Got on the plane in Minneapolis for the two hour and nine minute flight to NY. Spent the first nine minutes of it talking to the young curly-brown-haired passenger with long sideburns. In the first three minutes of talking to him I noticed on the back of his hand a ball-point-pen tattoo. One word. "Lost". And for some reason that touched me. In the same inexplicable way that "Help Wanted" signs in store windows do sometimes. That people would be so honest, so open about their vulnerability. I wonder what he is going through. This fellow passenger with his friendly manner who freelances for the magazine "Popular Photography" and moved back to his hometown in Lawrence, Kansas from NY- because even though there's a lot you can do in NY there's a lot that you can't do there when you're broke. And now he's learning how to do video editing and trying to ... Read Full Story >>
I traveled to Ethiopia last year with my business partner and president of OLA's Exotic Coffee & Tea. We are a coffee company that imports coffee from Africa and traveled to Ethiopia to visit the coffee plantations and speak with the government about investing. One day our entourage traveled about 4 hours from the capital to visit the Yirgacheffe coffee region. There we were looking to survey some coffee processing plants to possibly purchase. It rained heavily that day and there was a flash flood in a nearby village that we had to travel through to reach the farm. After we surveyed our last coffee farm, we climbed into the 4 cars we traveled in and began the long journey back to our hotels. As we were leaving though, through the rain and soggy conditions, Ola our CEO waved his hands to stop the cars. ... Read Full Story >>
As a single mom, it is often hard for me to provide those little "extras" my children seem to want.
About four weeks my 11 yr old son came home from school to inform that the musical instrument he had made from recycled products was chosen to be sent to the NYS Green Nation Recycling Competition in Albany.
There was a note from his teacher informing that my son was invited to attend the competition but that parents were expected to fund this two day event for their children.
My son was estatic, but what was I to do. I didn't have that kind of money, this trip was going to cost $300!
Well, my son immediately began do odds jobs for family memebers so he could earn some money towards the trip, and I began to work as much OT at work to put a little extra in as well.
We prayed every night that somehow we will raise the money for my son to attend.
Last we got a telephone call from a member of the Deputy Sheriff's Association in our area, and this wonderful group of men and women have come together to sponsor my son so he can attend this event!!!!!
My son is truly blessed.
It was a typical winter morning, just a couple of weeks before Christmas 2005: While most people were warming up their cars, my husband got up early to ride his bike the four kilometres to his job at Mr. Lube. When my husband arrived at work, he parked his bike outside the back doors as he usually does. After putting in 10 solid hours of labour, he returned to find his bike was gone–stolen. The bike, a purple kona 18 speed, was our only source of transportation. Trevor used that bike to get to both his jobs, putting in 60-hour weeks to support his young family. But the bike was not only used for work. It was also used to get groceries, saving us from having to walk long distances from where we live. I was so upset that someone would steal his bike that I wrote to ... Read Full Story >>
One of my favorite tags has been to pay for the person behined me on a bridge toll, and to ask the toll booth operator to give them a smile card.
I've always wondered what kind of ripples that would generate ..
Today a friend told me a talk he heard at a local Zen center. The speaker, an accomplished woman with many ongoing projects was describing how sometimes when she gets overwhelmed with responsibilities, she will roll up the windows to her car and scream. One day she was doing this right before reaching a tollbooth and found out someone had paid for her. As she described it, this completely turned her mentality around and literally made her day. It also made the day of my friend who heard the story today and decided to share.
That bridge is one I frequent.
What better way to start a journey than to tag the passengers on my flight? What to tag them with was the next question. The kids were easy. I went out to a party supply store and picked up a variety of goodies- bubbles, mini mazes, cards, candy, notebooks and pens. It was perfect, the store had smiley face bouncy balls and smiley face bags. But what of the adults, the day before my trip, I realized the perfect solution was in front of my eyes for weeks. For graduation, I had received a bag of smile stones. If you haven't had the pleasure of finding a smile stone, I hope you come across one. Smooth glass stones in a myriad of colours with smiley faces drawn on in permanent black. Mid-flight a child behind came crying to her family, it was time to begin. I pulled ... Read Full Story >>
I was catching a flight from Calcutta to Madras and had arrived at the airport rather early. Have always thought of airports as rather happy places- everyone at the beginning or the end of a journey- or both- such a sense of adventure in the air- and warmth- because people travel to see people and you know as you look around that that's someone's daughtersonhusbandwifefriendgrandmotheruncle cousinnephewhathaveyou and someone on the other end is going to be So Very Glad to see them. So until I saw the young couple sitting a few seats away from me, and noticed that the woman was crying-I'd never stopped to think that though airports are places of Adventurous Arrival they can also be about Difficult Departure. The young woman was crying, the young man was- not. He looked distinctly connected to her and decidedly uncomforting (and yes that is judgemental of me but so be ... Read Full Story >>
I was in the bus in heavy traffic going to an orphanage to visit some children. What I saw brought tears to my eyes.
