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.
There are very few things that drive me crazier than people littering, especially when there are trash cans everywhere. Tonight on my way home from work I was walking up the stairs to exit the T-Station and ran into a Dunkin Donuts cup laying in the middle of the stairs. I actually passed the cup at first, walking up several stairs thinking about how much people who litter suck at life. Then I quickly realized that I sucked almost as much as they did if I didn’t pick it up. So I walked back down the stairs to grab it, tossing it away as I exited the station.
- Some jerk dropped their small Dunkin Donuts cup in the middle of the stairway even when there were trash cans both at the bottom and at the top of the stairs, ugh.
It probably took an extra 10 seconds out of my day. The only difficult part was actually making the decision to stop and turn around. It’s so engrained in city life to just walk as fast as possible to get to your next destination. So stopping to turn around is not something I normally see or do.
This reminded me of something I saw Sarah’s brother-in-law do over the holidays that has stuck with me since. We were on our way home and we stopped at a liquor store to pick up some apple cider and Jack Daniel’s (Mmm, delicious). As we stepped out of the truck we saw that a few glass bottles had been smashed on the ground next to the car. He wasted no time in picking up the pieces and then muttered something about people who don’t have any respect for the city they live in. On the way into the store he dropped them in the conveniently located garbage bin. Again, it probably only took 10 extra seconds. It was refreshing to see someone who was self-aware and good-natured enough to go out of their way to stop, fix the situation, and move on. My default would have been to ignore it, still complaining about how some people suck without really doing anything about it myself. The old Mainer in me would have gone out of his way but the new city-slicker in me would have ignored it and moved on without really thinking twice.
This month’s life experiment of doing a random act of kindness per day has definitely helped me to be more aware of my surroundings and as a result it has made me more aware of daily opportunities to do something positive for the city I live in.