Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Silent, not Social Giant

Last September, I wrote about how social Olney's Giant is. No matter what time of day or night I go there, at least a few cars are parked outside with some customers and employees inside. I feel secure seeing others shopping there, especially before storms (stocking up on food), during sewage issues (buying bottled drinking water) and after blizzards (restocking food after being dug out).

One morning last spring, after plodding through school drop-off and Route 108 rush hour traffic, I entered Giant's parking lot ... and saw NO cars. Puzzled by the empty lot, I checked for emergency vehicles, which to my relief were absent. Still, the scene was eerie. Where was everyone? Was Giant closed at 7:30am? Have I entered The Twilight Zone?

I crept into the store and spied two people at the customer service desk. Relieved that I hadn't walked into a crime scene, I quickly picked up a few items and headed toward self-checkout. Just then another person cautiously tiptoed into the store.

"Is there anyone else here?" the customer peered about. "Oh good, another shopper!" She too had wondered if the store was closed or if something sinister was going on when she saw the deserted parking lot.

For once, the Social Giant was a more silent than social!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Random Act of Kindness: Roadside Assistance

After picking up my daughter from Rosa Park Middle School for a midday doctor's appointment, I turned onto Olney Mill Road ... and heard a loud screeching sound and smelled something burning.

Frustrated drivers behind me honked, like a tailgating red sports car that gunned loudly past. Slowly pulling to the side, I climbed out of the car and knelt down to peek underneath – but saw nothing dangling or dragging. My daughter also looked but saw nothing.

My mind raced with questions: 1) What caused the screeching and acrid smell? 2) Should I cancel the doctor's appointment and would I have to pay a cancellation fee? 3) When would I reschedule the appointment (which meant rejuggling my work schedule and interrupting her classes again)? 4) Should my daughter walk back to school while I stay with the car and decide what to do? 5) Should I just walk home? 6) How was I going to drive to errands and kids' activities later in the day?

"Excuse me, do you need any help?"

I stood up to see a young brunette lady who had parked her white car in front of mine. I quickly mumbled my jumbled thoughts and she nodded sympathetically, suggesting maybe I drive the short distance to Fletcher's. Embarrassed to take up her time, especially in my harried (and cursing) state, I thanked her and said I might try that.

"Well, if you need anything," she offered as she climbed back into her car, "please let me know."

I tried my car again, this time rolling a few feet in reverse and then forward -- without any screeching! Hey, I thought cautiously, maybe we can make it to the doctor's office on time. We slowly drove away, without any noise or smell.

Earlier that week, Olney had been pretty windy and maybe a blown-down stick was caught in the wheel well. Perhaps driving in reverse dislodged it. In any case, I was touched by this total stranger who stopped in the middle of a weekday, probably busy and on her way to work, home or on an errand. Her random act of kindness was not actually fixing my car, but offering help that made me calm down and stop cursing my bad luck.

To the young brunette lady with a white car who stopped to check on me and my daughter on Olney Mill Road on Thursday, June 9 at 12:55pm – thank you!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Getting on the RAK (random acts of kindness) bandwagon

The citizens of the Greater Olney community do good things all the time – so why do the not-so-good things seem to get more “air time” in today’s media-intensive world?

Introducing the Greater Olney Random Acts of Kindness (Greater Olney RAK) initiative – one community’s stand for kindness and greater good in the world. Designed to encourage positive interactions and elevate a more positive view of our world, Greater Olney RAK is a movement to encourage residents to perform good acts, recognize good acts, and experience the promise of a better world, at least in our little corner of it.

The Greater Olney RAK movement is about …
1.    Encouraging community members to perform random acts of kindness, small or large.
2.    “Turning up the volume” on the unsung good deeds within our great community.

The ultimate goal of Greater Olney RAK is to help foster a more positive and hopeful outlook toward people and for the world in which we live, starting with our community!

How do I join the Greater Olney RAK initiative? 

Do It …
Become a part of a silent brigade of do good’ers throughout the Greater Olney area by simply acting the next time you feel the urge to randomly help someone with a small or large act of kindness. Your actions could make someone’s day and can help to make our community even better. Do it when the moment strikes you. Do it when a needs presents itself. It’s that simple.

It’s important also to understand that Random Acts of Kindness come in all shapes and sizes. In fact, Great acts are made up of small deeds! They don’t have to be grand or costly, can be done at any time and can take as little as a few seconds to perform. The only requirement is that they have to be an expression of random kindness toward your fellow man, woman, child, or even animal.

Some examples of daily Random Acts of Kindness could include:                                                  
 (We hope they inspire you to think up a few of your own!)
    Simply smile at every person you pass throughout the day.
    Bake a few extra cookies for your neighbor as a surprise.
    Pay for coffee or a meal for the person behind you at the local drive-thru restaurant.
    Call a local charity and offer your services for a few hours.
    Anonymously buy dinner for diners sitting across the restaurant from you.
    Spend time picking up the trash in your community.
    Deliver flowers to a senior who might need some cheer.
    Write a note of thanks to a teacher or community service worker.
    Shovel your neighbor's walk after the next snow storm.
    Offer to mow an elderly neighbor's lawn.

