I was in a health food store when I heard a woman say her foot was hurting and she was going to call a cab. I paid for my purchase and left to pick up some dry cleaning from the eco-friendly cleaners next door. I was walking back home when I saw the woman outside the health food store, presumably waiting for the cab. I knew I wanted to make a trip to a craft store later that day and that I'd be driving. I asked her where she was going. She told me a place which was actually on the way to the craft store. So I said, "I've got a crazy idea. How about you cancel the cab and I'll give you a ride? It will save you some money and besides, I only live a few minutes away." To my amazement she said okay without any hesitation or ... Read Full Story >>
Last weekend at the airport, I had some extra time before going through security to catch my flight. While wondering what to do, I decided it was the perfect time and place to look for an anonymous act of kindness to do! One of the magazine stands outside security had flowers for sale. I told the clerk that I'd like to buy flowers for someone else, and she could decide who to give them to. She looked a little confused, so I suggested perhaps she could give them to someone who looked like they could use some cheering up, and then hand them the smile card with the flowers. At first, the clerk responded, That's weird." (Or maybe, "That's crazy," I can't remember which.) But then, I explained a little more about smile cards and the concept of doing something kind for a complete stranger, and she brightened up. "I'll never know how it turns out," I said, "but you will have the opportunity ... Read Full Story >>
I arrived at the Embarcadero station in San Francisco and realized that all I had was a $5 bill, and that I would need to get some change to pay my Muni fare. I saw a café nearby and thought I could buy something small in there and break my $5 bill. I wasn’t particularly hungry, but I bought a muffin anyway to get some change. I then had a thought – I could ‘tag’ someone with the muffin. So as I waited for the Muni streetcar, I was then on the lookout for an opportunity to "tag" someone who was homeless or looked hungry. I scanned Market Street and did not see anyone, so I walked a little further down. Suddenly, a fairly fast moving homeless man pushing a shopping cart filled with his belongings caught my eye across the street. I also saw my Muni streetcar was coming, so I'd have to ... Read Full Story >>
I often walk from work (near Pier 39 in San Francisco) to the Embarcadero BART station, where I catch a train back to the East Bay. Several times, I passed a gentleman who I presumed was homeless. He had a lot of his possessions tied down to his bike and held a cardboard sign that said he was a vet who doesn't drink or do drugs, but would appreciate anything that could be given. He usually has headphones on and is listening to the radio. He is always minding his own business, often reading as well. I've never seen him actively "panhandling." Several times, while I was passing him, I realized I had some food with me, so I turned around and offered him that food (most recently, a blueberry muffin). He took off his headphones, and said "Umm, blueberry muffins are my favorite!" with a big smile and a gleam in his eye. ... Read Full Story >>
I was at Karma Kitchen, a gift economy project, when a volunteer asked if anyone could use some free drink coupons for a particular airline. I enthusiastically accepted, knowing that even though I don't usually drink, I could use those free drink coupons to "tag" someone with a smilecard. I loved the idea of "tagging" someone with a smilecard and a free drink coupon on an airplane! Fast forward a month or two later, when my girlfriend and I were on a flight to Las Vegas as the first stop of a trip to the Grand Canyon. I had several drink coupons and smilecards ready, and it was just a matter of figuring out the "Who" and the "How" of tagging someone on an airplane, while still trying to stay completely anonymous. As luck would have it, we had an awesome, amazing, hilarious flight attendant, who was very, very funny (he really could have been ... Read Full Story >>
Last week, I went to work very early as I had a lot to do, and early mornings, before others get to work are the times I can be most productive. I arrived at the Embarcadero station in San Francisco from the East Bay around 5:30am and as I surfaced from underground, I checked my BlackBerry and noticed the next SF Muni bus was in 10 minutes. Instead of waiting around for 10 minutes in the cold, I felt inspired to go buy this (possibly homeless?) man in a wheelchair something from the Starbucks. I had seen him before sitting outside in his wheelchair trying to stay warm, and quietly and politely shaking his cup gently (I've never heard him asking for change though) hoping someone will contribute some more coins. I went up to him and asked "Brother, can I bring you some hot coffee from Starbucks?" He replied with "Hot Chocolate," immediately, ... Read Full Story >>
As I was traveling during the holidays, I wanted to try to spread some airport cheer via a smilecard. While I was waiting for my luggage at Oakland International Airport, suddenly an idea flashed across my mind as I was looking around. I saw one of those "Smartcart" dispensers where you pay $2 to rent a cart to wheel around your luggage. I noticed the SmartCart dispenser took dollar bills. I took out a small notebook, a SmileCard I had saved for my "airport tag," two $1 bills and a pen. On the paper, I wrote in block handwriting, "HAPPY HOLIDAYS! PLEASE HAVE A SMARTCART ON US. -- YOUR ANONYMOUS FRIENDS." I carefully packaged the note, the two $1 bills, and the SmileCard. I went to the other side of the baggage claim where there was an identical SmartCart dispenser and deposited my "treasure" on it after looking around to make ... Read Full Story >>
I'm attending a conference at a hotel this week. The hotel provides a continental breakfast as well as an afternoon snack selection. When our session ended today I noticed there were still some cookies left. Knowing that the way home would take me through an area where there are homeless people I was inspired to pack up some of the extra cookies in napkins and take them with me to give away. Granted, cookies are not the healthiest food but they are an indulgence I imagine few homeless people get to enjoy. And these cookies were really good! I gave two to a homeless gentlemen, left two neatly wrapped on top of a container in another public place where I often see homeless people, and have two more with me to give away on the way back in tomorrow. It's an idea you might consider if you happen to be staying at a ... Read Full Story >>
It was a very wet, rainy night, and I had forgotten my Fastrak (electronic toll payment transmitter) at home. Since I had to stop and pay by cash, I thought, "What a great night to tag someone with a Smile Card and pay their toll for them!"
