RAOK? Random Acts Of Kindness. There is a quite delightful TV ad (bit of an oxymoron, that, eh!?) on at the moment that features a much-tattooed busker playing guitar and doing a nice wee rendition of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”. That’s nice enough but the delightful bit is when a woman rats through her handbag for parking meter change but comes up empty, and the busker signals for her to take meter money from his collection plate (hat). Great!
This sort of ‘act of kindness’ is not entirely uncommon in New Zealand- fortunately they happen often and we are the richer for it. One hears stories all the time of people ‘doing the right thing’ without expectation of reciprocation. Why? Because they can. People who do such things are thoughtful, sensitive, generous people who have the milk of human kindness coursing through their veins. They don’t have ulterior motives, they don’t expect recognition, they probably don’t even expect the same to happen to them (and in the cock-eyed world we live in, they probably won’t ever be on the receiving end of such random acts. I hope, though, that one day they will be.)
I recall a few years ago a coffee bar running a ‘campaign’ of ‘pay it forward’ whereby you paid for a coffee which would be given to the next person who ordered one. Unfortunately (sort of) I wasn’t the ‘next’ order (that’s not what is was about) but it was nice to pay for two in the knowledge that someone would get a nice surprise when they ordered their beverage (which is what it WAS about).
There were also a couple of instances during the recent Rugby World Cup- an overseas couple were travelling to Napier to watch their national side play, were delayed by break-down or accident (I don’t recall) and thus missed the game but a generous Hawkes Bay motelier not only hosted the visitors’ ‘overstay’ for nothing, he also gave them his tickets for the next game. I don’t suggest that this level of generosity should be the norm, but isn’t it wonderful that someone who could, did?
I doubt that people who do such things think all that much about consequences much beyond cheering someone up and creating ‘feel-good’ moments for the lucky recipients because generally most random acts of kindness remain anonymous. Being known as a generous and kind person is not as important as being a generous and kind person.
I am happy to say I do wee things reasonably often. The things I do aren’t all that impressive, rather they are little things just like the busker donating a dollar to the lady’s problem. There are often times when the recipient isn’t aware of who has left the treat in their pigeon-hole, or who wrote the anonymous email (thanks to the anonymity of Yahoo and Gmail!!) that brings a cheery message of congratulation or celebration of a job well done, or who finds their next beer or coffee paid for. Such acts cost almost nothing but the feel-good results I get are probably as good as those the recipient feels, so I’ll keep doing them.
Thought about doing them yourself? Hope so.