There had been a terrible accident. The owner of the motorbike laid bleeding, critically injured and dying on the side of the road. Members of a church nearby called an ambulance. They were having a women’s gathering day at the church.
While the man lay helpless and hurt, the women rushed to his side and around him sang beautiful hymns and prayers - some to save his body and some to save his soul. They sang like angels. The music was so sad and beautiful and the gesture was so touching at such sad and tragic moment. I shall not forget the kindness of those women being there in his hour of need.
I have been using the smile cards for quite a while, and I try to get my family members to do it with me. It is a lot of fun.
Recently, my grandparents went on a trip to New Mexico, and on their way home they stopped at an IHOP to eat breakfast. When they had finished, the guy came over with the bill, but when my grandfather opened up the folder containing the bill, there was nothing!
The waiter said the a young man had paid for their breakfast! They were so suprised! My grandmother called me and told me the story and said that "wasn't it like those cards that I used!" And I said yes, it was. She thought that it was awesome and now she wants some cards!
It just goes to prove that if you do nice things for others, nice things will happen to you!
A few months ago, while driving home from work, I was thinking about my long tiring day at work and worrying about my other half, and would he be OK when I got home. My partner of 6 years, was lying in bed at home, sick and facing a long illness and possibly death. That day several clients had paid for thier jobs and one of them even paid extra, since he was very pleased with our graphics & photography work. On the way, I stopped at a gas station (slightly out of my way) to gas up my car before heading home. When I went in to pre-pay for my gas, I saw a man with his his son ahead of me in the line. They were a little dirty from working & painting at a local job site. The clerk behind the counter seemed annoyed and not interested in ... Read Full Story >>
My wife and I were at Disneyland taking the shuttle back to the hotel, when this boy -- I guess he must've been 4 or 5 years old -- gets on the shuttle bus with his pirate sword and eye patch.
He was looking real tough in his gear so I decided to yell out to every one on the bus, "Stand back! There is a pirate on the bus."
As fast as the words came out of my mouth the boy pulls off his eye patch, drops his swords, and yells back, "No, no, no. It's just me. I am a little kid, not a real pirate." Everyone on the bus had a great laugh.
The next day his mother saw me in the hotel lobby and stopped me to thank me. She told me that I had made her son's day and that he talked about scaring the big guy on the bus all that night.
P.S. I am 6'3" 280 lbs.
well, im millie, im 15 years old, and im going to tell you about my daddy =) i dont see him much anymore, but i learnt so much when i was with him. i remember one time, dad, my little brother and i were on our way back to sydney on a plane...we were stuck inside the plane for an hour and a half after we landed because some trailer wouldnt work. anyway, a little girl and her brother were sitting in frount of us, they were about 4 or 5, and they were afraid of being stuck in the plane...the little girl was crying. So my dad started to do "magic" tricks, he had a yo yo and was making it "dissapear" and making funny faces, in no time at all, my dad, me, and my little brother had a small audience, the people next to us and the people behind and in frount. the parents of the kids thanked us, and we havnt seen them since, but i learnt from my dad that day...Laughter is the best medicine.
The Japanese man points to my airplane seat, right as I head to the bathroom. He didn't speak much English, so I just signal that I'll be back in couple minutes. When I return, we play charades to see if he wants to swap his aisle seat with my window seat. "Yes, yes," he says with a child-like glee. I am more than happy to oblige. My window shutter has been down for couple hours of the flight already and I am hardly planning on making any further use of it. Right before he changes seats, he folds his hands and bows as a gesture of gratitude. It's touching when someone is thankful for something that takes almost no effort on your part. Before he can even get settled in, he slides up the window shutter and curiously looks outside at the clouds. He's happy. I can just tell. And that he's happy, ... Read Full Story >>
Recently my wife and I were in Maui, and we went to enjoy one of its gorgeous sunsets by the beach. While sitting there a nice lady saw us and asked, "Do you have a camera?". I replied, "Yeah", and then she offered to take a picture of us. So we stood up, got into our 'standard' arm around each other pose. Then she asked us to lie down on the ground to make the shot more interesting, and asked how to set the manual flash on my camera. My wife asked her if she was a photographer, and she replied, "Yes, but I don't have any jobs tonight."
She took some great photos of us, far better than the cheesy ones that we normally take. We thanked her, and she then walked off and asked the next group nearby if they had a camera. What a nice thing to do!
