I had originally planned to write a different article this week but a series of events that occurred over the past few days changed my initial direction. With so much negativity in the press, it is easy to forget about all the good that surrounds us on a daily basis.
The current state of American politics between the upcoming election, issues with racial understanding and police/citizen tensions have created a volatile situation and are polarizing topics across both local and national media. I honestly remember a time in college when I would stop watching the local news because it was dominated by so much hate and tragedy. “Why can’t we highlight some uplifting stories?” I would often wonder while reading headlines, a thought that I still consider to this day.
Yesterday, a local business owner named Rich Willis (who also happens to be my boss at Caleb&Broad and one of my closest friends), took time out of his day to take a 95 year old woman named Wanita on a motorcycle ride around town.
With some help, Rich was able to help Wanita get comfortable in the sidecar of his 1974 Jawa 350 motorbike and the two cruised around the city and took a spin around Ocean Drive. At 95 years young, Wanita was all smiles and spent most of the ride waving at excited on-lookers and asking Rich to go faster. As she was getting into the sidecar, Wanita exclaimed, “Im going for a motorcycle ride and all those others (her neighbors at the Village House Nursing Home) are in there sleeping!” The only people more excited than Wanita were the pedestrians that they passed on Thames Street who waved and snapped pictures of the two ‘wild hogs.’
As many of you know, my Monday night bartending shifts at Caleb&Broad are highlighted by two staples, our $10 entree deal and a witty meme that I created to poke fun at Rich. No matter what kind of internet sensation he becomes, he’s always a good sport about it and willing to joke along. Rich wouldn’t want me to write this article, as he would not want the added attention for something that he would do in a heartbeat any day of the week.
Instead, he did this random act of kindness purely out of the goodness of his character. Rich is the kind of guy that would take the shirt off his back for you even though his small/medium Baby Gap polo shirts wouldn’t fit a majority of us in town. I had a teacher in high school who would say, “if you give it to get it, you don’t got it.” Although the phrase is grammatically incorrect, its message rings true for philanthropy and good deeds and Rich’s actions epitomize its meaning.
Earlier this week, a Florida State wide receiver named Travis Rudolph made national headlines as a photo of him sharing a cafeteria table with an 11-year old autistic student went viral. Rudolph, who was visiting the middle school with teammates for a community service visit, saw Bo Paske sitting alone at a table and decided to join him for lunch. Rudolph did not know of Bo’s condition nor that his photo would be taken and shared with the mother of the student, who posted it to Facebook. Leah Paske, Bo’s mother, said that although Rudolph’s gesture “was so seemingly small” it meant the world for both her and her son; “I’m not sure what exactly made this incredibly kind man share a lunch table with my son, but I’m happy to say that it will not soon be forgotten. This is one day I didn’t have to worry if my sweet boy ate lunch alone, because he sat across from someone who is a hero in many eyes.” Travis Rudolph is a hero in my eyes and not because of his accolades on the football field.
Last year, I owned a small 24ft sailboat named ‘Good Karma.’ She was a fun little toy, especially for someone who’s favorite part of sailing is drinking. I often found myself considering what good karma means to me when I think about that boat. Karma isn’t something that you buy. Is a good deed that expects something in return still considered ‘good?’ Good karma is a lifestyle if anything rather than a reciprocal relationship. If you surround yourself with positivity and help others when they need it, you’ll have the same energy returned your way. Paying it forward is something that is so simple and something that can be achieved on a daily basis. A random act of kindness could mean more to someone than you would ever imagine, just like the Travis Rudolph story.
After reading Bobby Forster’s story on WhatsUpNewp late last night, I was touched by his courage and his overwhelmingly positive outlook. The article brought me to tears and truly put things in perspective. One of my favorite lyrics is from the 1998 hit single ‘Moment of Truth’ by Gangstarr. In the song, Guru raps, “Actions have reactions don’t be quick to judge, you may not know the hardships people don’t speak of. It’s best to step back, and observe with couth, for we all must meet our moment of truth.”
We all have our own personal battles that we fight on a daily basis and you never know what others are going through. It’s not hard to be nice to one another. It’s not always easy to do the right thing. But remember, at the end of the day in a world filled with bad, it’s refreshing to hear something good.
Tyler’s Two Cents: Thoughts from Behind the Bar is a weekly lifestyle column, written by Tyler Bernadyn. Tyler is a local hospitality professional, bartending at Midtown Oyster Bar Wednesday through Sunday nights on the Burgee Bar and at Caleb&Broad on Monday nights for their award winning $10 entree dinner special.
Tyler is a graduate of Providence College and a true Rhode Islander, born and bred.
Email him at TylerBernadyn@gmail.com and follow him on Instagram at @tylerbernadyn.