When was the last time you gave money to a complete stranger? Did you toss a few coins in an open guitar case as you strolled by a musician on the street, head down so you didn’t have to make eye contact? Perhaps you donated money to a non-profit organization, your generosity marked by the CVC code on the back of your credit card or the signature placed at the bottom of your check.
Maybe I should have been more specific with my question. When was the last time you handed money to a complete stranger?
Ahhh… now the stakes have changed.
Just this week a friend of mine posted a story of how he handed $60 to a Dunkin’ Donuts employee with the challenge of paying for the purchases of as many people as possible behind him in the drive-through line. As other people commented on his post, I was shocked to see just how many people viewed the action through the negative lens of cynicism. Even the unspoken words echoed sentiments I had heard before.
“I bet that girl kept the money.”
“Good luck seeing that ever again.”
“Why would anyone do something so stupid?”
Really? That’s your reaction to kindness?
Who cares what the girl did with the money? Sure, in an ideal world, she would do as the giver requested and use it to pay-it-forward, but what if she didn’t? Would the world end? Would the random act of kindness be any less meaningful?
Let’s take a moment and play out the scenario. The girl kept the money for herself. Maybe she had to purchase books for next semester’s college classes. Maybe she needed to put gas in her car so she could continue to drive to work. Maybe she needed to feed herself instead of others. Maybe she went to the mall and bought a new outfit that made her feel pretty and confident. Does this mean the donation was wasted?
Why must we tarnish the genuine thoughtfulness of the RAK with our own pessimistic outcomes. Who are we to judge?
I often give to the homeless. I don’t try to predict what they do with the money or items I share; I simply give without judgment or expectation. I’ve heard all the negative responses, from “They’ll just buy more alcohol” to “What a waste of time.”
My response to the naysayers?
I simply smile.
See, I know something they don’t. I know the joy in giving.
It doesn’t matter to me what someone does with a gift I give. Keep it, toss it, pay-it-forward, rock on. All I care about is in the moment of giving, you know someone cares about you. You are important. You are valued. You matter.
That’s what kindness provides: validation of worth.
And that, my friends, is priceless.
As for the Dunkin’ Donuts worker who was given $60 to pay-it-forward? She did exactly that. Her manager and two other co-workers shared the story to my friend when he stopped by the next morning to see how it went. His donation not only paid for several family purchases, but others took notice and paid-it-forward, too.
In the end, kindness wins.