A Simple Idea that Can Change All The Grumpy People You Live Around

First, get out your hankies. Then, consider what would happen if everyone in town could thank and encourage each other via a public message board. That’s what one anonymous Canadian wondered, and so he or she started a website (and Facebook account) called “Spotted in Windsor,” in Ontario.

It was inspired by a similar site the local university created, according to metronews.ca. Most of the posts are positive, but not all. They run from, “Lost, one necklace,” to, “To the jerk who ran over my toe with his shopping cart,” to notes like this from yesterday:

I was walking through Wal-Mart this morning doing some regular shopping with my two daughters…We were joking about how quickly we can shovel…We talked about what I was going to make for dinner today and joked about how we pick the person who is going to have to do dishes. We played some I spy with my eye as we walked through the aisles…

After we paid for our stuff and made our way towards the exit, this man who was standing there with his 1 daughter stopped me and his daughter handed me an envelope. I asked what this was for and they said “it’s a gift just because and we would like it if you accepted it. There is a note inside explaining why.” His daughter asked if she could hug me and I said yes so she did and I felt such a warm hug. We said bye and went on our way.

When I got into the car with my girls I opened this card up. It said “just listening to you talk to your daughters reminded me of my mother who I lost 2 years ago. I made my dad follow you around for a little so I can hear you guys talk because I wanted to pretend that it was my mom talking to me. Please accept this gift card of $20 just because you made our day. Have a great Sunday and thank you.”

I am in tears while I type this to submit it because I do not think you know what you have given me. You just assured me that I am a great mother even though sometimes every parent questions themselves. But, you also showed me how amazing people are in my city and how glad I am to be able to feel the hugs of my daughters. I am sorry you lost your mom at such a young age and I wish I had your contact information because I would love to take you for a coffee one day. If you do see this please email me gilligan7723@outlook.com. Share this if you could in hopes this girl sees it. There is no name or anything else in the card.

Signed,  A mother who was really touched

What if we all started message boards like this for our towns or neighborhoods? Perhaps they’re already all over the place and I’m the last to know. (This would not surprise me.) But if you do start a “Spotted in _____,” please tell us! It could be just the thing to turn anxious, grumpy, worst-first thinkers into Free-Rangers who see that most people (shopping cart aggressors notwithstanding) are pretty good. And thank you to reader C.J. for bringing this to our attention. – L

Why are those people following me around Walmart???

Why are those people following me around Walmart???

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30 Responses to A Simple Idea that Can Change All The Grumpy People You Live Around

  1. SKL January 12, 2015 at 11:17 am #

    Aww! What a great post. And what a great idea.

    I hardly ever have the TV on around here, but sometimes my kids hear “the news” when someone else is watching it. They ask me to tell them more about the father who threw his little son off a bridge, or the group that murdered an office full of cartoonists in Paris. I try to convince them that those stories are not the norm, and that I don’t watch news because it is so unbalanced. You never see a news story about a mom taking her kids out for lunch and having some nice chats. But that’s what most families are doing, at least some of the time.

    That’s one thing I do like about facebook. People just sharing the good stuff that they do and that is done for them. I do a lot of “liking” on positive facebook posts. (And I unfriend the people who constantly post “oh woe is me.”)

  2. Anna January 12, 2015 at 11:50 am #

    Well, that’s not very nice, SKL. Not everyone has an (I’m assuming) comfortable and pleasant life like you do. Some people have emotional issues, health problems, or just a lot of bad luck and may need a shoulder to cry on. Isn’t that what friends are for? Sad friends are not the same as negativity in the news. Also, ordinary people doing ordinary things is not news.

  3. Mandy January 12, 2015 at 12:10 pm #

    I love this post. I’m sitting here with tears in my eyes as I write. Tears for the young lady who lost her mom and tears for the woman who is a wonderful mom. Both received happiness from their encounter. I think it is so uplifting to hear the good things that happen and love the pay it forward movement. Let’s strive to do more of this in 2015.

  4. C.J. January 12, 2015 at 12:23 pm #

    Spotted in Windsor has encouraged a sense of community in this area. It is nice to see the person responsible for bringing this to the Windsor area be recognized for their good work. It looks like you linked the wrong Metro article to the story Lenore. Though that one brought a lot of attention to Windsor too, lol.

