A longtime friend, whom I shall call Miseria, once told me that a mutual friend said she thought I was “nice” during a conversation she and Miseria had in which my name came up.

Miseria told me that she said, “No, she’s not.  She’s not nice.”  Besides being somewhat dismayed that Miseria said this to our mutual friend was my bewilderment about why Miseria found it necessary to tell me that she had said this.

I could have gotten hurt or angry at Miseria, but my late mother thumped me on the head and reminded me of what she often said, “Consider the source.” 

I knew that Miseria was not a very happy person, and she probably resented my not agreeing with everything she said even though I had made a point of not being rude when I did not agree with her.

“The heart of another is a dark forest, always, no matter how close it has been to one’s own.” (Willa Cather, 1876-1947; American novelist)

“Know yourself better than he does who speaks of you.” (Wolof people of Africa)

There are a variety of ways in which the word “nice” is defined in a dictionary, but certainly being mute was not one of the definitions.  I did not stop being friends with Miseria. I guess I was too nice to shun her (smile).

“We always deceive ourselves twice about the people we love – first to their advantage, then to their disadvantage.” (Albert Camus, 1930-60; French novelist, playwright and essayist)

The other week while riding on the #147 CTA bus, I observed a CTA bus driver being nice. An elderly woman using a cane and having difficulty walking as well as being visually handicapped reached her stop and shuffled up to the front of the bus. 

When the bus driver turned and saw her, he lowered the bus, got up from his seat, stepped out onto the sidewalk, assisted the woman as she got off of the bus and made sure she was headed in the right direction before he returned to his seat.


Passengers thanked him for his kind act when he re-boarded the bus. His act of kindness assured us that there are still humans that are compassionate and “nice” to other humans.

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” (Dalai Lama, 1935 – ; Tibetan religious leader, American essayist and poet)

As I departed from the bus, I stopped to compliment the driver and write down his badge number. When I called CTA to report the driver’s act of kindness, the CTA person with whom I spoke was so elated to learn of his kindness that I then told her how much I appreciated her positive reaction to the bus driver’s act.


Being nice can have a domino effect, and certainly have a positive impact on our bodies and spirit.  Something we all COULD use.

Peggy Tarr has been a columnist for the Evanston RoundTable since its founding in 1998. Born in Bruce Springsteen's hometown of Freehold, New Jersey, she graduated from Rutgers University with a degree...