The most extraordinary thing happened to me last Saturday evening. I had met up with four girlfriends at my favourite Virgin Gorda restaurant for a much needed catch up and we had shared a couple of bottles of wine and some of their delicious tapas-style dishes. It was the perfect evening of girly chatter and the odd cheeky cocktail.
At the end of the meal, when we asked for our bill, we were told by our waitress that it had ‘already been taken care of’ by a diner on a nearby table. We were absolutely astounded, completely staggered – such a generous gesture – for most people I know eating out is a treat, a special occasion, I can’t imagine nonchalantly paying for five strangers’ dinners.
When we, eventually, winkled out of our waitress the identity of our mysterious benefactor – we sent him over a drink as a small
and entirely insufficient gesture of our gratitude, and I asked him why he had done it. He just shrugged ‘a random act of kindness’ he said. And this is something that has been going round and around in my head all week.
It really got me thinking about what I do (or could do) for others. I like to think that I’m a nice person, that I’d do anything for my friends and family, that I always try to make myself available to help out with favours. But I suddenly realized that this is almost exclusively limited to my direct circle, those close to me or friends of friends. I’m not unpleasant or rude to strangers (I hope!), but equally I don’t seem to go out of my way to be especially helpful (short of opening doors for people or offering to carry heavy items) or generous.
This was an appalling revelation. Something has to change and I’m now actively thinking about how I can make small changes and contemplating random acts of kindness that I can start incorporating into my life. Sadly, I don’t think that lavishly treating whole tables of people to dinner at upmarket restaurants will be financially viable for me, at this time. But I’d love to surprise someone with their coffee or sandwich order paid for.
Does anyone have any good suggestions as to thoughtful and genuine random acts? Wouldn’t it be nice to try and make a stranger smile every now and again! This whole experience also came at a time when I had just watched this video – so it’s all been at the forefront of my mind.
How will you help someone today?
PS. If you’re reading this then it means that my foray into scheduling blog posts was successful! We’re currently in NYC, exploring, watching UFC and eating all the food we can find…