  5. Jill January 12, 2015 at 12:39 pm #

    Seriously, Anna? Seriously? You seriously upbraided SKL for unfriending people on Facebook?
    Newsflash: Facebook is a money-making device that masquerades as a network of “friends.” Sure, it’s a way to share cupcake recipes and information about your whitewater rafting trip and pictures of adorable children and kittens but you may never even meet most of your Facebook friends, some of whom might not be who they claim to be.
    Counting on Facebook as a shoulder to cry on when the dog bites and the bee stings and you’re feeling sad isn’t as effective as talking to a real, live person who knows you, face to face, and SKL (whose life may or may not be comfortable and pleasant, although I really really hope it is) is under no obligation to soothe people whom she finds to be a constant downer on social media if she doesn’t feel like it.
    Mind officially boggled.
    And I like the “Spotted In” idea.

  6. BL January 12, 2015 at 12:44 pm #

    @SKL
    “I try to convince them that those stories are not the norm, and that I don’t watch news because it is so unbalanced.”

    Like everything else on television, “The News” is pop entertainment. It hasn’t been real journalism since the days of Edward R. Murrow. If then.

  7. Anna January 12, 2015 at 12:54 pm #

    Jill, FB is what you make of it. To some people it’s superficial, to some it’s not. Some people (who, I’m assuming, you friended for a reason) don’t have a real-life person to talk to. This article is about kindness; shunning FB friends for being “downers” because they are sad or lonely or unlucky or whatever (not just unfriending people in general)is an act of unkindness, in my opinion.

  8. Eileen January 12, 2015 at 1:15 pm #

    I love this! Someone in my city did something similar, with a “Hell Yeah… ” facebook group. It has over 20,000 members and people share great little stories about random acts of kindness or good service or whatever. Sometimes people use it to find lost pets or items. It’s a fantastic pick me up to see it on my feed everyday and great reminder of the wonderful people out there.

  9. Opal January 12, 2015 at 1:52 pm #

    This sounds so wonderful, particularly as someone who has lost a mother prematurely. Both the note-writer and the receiver are inspiring people. We’ll done!

  10. C.J. January 12, 2015 at 1:55 pm #

    I was wrong. The correct article is linked along with another article from the Metro news. Both links are in the phrase ” If anyone clicks on the link with the penis bush, Windsor didn’t freak out about that either. Most people just thought it was funny.

  11. lollipoplover January 12, 2015 at 1:56 pm #

    I love this.
    I am also a sucker for feel good news stories.
    My kindness of strangers story happened early last summer on one of the hottest days of the year. The kids were still in school making up snow days. We fostered a dog who’d been in 4 previous homes. He was a Houdini escape artist who enjoyed digging holes under our fence to run free and chase rabbits and birds. He got out while I was home alone(the kids are much more agile at corraling him!) and I tried desperately to catch him. I ran all over the neighborhood (and twisted my ankle in a rabbit hole) but could’t catch this stupid dog.
    Then a car pulled up.
    The guy who got out was mid-20’s and holding a dog leash. He said he saw my loose dog and wanted to help me catch it. We tried for 20 minutes to corner the dog by the stream but he got away.
    Then another car pulled up.
    A woman in her early 20’s also saw the dog running and wanted to help. She had dog treats and worked as a dog trainer at the local pet store. She sweet talked the dog towards us and we got him leashed. I thanked them both profusely for their help and my faith was restored that there are still good, kind people in this world.
    Over Christmas break, I was walking the dogs around the neighborhood when I was approached by a young couple walking two unfamiliar dogs. It was the man and woman who helped me catch my dog! They are dating now! She is still in college and working at the pet store and he lives in my neighborhood. They both are avid dog lovers. We have since adopted this misfit dog who we’ve grown to love, faults and all.

  12. Opal January 12, 2015 at 2:21 pm #

    @lollipoplover

    How wonderful! My own pup escaped as a puppy, and I know they can be wily. It’s nice that you got help! That is an excellent faith in humanity story. Thanks!

  13. SKL January 12, 2015 at 2:52 pm #

    Anna, I’m talking about people who don’t even tell you what’s wrong, they just moan and groan. One whole post is “OMG.” Their next post is “This is grueling.” The next post is “Tired.” This goes on for an entire year. 99 out of every 100 posts are like this. That is a drag I don’t need. (And this is not a close friend or relative or neighbor.) Oh, and nobody has died, gotten seriously hurt, failed in school, been divorced, got fired, went to jail, or any of that.

    Every life has a mixture of good times and bad times. Mostly good times, if we’re honest.

