Compliment guys notice the best in passersby

Author: William Meiners
Sometimes nice guys finish first. Or at least gain some recognition for their efforts.

Compliment GuysSuch was the case for the Purdue “Compliment Guys,” who turned Wednesday afternoon good tidings into national media attention in last spring’s semester. Half of the complimentary duo, Brett Westcott, is entering his junior year in the School of Civil Engineering this fall.

Westcott met Cameron Brown, a junior in business management, while playing his guitar outside of his freshman dorm. Brown grabbed his own guitar, the two bonded over music, and began the start of what Westcott describes as their “awesome friendship.”

The idea to dish out free compliments to passersby on campus, Westcott says, was never to pick up girls or part of any prank, sociological experiment, or lost bet. “We just wanted to do something nice,” he says. “I’d heard of people giving free hugs, but I didn’t want to hug strangers, or make them have to hug me.”

Instead the pair, with their sign in hand, generally dished out heartfelt reflections on people’s clothing, sunglasses, haircuts, and smiles. What Westcott figured would be a back-page article in the Purdue Exponent made front-page news. Quick to follow were articles in the Lafayette Journal and Courier, the Indianapolis Star, and the Chicago Tribune.

Radio and television also came calling. They made an appearance on “The Bob and Tom Show,” a personal favorite of Westcott’s, and even Oprah’s people called. While the Oprah appearance never materialized, the students, suddenly a little weary from the numerous radio interviews, we’re revitalized the day before Spring Break when “Good Morning, America” offered to fly them out to New York.

“We got to compliment people in Times Square,” Westcott says of his first visit to the Big Apple, where he was pleasantly surprised by the reaction of big city strangers. “Most people waved or said thank you.”

Westcott says he had no idea that their friendly idea would have taken them this far. While working a summer internship at a geotechnical engineering firm, he and Brown got a call from Kodak. From July 20 to July 31, the pair took their compliments through a 10-city road trip on Kodak’s BrightSide Tour, beginning in New Orleans and ending in Rochester, New York.

And they’re both looking forward to bringing it back to campus in the fall. Westcott has cleared a slot in his Wednesday schedule and the two have even talked about incorporating guitars into the compliment gig. So if you’re in need of a lift, maybe you’ll get one in two-part harmony.