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C. Paul Luongo's Published Columns

Friday, September 08, 2006

A Kinder, Gentler Nation

A Kinder, Gentler Nation

Some years ago, this was the wish of former President Bush.

Now, it’s here!

It’s September, 2001 and because of the tragedy on the 11th of this month, look at what’s happened to Americans.

On the Acela Amtrak Train from Boston to New York this week, I bumped my head on the overhead storage bin and two people jumped up to ask me if I needed help and if I “was all right?”

That would never have happened before.

In the elevator at my athletic club in New York (whereas normally staid members never speak unless known to you) this week in the elevator they asked, “What floor are you going to?” and volunteered to press the elevator button! Another commented on the beautiful weather that day.

That would never have happened before.

I went to the club library looking for the dictionary, which was missing. When I asked a young man about it, he responded “Can I help?” I asked, “Are you smart? Do you know these two words I want to look up?” Turns out he was a 35 year oldish doctor doing a residency at Columbia University and while he didn’t exactly know the precise definitions of the two words, he was very close, and smiled. We both laughed.

That would never have happened before.

Managers of restaurants, restaurant workers, bartenders, cab drivers have all taken a more sensitive interest in people and are making a greater effort to be more accommodating. There’s such a “vulnerable feeling” all around.

The would never have been there before.

My apartment manager called today to ask if my maintenance request had been fulfilled. Imagine! That’s a first.

There’s a general feeling of helplessness and malaise in the air. Sorrow. A mournful feeling among Americans trying to understand this unspeakable tragedy that has happened. A current count of 6,500 dead and missing. A despicable terrorist act.

Lastly, I called my VISA company today to complain that they had assessed a late fee and interest charge to my account of about $45 when, in fact, I had paid the balance in full, but it didn’t get there on time. I said, “Well, maybe it got delayed en route because of the recent World Trade Center tragedy.” The man on the other end of the line quickly removed the charges in question with extreme politeness and concern.

I hope we continue to be a Kinder and Gentler Nation with the advice of former President Bush without another tragedy needed to accomplish this enhanced atmosphere in our country. God Bless America!

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