, which, honestly, is kind of a shame since I am AB-, the rarest blood type there is and, according to a hypothesis I had read, also an indication that I’m not from this planet. Somehow, I tend to believe that one.
So, who is going to donate blood for me? I’m told that because of Covid-19, there is a blood shortage right now, but there is always a blood shortage. Apparently, people who want to live need it, and I have a suspicion that the vampire population is on the rise as well. The way this year has been going, let’s face it…that wouldn’t really be much of a surprise. But whether you donate blood or not, keep the warm fuzzies and cold pricklies in mind, and if you can, just spread a few more warm fuzzies around.