Isn’t it Time to be the Change?

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

I recently took my 86 year old mother out to lunch in her wheelchair. It’s a running joke between the two of us about how well I can maneuver her in the chair since I have been doing it for a few years now. However, some situations are easier than others, and this experience has taught me a great deal about my fellow man. 

When we were at the restaurant the other day, a torrential downpour occurred while we were eating our lunch. Although there was an unused front door (without an alarm), the manager would not let us use it to get close to our vehicle, so we were forced to deal with the downpour. Unfortunately I had no umbrella and I could not pull the car very close to the door. The rain was NOT stopping and it was clear my poor mother was going to get drenched. I asked the three young girls standing at the hostess stand if anyone had an umbrella that we could borrow, perhaps in the kitchen? Without even looking (and barely stopping their conversation) they simply said “no,” even though they saw our predicament. 

Trying to maneuver the door by myself, I realized even if I put my mother on the covered patio, she would still get drenched. As I pondered my situation, I noticed the three girls were still chatting amongst themselves as they watched us. I finally surrendered, understanding there was no way I could make this work, so I slipped off my flip flops and ran for the car; that way at least I could pull it slightly closer. Although I was dripping wet by the time I got back near the door, I was lucky enough to run into two patrons who were just entering the building with an umbrella. I asked them if I could please borrow their umbrella to help my mother outside, and they were kind enough to agree. At this point, I was wrestling the wheelchair to get my mom out the door while holding the umbrella in the pouring rain. Yet, all the while, those three young women continued their conversation while watching a 58 year old dripping wet woman struggle with her 86 year old mother in a wheelchair. Not one of them even offered to open the door. 

My family owned a restaurant for 25 years and we lived upstairs from it when I was a child. Therefore, I grew up in the environment of service to others and was taught at an early age to pull out chairs, open doors, step aside, and be helpful; especially to older people. (I still offer my seat to others on a crowded bus or subway when needed, and as a 58 year old, I suppose I am now one of the “older folks.”) This behavior was in no way looked at as extraordinary, but only a common courtesy that we show to one another as human beings.

Perhaps it is our busy computer age in which we now live, but I have noticed in recent years an uprise of people being so wrapped up in their own life experiences, that they are literally clueless to the needs of those around them. From driving on the freeway watching folks getting cut off right and left, or sitting at a signal as cars fly (very often) through flagrant red lights, to walking through Trader Joe’s front door seeing a young man jump rudely in front of an old woman who is moving too slowly for his liking, most of the individuals that I experience have little awareness of the space around them and are in their own little worlds. It truly saddens me when I see such a selfish display of egocentric “me-ism.” Yes, I am a sensitive and I notice things and feel into the needs of others, but I think it’s time everyone needs to start paying attention a little bit more.

Perhaps it’s time we start looking up from our phones. Let’s notice what’s going on around us! Why not look into the eyes of our fellow man as we make our way through the day? Instead of feeling the need to race around, perhaps we need to plan our time better, enabling us to be in the present moment. Why not open doors for one another, smile at strangers and think of someone besides ourself. We are all connected, whether we realize it or not, and the small inconsiderate acts not only reflect who we are as individuals, but who we are as a whole. Many people are questioning why bad things are happening in our modern world; perhaps the best place to start is by looking in the mirror and becoming a more empathetic and considerate human being. Make the change within, because this is where our control lies.

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” – Barack Obama


  1. Lynn Norton on July 4, 2023 at 6:14 pm

    Love this so much!

    • Susan Schueler on July 4, 2023 at 9:39 pm


  2. Victoria Cohn on July 4, 2023 at 6:16 pm

    I am trying to be that change! I will always smile and help wherever and whenever I can. Some acknowledge me; others don’t. I had two hours to kill at the airport recently and instead of sitting down and waiting, I walked around and assisted anyone I could. I told a woman she was beautiful because she really was. I held a baby so a mom could go to the bathroom. I picked up dog poop when a woman’s “service chihuahua” let loose in the TSA line because she was trying to help her dad (she’s the one who didn’t thank me!). I listened to a fellow WNYer tell me about his girlfriend leaving him and moving back in with his mom, who had a stroke. It’s up to me to be the change. Perhaps one day, someone I helped will remember and pay it forward. We can hope, right?
    Peace, Love and Light to you always Susan

    • Susan Schueler on July 4, 2023 at 9:27 pm

      I love this!!!! 🙏💜🙏💜

    • Denise on July 7, 2023 at 6:29 pm

      You are awesome Victoria. True not everyone will acknowledge or show appreciation. When I do something nice and unexpected for someone and they thank me, I ask them to remember the next time they see someone else in need. As for those who do not, I try not to judge and figure that whatever they are going through at the moment is holding them back, but I also feel that later, when things have settled down for them they will say. “Wow! That was really nice what that person did for me. maybe they will ponder on the why and come to a positive conclusion at a later point. Maybe they will begin to wake up.
      Keep doing the good work.

  3. Cindy on July 4, 2023 at 7:14 pm

    I am saddened and disgusted at the obvious disrespect and lack of empathy from the 3 young employees. Sad that the restaurant would even hire someone who doesn’t understand basic social mores. Shame on them and the parents! I am proud to know someone like you who rose above the ignorance and took matters into their own hands. Your poor mom deserved better than that, and you also!

  4. Sherry on July 4, 2023 at 7:38 pm

    Beautiful Susan. Read it to my sweet son who very much appreciated your words as well. Thank you.

    • Susan Schueler on July 4, 2023 at 9:39 pm


  5. Steve G on July 4, 2023 at 8:26 pm

    So sorry you had such a bad experience. I remember reading something somewhere that said following the news closely could associate a person with too much negative energy and that it can keep you on a lower vibrational level. I’m wondering if the same theory could apply to a person’s surroundings and where one lives. We left California 3 years ago and moved to a small town in another state. I don’t want to imply that all Californians are self-centered, entitled things like you encountered. We knew a lot of nice people while living there but it seems that the state has more than it’s share of negative people. The contrast between the people that we left compared to the people in our new town is very noticable. People are extremely friendly here and go out of there way to help you. In addition, their driving habits, though not always, reflect that same friendly attitude. The town is immaculate and has a sense of pride that was missing in our old city. My daughter still lives in a nice area on the coast and although we are always excited to see her and her growing family, we get depressed knowing we have to go to that state. Now I’m not going to say my vibrations have gone up since we’ve been living here. I’m really not sure what that is all about anyway. I can tell you that both my wife and myself are a heck of a lot happier living out here and when we go to visit our family in California, it feels like my internal batteries start draining the minute we cross the border into that foreboding black hole. 🙂

    • Denise on July 7, 2023 at 6:42 pm

      As a native Californian myself, I get what you are saying. My circumstances are that I can not leave as my husband will not. I feel the negativity all around me here. I feel physically drained and exhausted after being at work and dealing with people all day. My daughter , who is a nurse practitioner lived in San Diego. She was so stressed out all the time that she used to call me on her way home from work crying almost every night. It was taking its toll on her mentally and her marriage as well. She and her husband decided they would move out of state. She is a completely different person. She is happy, loves her new job, loves her neighborhood ( and she lived in one of the elite neighborhoods in San Diego) loves the people, loves to go out and enjoy life again. Her father in law moved up first , then she and her husband, her mother in law is in the process of selling her home and has already signed papers for a home there. They all want us to come as well. When I go for a visit, I feel light and free and healthy again. It is amazing. I don’t think I will be able to make the move but I did tell my husband I would be going there for monger periods of time once I retire. By the way, I have also heard the same thing about following all the news. I try to minimize as much as possible, but do get drawn in. Hope your wife stay happy and healthy for many years to come.

  6. Susan Schueler on July 4, 2023 at 9:38 pm

    I TOTALLY get what you mean. I was in Canada last week and was amazed at how nice everyone was there, so there certainly are places that differ in energy and the way people treat one another. Smaller places seem to feel less “dog eat dog” to me too! Unfortunately this situation with my mom happened to us in my home town of Buffalo, NY where my family still all live, and where I have been staying off and on for the past few years to help with my mother. It’s actually called “The City of Good Neighbors” and has always had reputation for kindness. (Which made this even more surprising!)