    I just hope people like that are using facebook to vent so they don’t heap all that negativity on their kids all day.

  14. Alexander January 12, 2015 at 2:58 pm #

    When a man stopped her in the supermarket, she should have maced him and ran. We live in dangerous times and he was probably grooming her daughters.

  15. pentamom January 12, 2015 at 9:27 pm #

    Alexander, I really really really really really hope that was joke. Because that’s not even how grooming works. You can’t “groom” a child you’ll never see again. And no, we don’t actually live in times so dangerous that it’s risky not to assault people who come up and talk to your children.

  16. Crystal January 13, 2015 at 8:45 am #

    That’s incredibly beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Andrew January 13, 2015 at 9:45 am #

    Aw, how lovely.

    In another context, they could have been suspected of trying to buy the mother for $20. (see “Man Tries to Buy Toddler from Mom at California Supermarket…”)

  18. Spotted In Windsor January 13, 2015 at 11:13 am #

    Hi, a fan of my page sent me a link to this stating we were SPOTTED! I created the page back in October 2013 with an idea in mind and it took off. Its been great fun and I look forward to watching it grow. The way I have it setup is through the website mainly which is http://www.spottedin.ca Where people can click on the share button >> Choose their city and then submit a post. If your city is not listed you simply state what city its for and we create it within 24 hours. the posts made onto this page get shared to Facebook. We do share the good, the bad and the funny so there is a good chance your post will make the Facebook page. I am a big believer in the golden rule “do unto others as you have them do unto you”. I appreciate the feedback and the support. I am also glad to answer any questions if you have them. You can also contact me through the website of facebook page. Thank you for the support 🙂

  19. Dhewco January 13, 2015 at 11:50 am #

    Coming for one whose life isn’t swell right now, there were times I needed to unload on someone. My best friend was 200 miles away and having serious troubles of her own. My only local friend told me to suck it up, I needed FB ‘friends’ to hear me. They were just as bad as my local friend.

    “Maybe you’ll get some response if you spoke with positive thoughts,” I was told. At the time, if I could have spoken that way, I wouldn’t have needed FB.

    I just wanted someone to listen. If one of those ‘friends’ had simply said. “I’m sorry, I’ve been there.” or something similar, I’d have had a much easier time of it. Instead, I got ignored. When I mentioned feeling ignored…I was taken to task for my negativity.

    So, I’m still on FB, but I don’t post anything true feelings-wise. I bottle everything up. I’m sure that works.

  20. Jill January 13, 2015 at 12:02 pm #

    I don’t have a Facebook account, as I prefer to spend my spare time rescuing drowning puppies and reading to the blind.
    If I were on Facebook, I would want to be Facebook buddies with Anna, who seems like a really fun person.
    If I were on Facebook I would “like” everybody’s pictures of their sandwiches and bowls of morning oatmeal and assure them that the cute thing their toddler said the first time he had a bowel movement in the toilet was the wittiest jape anyone ever made since Oscar Wilde said that thing about work being the curse of the drinking classes.
    I would “be there” (electronically) for everyone undergoing rough times, no matter how boring or trivial no matter whether I know them in real life or not, because I am a caring person who, despite living an enviable life of wealth, flawless beauty and carefree pleasure, never hesitates to offer solace and understanding to those less fortunate.

  21. Jill January 13, 2015 at 12:10 pm #

    Good thinking, Alexander, but why stop at mace? Why not shoot him in the head with a gun? Mace wears off but a bullet to the brain is permanent. It’s the best way to send a message to all the “creepy” guys out there who compliment your children that you’re on to them and that there’ll be no grooming going on while you’re packing heat.
    Grooming is a real thing. I read about it online and the internet never lies.

  22. Puzzled January 13, 2015 at 1:24 pm #

    The problem I see is that unloading on FB just seems to get you a bunch of “likes” which would be wildly inappropriate if anyone knew what a “like” was actually supposed to convey.

    Also, setting aside the obvious issues with “liking” my personal disaster, it’s a form of slacktivism. You do your part in “being there” for your friends by clicking a button, and don’t necessarily feel you need to call them, go out for lunch, whatever.

    If MLK marched in Selma today, hundreds of clergy from around the country would click “like” rather than making the trip and marching with him, let alone being beaten with him.

