Recently, I was the recipient of a random act of kindness. Yes, in Toronto. In the FINANCIAL DISTRICT no less. I know. The shock of it all was so great that it apparently prevented me being able to blog for two weeks. Or clean my apartment. Or file my taxes. What? It was a significant event, people.
Wanna hear what happened? Good, cause imma tell you anyway.
My morning started just like any other- an
excrutiating death march exhilarating jaunt on the treadmill, followed by wishing I had never been born a delightful bowl of oatmeal sprinkled with sunshine and unicorn kisses, and I was off on my commute to work. After my daily dance with the devil (aka: trying to make it through the subway turnstile with 489808 bags of stuff) I tucked into the Starbucks in my office building to get my morning sweet nectar.
Just to set the scene for you, the simple act of getting a morning coffee in the financial district, much like my commute in general, is both a stressful and terrifying event. Everyone is herded like cattle into these complicated little ropes, and there are never any less than 30-40 people in line behind you who all have somewhere to be, like NOW (time is money, people). And if you don’t know exactly what you want/have either precise change, a Starbucks card, or some sort of instantaneous Jedi mind trick with which to pay, then god help you, cause you’re gonna get some death stares. I myself have been recipient of no fewer than 37 death stares in March alone…mostly due to constantly holding up the line with my unreasonable requests for Soy milk.
Anyway, that day I committed the cardinal sin of having no cash whatsoever, and had to pay for my $2.26 coffee with debit. SHAME. Just as I pulled out my card to pay though, the lovely older man behind me (who I noted was not dressed in the standard skinny suit, half windsor/half inferiority complex, but rather jeans and a sweatshirt) stopped me in my tracks and handed the barista a $20, saying – “just put hers on mine”.
Before I even had the chance to thank him, he was off, simply saying “have a nice day!”.
I’ll be honest, I was never really a believer in the whole “random act of kindness” thing… it all seemed a little too “Oprah’s Angel Network/ Eat-Pray-Love”-y to me. But god damn it, I DID have a nice day after that. I told everyone I knew, and was grinning like a double showcase winner on the Price is Right.
As an east-coaster in Toronto, I often miss the friendliness and hospitality of the folks back home- so this was a very welcome surprise. (I recognize that this man probably just wanted to get his coffee without me holding up the line, but you take what you can get).
This whole R.A.K business, however, is a gift that also comes with a price- you gotta pay it forward.
No problem, I thought. I’ll just get someone’s coffee tomorrow. Only, I realized that this is actually quite difficult and awkward in practice. Since I’m too shy/lack the physical stature to do what my Gifter did and hand the money over the person, I considered leaving my barrista with enough money to pay for the person in line behind me. But then, they’d always go and order a Double Venti Carmel Macchiato, a banana chocolate chip loaf, The Opus Collection by Billy Joel and an Ethos Water, and instead of $2, we’re looking at $117.84… and I didn’t sign on for that shit. Plus, then I started getting all particular and snobby about who I was going to bestow my act upon- sizing up my potential candidates, mostly dependent on his/her outfit (I’m extremely shallow)… thus eliminating the whole “random” aspect of it entirely.
Since coffee wasn’t working for me, I decided to take my RAK mission elsewhere. I thought about paying for someone’s grocery order in the speedy checkout, but this posed most of the same logistical problems.. not to mention that I’d probably have FOMO about whatever it was they were buying and have to go back and buy myself eggo waffles or whatever. I thought about leaving some kind of complimentary note on a bathroom mirror that said “you’re beautiful” or some shit like that, but then I realized that was just ridiculous and would make no one’s day but my friends who could use it to make fun of me.
I even tried scoping out the neighbourhood for little old ladies to help carry their bags, but no luck yet….. I live in a young area.
So this is where you guys come in – If you have any suggestions as to how I can carry out a random act of kindness in the most effective/ least awkward way possible, leave them in the comments section. I will take you up on them, and then do a follow-up post with the results of my attempts. ……Which inevitably will fail cause I’m a weirdo and will probably make it weird… but it’s worth a shot, anyway: