The Be-nice Lady

Everyday Stories of Peace
Green Scarf Stories, entry seventeen, December 31, 2014

One of my many high school obsessions, aside from the very cute drummer in the school band and keeping up with the latest hairstyle, was a woman we called the “be-nice lady.” This petite woman had the job of roaming the halls of our high school, especially the areas of high density and other zones of potential conflict as 500 teenagers with raging hormones, frail egos and sometimes divergent agendas of what is a good time tried to get through the school year under one roof.

The be-nice lady was the most powerful woman I have ever met. If two strong boys were in a heated discussion and on the verge of throwing punches, she would place her petite self between them, hum a tune, and tell them to “Be Nice!” which, believe it or not, always worked. To me this was nothing short of a miracle, because to my teenage brain the world seemed to operate, paradoxically, in a might-is-right fashion. So whenever I had the chance, I would shadow the be-nice lady between classes to see if I could learn the tricks of her trade.

Her two most salient characteristics were a lack of fear, and a deep well of love for the teenagers she was trying to help. Even if she was jostled a bit, or poked fun at, she never relented in her firm belief in their inner goodness. It was as if she had a super evolved sense of intuition to know the root of their anger, or hurt, and why it came out into the world through harsh words or through their fists. She had this aura of peace around her, which she spread around with a simple hum, a word, a look, and through her sheer presence.

The be-nice lady was one of the most influential role models of my formative years, even though I never did learn her real name. Thanks to the be-nice lady for inspiration; I hope to be more like her in 2015. Happy New Year!

Here’s Sophia gazing at the moon while skiing this afternoon.

2014-12-31 14.29.08


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