  23. Alexander January 13, 2015 at 3:58 pm #

    @Jill That’s right. I was was too lenient. She should have attacked immediately. Better safe than sorry 🙂

  24. Beth January 14, 2015 at 7:01 am #

    There is a difference between going through a rough time and needing the support of FB friends, who oftentimes ARE actual friends, and writing cryptic posts such as SKL described expecting everyone to fall all over themselves with “what’s wrong?” “Prayers”. “Hugs”. Is it that hard to say exactly what’s wrong, and let your friends provide real support, instead of vague posturing?

  25. Donna January 14, 2015 at 11:01 am #

    I find it odd to seek real emotional support on Facebook and don’t want my news feed filled up with it either. If you really need my support, call, email or private message me and I will be happy to oblige, but random outpourings of your emotional crises don’t belong on your Facebook news feed in my opinion.

    I don’t post anything on Facebook (or anywhere else on the internet) that I would be upset or embarrassed if a stranger knew. While I do know all my Facebook friends, they are not all current close friends that I want all up in my intimate personal business. Some are family, some are older friends and former coworkers that I enjoy keeping up with on Facebook but don’t interact with much anymore, some are parents of my kid’s friends, some are friends of my parents who enjoy keeping up with my life. They don’t all need to be in all my emotional angst (of which I generally have little) nor do I necessarily want to be drawn into all of their emotional angst as that is not where our relationship is at this time. I probably would unfriend one of these more casual friendships if I they ever posted was angsty type posts.

  26. SOA January 14, 2015 at 11:54 am #

    That was beautiful. I wish people would do more things like this for each other. I am inspired to try to do this for others more. Let’s all make an effort to even do one thing and what a mark it could have on the world.

    The negative nelly side of me though says I guarantee if a board like this was started in our town, we would see more negative than positive. Just because that is how people are now. Just look at youtube or facebook comment sections to prove it.

  27. SOA January 14, 2015 at 11:56 am #

    SKL: unfortunately the father that threw his autistic son off the bridge is not a completely isolated incident. As autism rises and the services do not rise to meet that rise-this is going to keep happening. Many parents are without any sort of assistance or respite care and get desperate. They see their children struggle. They develop PTSD as parents from the constant struggles. And no one helps them. It is not to be ignored. Just saw you write that and felt I needed to answer to it. This is a society problem that needs to be dealt with. Our local autism center is trying really hard right now to set up respite care options because of the true need for them. People that never get a break-snap. Plain and simple.

  28. Amanda Matthews January 15, 2015 at 9:42 am #

    “Counting on Facebook as a shoulder to cry on when the dog bites and the bee stings and you’re feeling sad isn’t as effective as talking to a real, live person who knows you, face to face,”

    Personally, I don’t have many people I can talk to face to face. I see most of my friends in person maybe twice a year. They are real, live people who know me, but they don’t live down the street; they live MILES or STATES away. And even if I wanted to talk in-person to the people who just live miles away, I’d have to get a babysitter and set up a time and place to meet, around their work schedules and in the winter, the weather (I’m in the Chicago area); it’s not something that can be done at the drop of a hat.

    There are two friends on there who I have never met in person, but have known online for 17 years. If they are not real, live people, they are damn good fakers.

  29. Jill January 15, 2015 at 2:21 pm #

    I love the story, but I’m afraid I’m a bit cynical about how much message boards would work.

    I work at a community newspaper. Until recently, we had a longstanding feature that ran every day where people could call in and leave a message about something in the community, area or the world. A column of these would run every day in the paper.

    It was probably, originally, a good idea. But by the time we ended it, it had become such a mind-numbing, soul-crushing chore to go through the messages, weeding out the ones that were viciously racist, incredibly petty (“I go through my neighbor’s recyclables every week and he drinks too much! Here’s his name and address!”) or downright libelous. (Fair comment is a wonderful thing. Calling a random small-town politician filthy names because you don’t agree with him isn’t.) I was called something really horrible in one message … because I wrote a column one week encouraging people to realize people from the nearby small city were just like them, really.

    I still believe most people are good. I talk to people every single day who are. But that became such a cesspool that I’m glad it’s gone.

  30. Ally January 15, 2015 at 4:23 pm #

    Is it becoming more acceptable to treat others with disrespect? Jill’s description of newspaper column entries sound like the angry, nasty notes on so many anonymous online comment sites. The veneer of civilzed discourse is breaking down. Anything that recognizes other people’s random acts of kindness sounds like a positive idea to me. Accentuate the humanity in all of us to keep reminding ourselves we are capable of much good.