For lots more ideas, check out the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation at

 See It …
Whether you’re the person doing it, seeing it, or receiving it, help us recognize it. Tell us about your Random Act of Kindness experience by emailing the details to The submission can be anonymous if you prefer. Simply share the details of the act by telling us the “who, what, when, why, where and how” of a recent Random Act of Kindness. Don't forget to note if you were the doer, observer, or recipient of the act. Anyone can report a good act. We want to hear from you!

 Feel It …
Doing good feels great. Random Acts of Kindness are meant to elevate the experience of life for residents in our community and beyond. Together, we can make people happy and help to foster a better world through Greater Olney RAK.

Great News!
To encourage this feeling, share your Greater Olney RAK news and it may be featured on the Greater Olney RAK Hall of Fame page in an upcoming issue of the Greater Olney News.
For more information or to learn more about partnering with or becoming a sponsor of the Greater Olney RAK initiative, email It’s time to start to KRANK UP THE KINDNESS!!


Sorry, Ma'am!

I'm happy to report that chivalry is not dead.
Today I had the interesting experience of a young man calling me “Ma’am” when he accidentally threw a toy towards me while playing catch with his daughter in the water at the neighborhood pool. “Sorry, Ma’am!,” he said. How nice! Except it wasn’t. The poor guy. I really let him have it. You see, at 54, I’m not quite ready to be referred to as “Ma’am,” especially by a 44 year old man. However, that interaction led to us talking and now I have a new friend. We tried to problem solve alternatives: “Sorry, Miss!” “Sorry, Mrs.!” Sorry, Ms.!” Nothing else seemed right. He admitted that he has worked for the military so “Ma’am” came naturally to him. He was nice enough to introduce me to his wife so we asked for her suggestions. She said, “Why not just say, ‘Sorry!’” Hmmmm. Is that better or worse? I can’t tell. Thoughts?

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Man's Best Friend Behind the Wheel

During the winter, I trudged through the Giant parking lot, pushing a cart of groceries when I suddenly did a double-take: I spotted this calm canine sitting in the driver's seat of a car. Normally I worry about dogs in cars but that morning, the temperatures were still in the 30's so I felt the pup was safe. Instead, I marveled at the familiarity of the dog's pose ...

... because this patient pooch reminded me of a parent waiting to pick up a kid from an activity -- an all-too-familiar scene here in Olney -- or of an empty-nester spouse waiting for his or her spouse to finish shopping. 

As I passed in front of the car, I saw the dog from a different angle -- he looked like he was actually driving the car! Like most humans, though, this canine looked a bit weary of endless carpools, pick-ups and drop-offs. I could almost hear him, "Ruff! Okay, where to next?"

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Post-Valentine's Day Advice for Couples, Part 2

To continue my list of dating tips from my previous post, I present Post-Valentine's Day Advice for Couples, Part 2:

1.     Dinner Date: Pick up takeout on a busy weeknight while the kids are either at an activity or at home doing homework.
2.     Shopping Date: Take the kids to the mall and then browse stores while waiting for them. Warning: this could turn into an Expensive Date if the couple decides to buy new and unneeded large-ticket items ... or an Ugly Date is the couple disagrees over the purchase.
3.     Environmental Date: Take old leaves, grass clippings, retired Christmas trees and large recyclables to the Transfer Station and unload them there.
4.     Travel Date: Give your partner a ride to the airport, train station or Metro station or, better yet, extend the date by continuing on the trip or commute with him or her.
5.     Serious Date: Go to the UPS Store to notarize official documents (like wills) requiring both of your signatures.
6.     Show or Movie Date: Leave the kids at home and see a show at Olney Theatre Center or a movie. The last time we tried this though, we ended up too tired for the late show of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The Force awoke but we turned around to go home and sleep.

So I urge all Olney couples to extend Valentine's Day romance throughout the year by seeking "date" opportunities in everyday life.

Post-Valentine's Day Advice for Couples, Part 1

After Valentine's Day few years ago, I posted dating tips for couples. Although Valentine's Day 2016 just passed, in order to keep the flames of romance burning here in Olney, I present more Post-Valentine's Day Advice for Couples, Part 1.

Many couples are too busy to hold regular Date Nights, so why not try to find date opportunities while running everyday errands together, preferably without the kids. Here are a few "dates" you can have as a couple:

1.     Exercise Date: Shovel mountains of snow after a blizzard.
2.     Adventure Date: Trek around the snowbound neighborhood to see if anyone has been dug out and can get out of the neighborhood.
3.     Good Samaritan Date: Help dig out and push a car stuck in a snowdrift.
4.     Cheap Date: Redeem Giant Gas Rewards Points at the Shell station by driving two cars there to fill BOTH tanks at a discount of $0.10-$2.20 off per gallon.
5.     Driving Date: Drive both cars to a garage, leave one car there for servicing, and then drive home in one car.
6.     Expensive Date: Drive back to the garage in one car to pick up the car you left there ... which ended up needing %&$@!-dollars' worth of repairs.