How a small gesture from a stranger restored my faith in humanity

"I wonder how many people these days, busy with their lives looking after number one actually give any thought to ideas such as this, or just doing simple good deeds for strangers now and then?"

I was standing in the supermarket queue, clutching a purse full of small change, enough I thought to buy a copy of the Saturday newspaper. When I got to the head of the queue and handed over the paper to the young girl at the checkout for scanning, she promptly asked for $3.80. Well enough, but the problem was – I only had $3.70 in change in my purse. Feeling stupid and a bit behind the times as to the cost of newspapers, I meekly asked if I could drop the extra 10c in the following day as it was getting cold, I was tired and didn’t feel like a walk home to get more change then back again.

The young girl at the checkout started getting uneasy and I didn’t blame her. A decision like this was way beyond her authority. Then suddenly out of the blue, a lovely young man standing directly behind me in the queue offered the 10c (well actually he handed me 20c and I gave him 10c back). It wasn’t that I was completely surprised, just that it was usually me doing such good neighbourly deeds! Not others around here.

I thanked him sincerely and gathered up my paper and quickly headed home. On the way I remembered a delightful, if also tear-jerking film that I have always loved – Pay It Forward. It stars Kevin Spacey (oh, I just love Kevin Spacey, I would watch just about anything he was in) and Haley Joel Osment and based on a best-selling book by Catherine Ryan Hyde. For those that have not watched or heard of it, it is the story of a young boy who, prompted by his social studies teacher and an assignment, develops an idea to make the world a better place by creating a momentum of good deeds that are paid forward to others, often complete strangers. The ideas in the film and book has developed a bit of a following and in some communities around the world there are even dedicated ‘Pay It Forward’ days.

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When I arrived home, I also remembered something I had read about a movement where people pay ahead for coffee in some cafes that homeless people or others just down on their luck can use as payment when they come in. I quickly looked it up on the internet and found the idea – known as ‘suspended coffee’. Such an interesting and thoughtful idea!

I wonder how many people these days, busy with their lives looking after number one actually give any thought to ideas such as this, or just doing simple good deeds for strangers now and then? I often think about it and do it whenever an occasion arises. As for that day’s kind deed, I know it was only 10c from a stranger, but it meant a lot to me. It restored my faith in the world around me and the idea that there is, in fact, a lot of kindness in strangers.

Have you been on the giving or receiving end of a random act of kindness recently?