People Are Nice

stop and smell the bathroom

People are nice, and I have proof.

I took advantage of this last, long weekend (created by me taking off work on Friday and Monday) to travel to Michigan to see my family.  My modus operandi is to break up the 6-8 hour trip by stopping at McDonalds for beverages every 2 hours, and at rest areas for beverage relief on the off hours.

My bladder recommended a stop at the rest area in Michigan City, Indiana.  After taking care of bizness, I was washing my hands and examining my pasty, road-trip-rumpled self in the mirror when a dash of color in the otherwise bland bathroom caught my eye.

There was a vase of bright, pink wildflowers on the ledge above the sinks.

Apparently one of the cleaning ladies at this institutional way station thought that a touch of pretty might brighten the moment for road-weary travelers.  She was so right.  By going above and beyond the call of duty, she made us all feel welcome.

What really struck me, however, was the response to this simple, little bit of grace.  

Someone had taken the time to write a thank you note to the anonymous cleaning lady.  Another traveler, seeing the first note, added her own.  A mini-wave of notes was started and now there were about a dozen arranged around the vase.

Many notes described the writer’s journey.  Some thanked the cleaning lady.  Yet another complimented the cleanliness of the bathroom. Many offered wishes for safe trips to their fellow travelers.  Those without paper added a line to someone else’s note.  This “Kilroy peed here” exchange had been going on about a week.  The cleaning lady had obviously been inspired to keep up the practice because the flower arrangement was fresh.

I thought about 2-dozen strangers, digging in their purses to find a scrap of notepaper, the back of a bank envelope or old receipt, and something with which to write.  We all wanted to join in this spontaneous bit of fellowship with total strangers. 

My note is the farthest on the right in the photo.  What did I say?  To find out, you’ll have to take a detour to Michigan City, Indiana.  Once there, be sure to take the time to stop and smell the flowers… in the ladies rest room.

About pegoleg

R-A-M-B-L-I-N-G-S, Ram...Blin!
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41 Responses to People Are Nice

  1. notquiteold says:

    This is super nice! To think that a restroom visit could give such a sweet pleasure. It’s almost worth the trip.


  2. In a blogosphere full of rigid opinions shared in nasty ways, this is a rare ray of sunlight – but in the best pegoleg style. I’d go see this for myself but I’m sure Indiana law frowns on men in women’s washrooms, ostensibly to “check out the flower arrangement.”


  3. bigsheepcommunications says:

    I LOVE this story. Reminds me of a website (can’t remember the name) that encourages people to leave post-it notes with positive thoughts in various public places – restroom, a table in the library, wherever. Amazing how much a tiny note of appreciation can make a difference : )


  4. Tori Nelson says:

    I love this. I need a reminder that people aren’t awful all the time 🙂


  5. Seasweetie says:

    I love this. It’s the most inspirational thing I’ve seen all week.


  6. I love it! What a shock to see something so nice at the most unexpected place.


  7. Jane says:

    Beautiful story! It is a wonderful reminder to us all to “be the change we want to see.” Thank you for writing this very imprtant post!


  8. Tar-Buns says:

    I bet that was a refreshing touch on your long, weary travel, that helped get you through the last third of your trip. By the way, it may not have been a cleaning lady – it might have been a cleaning man. Nice touch, nontheless. You’re right – we have to be the change we want to see. I’ll be writing that on a post it note to myself. 🙂


    • pegoleg says:

      It seemed like something a woman would do, but I may be guilty of sexism. It was a sweet touch on a long, very hot trip home on Monday. Great to see you this weekend, Tar!


  9. Margie says:

    I think the people who left the notes in the bathroom are the same kind of people who leave comments on blogs – people who take the time to say they notice what you are doing!


  10. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    Wonderful Idea! Such a way to connect with others on their travels! Oh, I loved reading this post! I’m going to start doing that more often myself.


  11. What a lovely, small way to make someone smile and carry it on. I may have to look for some opportunities in keeping with the spirit of this attendant’s minor act and the graciousness of the people who left notes to thank her. I bet she never thought that would happen. Brightening someone else’s day must wind up brightening her own every time she gets a new note!


    • Tar-Buns says:

      Amen to that. It cheers me, makes me smile, seeing the joy this little gesture of thoughtfulness has bestowed, and by virtue of this post, sharing that piece of joy with others. Thanks Peg!

      May we all share that bit of joy we have in us, to reap the rewards of “paying it forward”, daily. That is the challenge – to be kind and thoughtful, even when not required. Lovely.


  12. Big Al says:

    Great story. It reminds me of that old saying “bloom where you’re planted.” Here’s a person with a fairly menial job who takes pride in it and wants people to know it. I’d be willing to bet that most people who stop there treat that “space” with a little more respect because of this person’s pride.


    • pegoleg says:

      I was staying in a hotel with my sister Mary Kay a few years ago, and as we were leaving I noticed she left a note on the dresser with some money. The note said “thanks for your hospitality” with a smiley face. I said it never occurred to me to tip the maid and she replied that they have one of the lowest paid jobs, and it never hurts to show someone some appreciation.

      Now I always do the same – thanks for, once again, setting a good example Big Sis!


  13. Amy says:

    What an awesome little surprise to stumble upon! I think that most people, individually, are nice. It’s just when we gather into groups that something sinister happens. I hope this happy-flower-note tradition spreads to other restrooms across the country.
    An interesting experiment would be to see if flowers placed in the men’s room illicited a similar response.


  14. Deborah the Closet Monster says:

    Damn it. I now need to rummage up a tissue-style piece of paper, because my eyes are leaking.

    Leaky eyes be damned, I’m glad you stopped in Michigan City, and doubly glad you documented your stop here.


  15. How lovely. Thanks for reminding me why I’m an optimist!


  16. MKC says:

    Just sending a little note to tell you how much your written words brighten up our days!


  17. John Hunsinger says:

    It would be nice to see something in a rest area other than ” Here I sit all broken hearted……..” good job to you for leaving a note. kind of like that movie. Pay it foward.


    • pegoleg says:

      It was JUST like that movie, except that my note mainly pointed out how thin and scratchy the toilet paper was.

      I’ve never seen a sign like “Here I sit..” in a public restroom. You need to start frequenting a better class of toilet.


  18. egills says:

    That’s an awfully long way for me to go and read it 😦
    What a lovely thing to do!


  19. Terrasidius says:

    brilliant! i love this kind of thing. But ill bet the Mens isnt as nice, Womens are always nice Mens are grotty and have rude grafitti all over lol.


  20. Sandy Sue says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this, Peg. It reminds me that I can make a difference in someone’s day with small acts of kindness.


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