I have to admit that I’ve had this random act of kindness planned for the entire month but the opportunities slipped through my fingers each time (mostly me forgetting and not noticing). The act was to give a dollar to a T-performer. Easily one of the best parts about riding the public transit system in Boston is all of the awesome performers who play on the T platforms. I was in Davis at about 6:30am going to work and ran into a guy decked out in America gear (read: Amurrrica) playing the national anthem on the flute.
A flutist on the platform in the Davis Square T, decked out in America gear playing America songs.
I immediately dug into my wallet and threw a dollar into his flute case. Without missing a beat he said, “Thanks buddy, God bless America”. He then launched into ‘My Country Tis of Thee’ and played that until I got on the train. He was actually an incredible musician and the version of the National Anthem was beautifully done. It’s not often that you expect to hear incredible music at 6:30am on public transit. There’s another guy who used play blues guitar in this same spot on Monday mornings before work. I asked him why he plays blues in the T station so early on Monday mornings and he matter-of-factly responded, “It’s Monday morning and everyone’s going to work, everyone’s got the blues”.
I don’t typically give money to T performers. I’m not sure there’s any reason behind it but I just don’t. I really should start tipping them especially because my public transit is paid for by my work. Also, it’s really great to hear music playing in public spaces, I think live music really livens up the atmosphere and helps to create a positive attitude in everyone.
The City of Boston has an application for T-performers such that if you don’t have a permit, you can be fined for playing music in the T. However, from what I’ve read it looks like a pretty easy process to become a T-performer, all you need is access to the internet to download the form (30 day life experiment?!?!). Here’s the link to the application, looks pretty straight forward: no doing, selling, or carrying drugs, be neatly dressed, and don’t exceed 80db of noise. http://mbta.com/business_center/subway_performers/ sounds like a lot of fun, maybe I’ll look into it as a month-long challenge…
We finished a great day of ice climbing with a stop by our favorite local diner: Tilton Diner. Across the street we typically stop for gas. I offered to get out of the car and pump the gas for my buddy so that he could stay in the nice warm truck. I definitely didn’t pay for all the gas but it was a small gesture and honestly, it was the least I could do for someone who carted my derriere around New Hampshire for the whole weekend. Granted we were going to the same places all weekend, it’s still a huge help to me considering I don’t have my own car.
A picture of me pumping gas near Tilton Diner. The temperature was hovering just below 25F so it was cold but it certainly could have been worse.
This was probably one of my longest random acts of kindness in terms of time to complete. However, I couldn’t go anywhere until the truck was filled up so it’s not like that amount of time detracted from my life in any way. Most other acts took only 10-15 seconds of my life so it’s been pretty easy so far. The difficult part has been noticing the opportunity, turning off autopilot, and doing something about it. I know that if I were driving and someone offered to stand outside in the New England winter and pump the gas for me I’d be pumped and gladly accept their offer. So next time one of your friends is driving you around, offer to get out and pump their gas for them, I’m sure they won’t say no.
Today was gross, weather-wise that is. I left my apartment after work in a downpour and headed to my buddy’s house for a ride to NH. On the sidewalk about a block from my apartment I came across a women’s winter hat lying in the middle of the sidewalk. Initially I walked right by it lugging my hiking backpack with my headphones in my ears. After a few steps I stopped, turned around, and scanned the both sides of the sidewalk looking for a hat-less person who may have dropped theirs on the ground. Not seeing anyone, I went back and picked up the hat and put it on a fence post. Hopefully it was displayed prominently enough that it would be recognized, but out of the way enough so that no one would step on it. It must have recently been dropped because it was still in good (yet soggy) condition.
The pre-January Life Experiment in me would have just walked by it, “Not my hat, not my problem.” However, today I stopped to look around, pick it up, and get it off the sidewalk so in case the person came back looking for it, they’d find it in good condition, not ruined as it would have been had it stayed on the sidewalk. In Maine this is something I definitely would have noticed and done something about but for some reason I ignore these types of things in Boston with the “Not my ___, not my problem” type of attitude. This month I’ve been breaking out of that attitude quite a bit and I hope my new attitude is one that sticks in my post-January life.
We spent the entire day ice climbing in NH and on the way back we stopped at a Dunkin Donuts to get some coffee. We usually stop at White Mountain Bagel because they’re both awesome and local, however, they closed at 3pm so we opted for D&D literally across the street. While in line I saw that someone was at the drive-thru waiting at the window. I first asked the cashier what the order was for the car waiting outside. It was around $3 so I told her to put their bill on my card and then to tell the car that it was a random act of kindness.
It was cool to hear the conversation between the Dunkin Donuts cashier and the driver because I could only hear the cashier, “No you don’t have to pay for it. No, someone inside paid it for you. No I don’t think they know you, it was a random act of kindness.” I felt solid about this one because the driver truly seemed perplexed and not expecting it, definitely a random act. I also liked the reaction of my two new friends who I had ice climbed with that day. It’s one thing to help someone who is truly in need, that makes a lot of sense. However, to see someone randomly pick up the tab for someone else, literally for no reason, shocked them a bit I think. They weren’t ready for it, but they totally understood after I explained the life experiment to them.
The last time I paid someone’s coffee bill I was in northern Maine (read: pretty much Canada) and it seemed to go over well so I was really interested in trying it somewhere else to see what the reaction was. The reaction seemed similar from what I could tell except that this time I was with my friends instead of my family so it was definitely a different experience. Maybe some exposure to random acts of kindness will lead them to do their own random acts, or at least better recognize situations that warrant kind acts themselves, random or not.