During these challenging times, it’s important to reach out to friends, ask how they’re doing and let them know you’ve been thinking about them.
Lately, however, friends have told me, “Yes, I’m fine. I was fine when you called yesterday and the day before and the day before, and ….” So I decided to reach out to other people who might need some friendly words and support.
- I contacted the kid who bullied me in the third grade. I think he still feels bad for stuffing my head in the boy’s room toilet, because he only halfheartedly professed not to have remembered the incident that forever emotionally damaged me. Interesting though, he now works for Roto Rooter.
- I made a point of making sincere eye contact with a guy who lives one floor below me. We’ve never spoken to each other even though I’ve mumbled “hi” underneath my mask. I’m afraid I may have frightened him, because he reported me to the condo board.
- I emailed a former workmate who I’m almost positive stole my yogurt from the break room refrigerator in 2003. She remembered. In fact, she immediately responded, “I didn’t take your damn yogurt. It’s time to let it go.” That’s the kind of toughness that will sustain her during these trying times.
- I tracked down a woman with whom I had one Tinder date. I forgave her for not looking like her profile picture. She forgave me for accidentally posting a photo of Brad Pitt. We both wished each other well and told each other to stay safe.
- I once threatened a high school acquaintance because he, not I, was voted Most Friendly in our senior class. I wished him well and told him we’re all in this together, as I was being arrested for violating a still-active restraining order.
- I called my former dog walker and offered her a heartfelt virtual belly rub.
- I gave an extra friendly hello to a Walmart greeter whom I had shunned after I realized I wasn’t the only person to whom he was being nice. I also plan to find out where he lives and greet him when he arrives home — from a safe distance, of course.
- A few years ago, I crashed into a woman driving a car, totaling mine. The insurance company ruled in her favor, thus raising my rates for years. I called her, apologized for appealing the judgement 38 times, and assured her we’re going to be okay.
- A few weeks back, a man in a public restroom got very upset with me when I noted he only sang Happy Birthday one and a half times while washing his hands. I never got his name, but I left a message on Craigslist saying I’m pulling for him.
- And finally, I sent a warm note to a local actress I once saw portray Nurse Ratched in a community theatre production of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” because we should support ALL our healthcare professionals.
Ben Alper writes for late night talk show hosts, comedians and things. He is the author of “Thank You for Not Talking: A Laughable Look at Introverts.”