I handed double the toll fare to the attendant and told him that this was for my car and the one behind me, and then I said, "Can you do me a big favor and give the people behind me this card?" I gave him the Smile Card, which he looked at curiously, and then I went on my way into the rainy night, without watching my rearview mirror to see who was behind me.
I was inspired to "step it up" after being blessed to be present for an inspiring talk by Nipun on Thursday, so Friday I arranged to covertly and anonymously gift two tickets to a concert to some "strangers" (strangers are just friends we haven't yet met, right?).
I have no idea how it turned out, but it was totally worth it just to watch the faces of the two people who were at the ticket table light up when I whispered my request that they pass the tickets along with a smile card. And I'm sure they, in turn, also received a lot of joy when they passed along the gift and (hopefully) got to watch two other faces light up! :)
And who knows where the ripples will spread from there? All part of the fun. Catch the kindness cold!
As I was parking last weekend in the Los Angeles area, I experienced one of those "I know I'm in the right place at the right time" moments. I happened to find a space next to a car which had the most inspirational back window I've ever seen.
It said "The fruit of the Spirit is" and then listed all these qualities (but not as a bullet point list; it was quite artistic and fun!)
The best part of it was that they were not promoting a business or any particular religion -- it was just the message.
I just happened to have a SmileDeck on me, so I wrote a note saying how inspired I was and then put the note and the SmileDeck under their windshield wiper.
I was walking back from Safeway this morning and an elderly woman called out to me from her porch. "Excuse me," she said. I wasn't sure if she was talking to me, so I looked around and not seeing anyone else I turned to her and answered,"yes?"
"Could you please help me with this?" she asked, pointing to a small shopping cart which was probably 10 feet below where she was standing.
"Do you want me to bring it up there?" I asked, and she indicated she did, and also indicated that it could be folded up. So I folded it, and brought it upstairs. She thanked me and I wished her a wonderful day, and went on my way.
As I continued walking, I was inspired to go back to get her address and mail her a smile card, encouraging her to "pay it forward" if she chose. Here I sit with the letter in front of me, ready to go in the mail.
I didn't get her name, so I'm just sending it annonymously with just the address. Who knows if she'll get it, and/or "pay it forward,
" but I feel wonderful in sending it.
Make it a blessed day.
Where I work, we participated in something called City of Dreams this year, where we receive gift requests from underpriviledged children, and then we go and buy their present (kind of like anonymous Santas), return it unwrapped to a collection bin at work, and then they get it back to the child. We just know the child's name, age and gender.
This year, "my" child wanted LA Lakers gear, so I got him a T-shirt and a hat. It's a great program and it feels good to give anonymously in this way.
Recently, a yoga teacher offered a full day of free yoga classes (four classes in all). I had the pleasure of attending one of the classes, which was wonderful.
The class was free, and yet, I felt a strong urge to say thank you. So I sent a thank you card with twenty $1 bills and and a smile card. It was sent anonymously with no return address and no signature in the card. Though I'll never know for sure if it was received, I can say that it felt wonderful to do, and I have a warm feeling inside knowing that the circle of giving and gratitude lives on.
Today I tagged a vibrantly passionate pink-haired musician near Embarcadero in San Francisco, who was belting out Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" with her accordion!
I hid behind a public bathroom to get everything together - SmileCard, $10 gift card to Cafe Gratitude, and a note saying thanks for the rousing rendition of Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!
Then I neatly paperclipped the bundle together, walked up (with my sunglasses on - even more annonymous!), smiled and put it in box where people were putting money, then went on my way.