Friday, November 21, 2014

What is more fun than people?

I met a guy in high school who left a very good indelible mark on my life.  I wish I had a long list of people who I could say the same thing about, but very few are like this guy.  What makes him so different is he “got it” as a teenager and it took me about 40 years to begin to “get it”.

I met him in Canton, Georgia back in the mid to late 60’s and still communicate with him, even though he lives in Georgia and I of course, live in Texas.  Alan Dempsey is a preacher’s son and like many preachers kids, he went a bit buck wild only to straighten out later.  However, he was the kindest, most friendly person I had met at that time and still ranks right at the top of my kindest people list.  I was a Yankee in redneck North Georgia and needed a friend and he was there for me.

Alan, despite the fact that he had unruly straw-like shaggy blonde hair and possibly the worst case of acne imaginable, was extremely popular with the young ladies.  I on the other hand, had fairly good hair and relatively few pimples and in the ladies category was as awkward acting as boots on a camel when it came to interaction with the fairer sex.

Alan’s secret was he was genuinely friendly and interested in other people – possibly other female people times 10.  Fat, skinny, homely, socially inept – it did not matter to Alan.  On many occasions I would see him in animated conversation with 3 or more chubby girls no one else bothered with and this was all the time.  Even the upwardly mobile girls liked Alan.  He knew the names of every girl and most the guys in school, but there was a dark side effect to his friendliness.

A lot of guys did not like the competition and thus, Alan was a fist fighter and a danged good one.  In fact the last time I saw Alan in Canton before we moved to St. Louis, he was running toward me and his face and fists were bloody. Of course he had a wide smile on his face and as he passed, he informed me that he had been victorious.  You see, back in the day if you were caught fighting, you got “licks” by Vince, the ex-Marine Vice Principle.

Vince Thompson was about 5-4 inches tall and wielded a 4 foot paddle with holes in it, made in wood shop and especially for him by the very boys he would most likely later paddle.  Vince would 2-hand the flat instrument of correction and lift your bum clean off the ground and this is why fist fights lasted about 3 seconds.  Both sides would throw 2-4 punches and then run.  It was understood that you did not want to get caught.

What is more fun than people?  This is Alan’s big question and one that defines him and the attitude I learn more about every day.  Here is an example and try it to see the results.  Carry one dollar bills in your purse or wallet.  The next time you go through a fast food place at odd hours, give the window person a buck and thank them for being there when everyone else is sleeping.  Watch their face light up.  It’s money well spent and an investment in your fellow human.

Give a buck to your grocery checker or sacker when they look tired, or down.  Tell them thanks and I like to say, “You just made an extra dollar an hour.”  Often, they will cheer up and say, “I sure did!”  When the checker thanks me for shopping, I read their name tag and thank them by name.  When you do this, it transforms them from a faceless servant to a fellow human being.  Dale Carnegie taught me the single most important word in a person’s vocabulary is their first name and when you remember a person’s name, you make an instant connection with them.  Try it.

Alan was drafted and sent to Vietnam as an infantryman and survived.  Later in life he was diagnosed with throat cancer and couldn’t talk for a long time and survived.  Is it possible he is still just as excited about people and life in general?  Yup.  He sure is.

Recently I’ve began making house calls to repair peoples computers and aside from the fact that I actually like to repair computers, I have met some absolutely awesome people.  So much so that I’ve been invited to sit and eat with them, drink coffee, and jaw about who knows what for lengthy amounts of time.  Maybe it’s because I am retired and don’t have to meter out every single minute, or maybe it’s because I have learned what Alan has known since he was a kid.

What is more fun than people?


Anonymous said...

A great tribute to a truly great person that I am glad has been my friend for nearly 50 years.

Alan was the first person I looked for when I moved to Georgia for work back in 1995. It had been more than 25 years since I had last talked with him and he was still the same kind, intelligent and good person I remembered.

Thanks, Alan. Thanks, Bert.


Anonymous said...

Hello Bert,

Really enjoyed your article today.
Have you taken the 16 personalities free test?
I tested 83% extrovert...
YOU might beat is fun and interesting and FREE!

I started talking to waiters at art conventions many years ago.
Went with the art educators from GCCISD and this made our
meals much more lively!!!

It was like turning on a light to ask waiters their names and
what they want to be when they grow up.
The anonymous server became a person who someone
was actually interested in!!!
I announced that their job was to answer that question or
tell us a joke, sing a song, or tell their most embarrassing

I have had the Korean and Russian national anthems
sung to my group...
As far as embarrassing moments...whew...Most interesting.

Thank you for encouraging people to turn their hearts
inside be generous and friendly and to become
encouragers in a world that than so easily do the opposite!

Billie Brinkley...retired GCCISD art educator and practicing artist...
teller of tales and over the top extrovert~

Anonymous said...

Alan Dempsey is a good man and a good friend. Always has been.


Anonymous said...

You guys had a lot of fun friends in Georgia.
Bruce "Bruno" Marshall

Anonymous said...

Sandi White: Bert, something I really appreciate about you is your own appreciation of people. Every thing you said about Alan is true, he is a wonderful person. I haven't seen him in years but he impressed me much the same as he did you. As a Yankee "new kid" in a rural Southern High School, I had a hard time making friends, I was too different. He was one of the first to offer his name and friendship when I came to Cherokee and I will never forget that. Thank you for giving credit where credit is due!

Anonymous said...

DDC: Bert, Bert, Bert...your article in The Baytown Sun this morning was just awesome! You hit the proverbial nail right on the head. You really can change someone's day when you treat them like a human being. Thank you so much.

Anonymous said...

Barney LeBlanc: Thanks Bert. There is nothing better than people!

Anonymous said...

Deb Farrington Hearn: Your description of the late 60's at Cherokee High was spot on Bert. Alan had a way of making each person feel special, yet he remained so humble. I always thought he would make a great politician

Anonymous said...

Debra Cutler: Alan is one of the finest people you will ever meet!

Anonymous said...

Melvin Roark: Bert, Sue and I like your article this morning, and felt we are a contributing part and enjoyed having breakfast and coffee with you, along with sharing stories and time with you. Especially glad you were able to get my pc's going again. Thanks my friend.

Anonymous said...

Susan Denice Ward: Who doesn't love Alan????

Anonymous said...

Whose life has Alan NOT touched????

We are blessed to have him as a friend.

Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Bert. SW

Anonymous said...

I sincerely appreciate/thank Baytown Bert, and ALL you for the nice, kind, thoughtful words you said about me. That meant a lot to me more than I could ever tell you. However, I do believe y'all got me mixed up for somebody else, ha. If there is anything good about me (not sure if there is or not?) it comes from church. My Dad was a Preacher and I was always in church from a child until I was 16 years old. I was very blessed to be around some Godly, wonderful Preachers, Sunday School Teachers, and devout Christian people.

They taught me about life, and that the most important thing in life is, people. The bible was their guide. They made it very clear the God loves everybody the same. We are all God's children, and we are to treat people as Brothers and Sisters. If we can't be the sunshine in somebody's life, don't be the clouds.Those Christian people had a beautiful way of teaching, and what they taught me stayed with me all my life. Even in my most wild, crazy, sinful days, I still tried to tread people the way they taught me. It made me realize that anybody (Sinners or Saints) should be courteous enough to treat people good.

We never know what road somebody's on or has been on in life. Kind words can be a life changer for that person. Recently, I have some things in my life that has been challenging. Nothing now thank the Good Lord that is serious. It has not been the happiness of time for me. However when I read Bert post, and all your comments it moved me in a very good way. I thank the Good Lord for you. It made me realize that I am a very blessed man to have wonderful people like you in my life. Thank you DEAR FRIENDS, and God bless you. Alan

Anonymous said...

A good article about a really good man. Sam

Anonymous said...

The best compliment I could pay a man is " I would not mind if my sons grew up to be just like him" That=Alan... Thanks Bert...James Gramling

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