What do you like about people?
By Justine Tyler
By Justine Tyler
Because I’m young and sort of reserved, people often assume I like everyone. Maybe it’s because I try to give everybody a chance. It’s unfair to judge people you hardly know. My sister bends a lot of rules, but it doesn’t make her a bad person. She just wants to be independent. I don’t always agree with how she behaves, but I respect her. When I overhear people talking, judging her, I just want to punch them. KIA-AH. Left, right, uppercut. Pow, pow! Ha! Knock some sense into their peanut-size brain.
Not everyone’s like that, of course, so I have to be careful. Some people – my friend Holly, for instance – live in their own little world, isolated from the rest of us. They hardly notice anyone else, which is a little annoying. At least they don’t hurt anyone. Sometimes I wish I were more like Holly, but if I were, I suppose, I wouldn’t be me.
What do I like about people? Let’s see: Given a shot, most people are kind. If a small animal or a child is in trouble, they do what they can to help. Maybe they sense the vulnerability and shut down their defenses. Really, I’m not sure it matters. It’s the act, what you do, right? How you behave? Not whether you think about it or not.
People are generous, especially with their time. Take Officer Johnson. He’s got a tough job and two babies at home, yet he finds time for our family. Leah thinks he’s got the hots for our mom. I don’t believe her. Even if it’s true, as long as he doesn’t act on it – I really can’t imagine him doing anything – he’s still a good person. He doesn’t have to check in on us, but he does. Whenever I see his cruiser, I smile.
I like that people try. Life can be rough, you know? Hard to get out of bed every day, put one foot in front of the other, go to school, study, do your chores, make an effort to be a good friend. Look at Hope Lansdown. She’s fat—not chubby, fat. If that’s not bad enough for a girl, her dad left when she was a baby. She and her mom live in this falling down house – Mom and I drove by one day and she showed me – with dirty windows and a ratty front yard. She was kicked off the soccer team in ninth grade, has no extracurricular activities. Her boyfriend, this big scary kid named Lupo, sells drugs. With her life, why get out of bed in the morning? What’s the point? Yet she does. People, all kinds of people – young, old, middle age – do the same every day.
Once, in Boston, my mom and I saw this guy with a transplanted face. A nurse held his arm and they were out walking. I cried. I didn’t feel sorry for him. No, not at all. Last year, watching the Kentucky Derby with my dad I bawled my eyes out. The horses are so beautiful, so powerful. And they have so much heart. It’s not always about winning, you know? Mostly, it’s just about being there, playing the game.
Big things, winning, heroics—this isn’t what counts. On any given day, under the right circumstances, anybody could be a champion. It’s the everyday things - being kind and generous, giving of yourself, going out on a limb, getting out of bed every day, pushing yourself—the connections that make people special. That’s what I love.
Who is Justine Tyler? She is Leah’s sister in the novel, In Leah’s Wake. Protecting their children comes naturally for Zoe and Will Tyler - until their daughter Leah decides to actively destroy her own future. What happens when love just isn’t enough? Who will pay the consequences of Leah’s vagrant lifestyle? Can this broken family survive the destruction left in Leah’s wake?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Terri Giuliano Long grew up in the company of stories both of her own making and as written by others. Books offer her a zest for life’s highs and comfort in its lows. She’s all-too-happy to share this love with others as a novelist and as a lecturer at Boston College. Terri loves meeting and connecting with people who share her passions. Visit on