I was recently at a conference in Barcelona, Spain (home of Gaudi) when I thought, wouldn't it be great to do a little act of kindness in a far away city? I went through the lively La Rambla street - enjoying the scene and (in the back of my mind) looking for an opportunity of kindness. But I couldn't find anything right away. It was mostly tourists and street vendors.
Finally, I returned to the hotel past midnight when a haggardly old man came up to me and asked if I wanted to buy a rose. He had not sold one all day and was tired and hungry. I had a friend with me. She warned me that this could be simply a 'line' to rope me in. But I knew what to do. I bought 2 roses, gave her one and walked inside the hotel lobby and surprised someone with the second rose.
Ultimately it was really just a couple of Euros but at the end of it, at least 4 people were smiling on their way back to the bed.
I'm having chemo at the moment and got on the bus feeling rather weak and sick. A little old lady got up to let me sit down saying "I know what it's like." She was glancing at my headscarf which covers my baldy head. Full marks to her for consideration and KINDNESS XXX
Although I walk through the world with a folio of smile cards in my wallet, and try to be ever-vigilant for opportunities to use them, it always seems that I am the recipient of anonymous kindness much more often than the benefactor. Here's a story about one such incident which happened just yesterday: We arrived at Chennai Central early; our train did not depart for another 45 minutes. I took the opportunity to find a tailor to perform a simple repair for me. Across the lane from the side of the station stood a building typical of those found in India cities, containing a warren of tiny shops – perhaps several hundred of them. These buildings would look like any of the zillions of faceless, multi-storied, style-bereft concrete abominations that proliferate in the metros, were they not covered with scores-and-scores of small peeling signs — most painted directly onto the façade, at ... Read Full Story >>
My niece was away from home for a student camp, which was part of preparation for our country's Republic Day celebration. The camp was conducted at a local school and children were put together to stay in groups of 10 in each room for their stay until the completion of the camp. It was the rainy season, which brought a lot of infections and health ailments. Some children suffered from fever due to the chillness, some got throat infections and just one had the most odd infection - an eye infection. While fever, cough and cold were not too contagious, the eye infection was. This was one of the roommates of my niece. All the children left the room -they just vacated and got into their other friends room to save themselves from an eye infection. Only two of them remained in one room- my niece and the roommate with the eye infection. And ... Read Full Story >>
Good day, I was recently traveling and bad weather had surrounded the airport, causing many flights to get canceled or delayed. I was sitting by the gate, having changed my flight to another one already and was watching the unfortunate airline rep at the gate counter. She was being bombarded by a number of people who seemed to assume that the poor weather, flight cancellations and everything else causing them grief was her fault and each one in turn laid all of their grief on her and I could see she was being pushed to the brink. A little ah-ha light bulb flashed in my mind and since I am apt to follow my instinct, I stood up and took my place in the line of people intent on sharing their bad day with her. I patiently waited my turn and when I was finally standing in front of her, her weary ... Read Full Story >>
In 1971 a young man who grew up very poor was traveling across the country, trying to make a new start for himself. Along the way he had completely run out of money and was forced to spend the night in his car. This continued until one morning, after a week of sleeping in his car, he walked nervously into a diner and ordered a big breakfast. After eating his first good meal in weeks, he found himself lying to the waiter, telling him he had ’lost his wallet.‘ The waiter, who was also the owner, walked behind the stool where the young man had been sitting. He bent down, and came up with a $20 bill that looked as if it had fallen on the floor. ’Son, you must have dropped this,‘ the owner said. The young man couldn’t believe his luck! He quickly paid for the breakfast, left a tip, ... Read Full Story >>
My friend, Gayla and I were traveling to Phoenix from Chicago. I misread the ticket, and we missed our flight. I was busy being upset about my failed plans when Gayla suggested we just fly wherever we want instead, since we had the time. I think about missing my flight to Phoenix and going to San Francisco instead. It taught me a lot about being open to what is, not attached to what I want, and how things unexpected can happen. Long story but while Gayla and I were in San Fran, this strange thing happened. It made me think maybe I should start to trust the natural course of things more, instead of always thinking I know what is best and trying to control things. Did I see an angel or go or santa while in San Francisco? I don’t know what he was, but he was not of this ... Read Full Story >>
I live in Florida in an area that is famous for its shells. Many tourists wake up at 5:00 in the morning to find the best shells.
Living here, we have learned where to find the best shells and how to look for them. A lot of tourists spend time walking up and down the shore on the same beach and they don't tend to find very interesting stuff. And I figure, since I live here, there's no real point in looking for shells for myself since I already have a big collection.
So, whenever I find really nice shells (and sand dollars- those are not easy to find but are in high demand), I go out at night and scatter them along the beach for some lucky tourist to find.
