Up Front and Personal

Being Nice Has Its Own Rewards

By Erick Rommel

Good things happen to nice people. As far as philosophies go, that one must rank near the top. At the very least, it’s a philosophy that makes the world a better place. And, for people like Kahlil Calixte, being nice inserts him into stories he’ll be talking about for years to come.

Calixte is an Uber driver in New York. For those who don’t live in a major city, Uber is an on-demand car service, similar to a taxi. Calixte received a request to take three teens from Grand Central Terminal in New York City to Penn Station.

The two locations aren’t far apart, but traffic extends all city travel. To pass the time, Calixte did a nice thing. Instead of playing music of his choice, he gave the girls the auxiliary cord to his car stereo and let them play songs of their choosing.

The girls chose Taylor Swift, as they were heading to her concert. Before long, Calixte was singing along. He enjoyed Taylor Swift as much as they did. His enjoyment gave the girls inspiration. They had an extra ticket and they chose to give it to him.

At first, he thought they were joking, but when he realized they were serious, he decided to take the rest of the day off and chose to go along for the ride.

Calixte didn’t expect a reward for his generosity. Being nice, for him, is a habit. It’s an instinct. It’s an action you take without thinking.

If you think before doing something nice, the decision is no longer about doing the right thing, it’s about calculation and convenience and whether being nice is worth the effort. It’s easy to understand why it wouldn’t be. Doing the right thing takes time, and time is something we all feel we lack. But, is this an area where we should be willing to cut corners? Is being nice worth the effort?

If being nice comes as naturally as breathing air, we’ll see the results in the world around us. It’s clear that Calixte’s kindness wasn’t calculated. It’s part of who he is.

A few weeks before that incident, Calixte was called to drive a customer to dinner. By the time they’d reached their destination, the customer had invited Calixte to a private dinner with chef Emeril Lagasse and actress Kerry Washington.

You don’t get that lucky twice. Things like that happen for one reason – good things happen to nice people.

I honestly believe that.

I admit, outside of these two examples, I don’t know Calixte. But I’m sure he’s one of those people for whom being nice is a habit. It’s a habit that will always reap rewards.

Instead of driving the teens to Penn Station, Calixte drove them to their Taylor Swift concert. That’s a significantly larger fare – money in his pocket. Then, he learned the girls didn’t just have a ticket for him but they had VIP passes for a great seat near the stage.

Stories like Calixte’s inspire me. In a world of uncertainty, it’s nice to see someone receive rewards, even though being nice is its own reward.

Rommel writes a syndicated column for Catholic News Service.

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