At Purdue, Compliments Are Complimentary Two sophomores at Purdue University stand outside on Wednesday afternoons and shout compliments at people to boost their day. They say it's fun and they consider it a public service.
NPR logo

At Purdue, Compliments Are Complimentary

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/102128212/102184244" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
At Purdue, Compliments Are Complimentary

At Purdue, Compliments Are Complimentary

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/102128212/102184244" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Everyone loves a good compliment, right?

Mr. CAMERON BROWN: You've got great curly hair.

Mr. BRETT WESTCOTT: And I like your sweat pants.

Mr. BROWN: I love your curly hair.

Mr. WESTCOTT: Are those sweatpants, or are they jeans?

Mr. BROWN: They're corduroy.

Mr. WESTCOTT: Those are nice.

BLOCK: For the past few months, two sophomores at Purdue University have been dishing out compliments like those, and doing it with gusto. From member station WBAA in West Lafayette, Indiana, Ariel Van Cleave reports.

(Soundbite of bells)

ARIEL VAN CLEAVE: I'm standing here in front of the Wetherill Laboratory of Chemistry at Purdue University, and there are these two guys shouting at people.

Mr. WESTCOTT: I like those shoes, those are spiffy shoes.

VAN CLEAVE: That's Brett Westcott.

Mr. BROWN: I like your sweatpants.

VAN CLEAVE: And that one there, well, he's Cameron Brown. They stand here for two hours every Wednesday afternoon shouting compliments.

Mr. BROWN: I like your headphones. Don't hide it.

Mr. WESTCOTT: I like your smile. Don't hide that smile.

Mr. BROWN: Show those teeth.

Mr. WESTCOTT: You smile.

Mr. BROWN: Black hair, I like it. Very nice.

VAN CLEAVE: Reactions like Rachel Taylor's are usually what the guys get.

Ms. RACHEL TAYLOR: These guys brighten my day every Wednesday. They're so much fun.

VAN CLEAVE: Richard Severe(ph) says he also gets caught up in the spirit of the thing.

Mr. RICHARD SEVERE: I try to throw, you know, some compliments back to just acknowledge the fact that, you know, they're giving me one so I'll give them one back.

VAN CLEAVE: But that isn't always the case.

Mr. WESTCOTT: We definitely have people give us gestures, the middle finger, they use profanity directed toward us.

VAN CLEAVE: But Brett Westcott says most people like it. He came up with the idea last semester.

Mr. WESTCOTT: It's never a burden, ever. Like, I wake up on Wednesdays with the most energy.

VAN CLEAVE: And he got Cameron in on it.

Mr. BROWN: Days when it's raining, and days when it's absolutely frigid out, and people are like, man, thank you for coming out here. We're not necessarily enjoying our time in the cold, we're enjoying the responses we get and the interaction we receive with people.

VAN CLEAVE: They admit sometimes it's hard to keep all their compliments straight from week to week.

Mr. WESTCOTT: Sometimes we forget and compliment the same person on the same thing, and then they're like, you complimented me on that like the past two weeks. But that's just because they've got a great attribute that it's hard not to.

VAN CLEAVE: The guys are hoping for copycats to pop up around on other college campuses.

Mr. WESTCOTT: We'd love to spread it. That's what we're, that's our goal, really, is to spread inbred random acts of kindness and compliments.

VAN CLEAVE: Westcott and Brown don't plan to stop with the compliments any time soon. And by the way, those shoes look amazing.

For NPR news, I'm Ariel Van Cleave in West Lafayette, Indiana.

Copyright © 2009 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.