Once I saw a family find a really pretty sand dollar I had left and they were so excited! It made their vacation. Plus, they were from Europe and they had traveled a long way for their vacation. I was so glad that someone deserving got my little gift!
I'll continue to leave more shells along the beach whenever I can!
After learning my flight was detained 4 hours, I heard the announcement: "If anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any Arabic, please come to the gate immediately." Well -- one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own gate. I went there. An older woman in full traditional Palestinian dress, just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing loudly. "Help," said the flight service person. "Talk to her. What is her problem? we told her the flight was going to be four hours late and she did this." I put my arm around her and spoke to her haltingly. "Shu dow-a, shu- biduck habibti, stani stani schway, min fadlick, Sho bit se-wee?" The minute she heard any words she knew -- however poorly used -- she stopped crying. She thought our flight had been cancelled entirely. She needed to be in El Paso for some major medical treatment the following ... Read Full Story >>
At an airport I overheard a father and daughter in their last moments together. They had announced her plane's departure and standing near the door, he said to his daughter, "I love you, I wish you enough." She said, "Daddy, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I ever needed. I wish you enough, too, Daddy." They kissed good-bye and she left. He walked over toward the window where I was seated. Standing there I could see he wanted and needed to cry. I tried not to intrude on his privacy, but he welcomed me in by asking, "Did you ever say good-bye to someone knowing it would be forever?" "Yes, I have," I replied. Saying that brought back memories I had of expressing my love and appreciation for all my Dad had done for me. Recognizing that his days were limited, I took ... Read Full Story >>
A few years ago, I was attending a friend's graduation at the University of Oaklahoma. While she was giving me a tour of the campus, she stopped by the student travel office to pick up her tickets.
While we were waiting, I listened in on a student from Australia trying to fix a problem with her itinerary. The agent told her that it would cost an additional $300 over what she had already paid to get an itinerary that did not include a ten hour overnight layover in LA. She didn't have the money and I heard her say she would just have to sleep in the airport.
I walked up and told the clerk to give her the straight itinerary and I'd pay the difference. The student started to decline, probably wondering why a 41 year old man she didn't know was making the offer. The friend I was with stepped up and told her she should feel free to take it, that I did this sort of thing all the time and it was a genuine goodwill gesture.
She thanked me and asked fo my email address. I gave her my business card and I ended up getting thank you cards from her and her mother.
I was just in France to visit my grand-mother who is very dear to me. I don’t get to cross the Atlantic very often, and she’s now 96 year old, so every time I go visit, the two of us are very aware that it might be the last time we see each other. Last time I visited her in December of 2004, I did a series of short video interviews about her life. I asked her what it was like to grow up with her father in the 1910s (her mother died during labor), to live through the German occupation alone with two young children with a husband away in a prisoners' camp in Germany. I asked her about her greatest memories and life learnings so far, her favorite books, foods, stories. I also asked her about her spirituality and her thoughts about death. I learned a lot of amazing ... Read Full Story >>
Everyday I walk down the mall to get a cup of cappuccino, and every day I get hit up for spare change. Every day. The panhandlers all have these wonderful stories but you never know what to believe. After a while it gets to be an irritation, and then I find myself getting upset that I'm so irritated over what is really just spare change.
One day this person came up to me and said, "I just ran out of gas. My car is about six blocks away from here, I have two kids in the car and I'm just trying to get back home."
I said to myself, "Here we go again," but for some reason I gave him $10. Then I went on and got my cappuccino. As I was walking back to my office, I again saw the man standing by his car, which had run out of gas right in front of my office. Seeing me, he came over and said, "Thank you, but I don't need the full ten," and handed me $2.
Now I find that being asked for money no longer bothers me and I give whatever I can everytime I get the chance.
This week I felt I wanted to treat myself to some ‘beautician treatment’. I am house bound, so knew that I’d have to pay for the beautician to travel to our place, but that was okay by me, after all this was a treat. That day I had an appointment made, and was expecting at least a 2 week wait, but to my surprise, was told she’d be here at 3:30 that same day. She came by, and spent an hour with me, when she was finished, I handed her $50; $30 for treatment, $20 for petrol and traveling time. She turned to me, and handed me back the $20 and said ‘don’t worry about the travel’. I am unable to talk, so was left to convey my gratefulness and appreciation with my eyes and a warm smile. She politely left, smiling, but I didn’t feel satisfied. Did she really know how grateful I was ... Read Full Story >>
"Where to?" the rickshaw driver asks me with his mouth full of tobacco. "Vijay Char Rasta," I say. I'm headed to meet a few friends to talk about the purpose of life and things like that. :) After some light conversation, the rickshaw driver and I quickly become friends. "Are you from Ahmedabad?" he asks me. "No, I'm just visiting a friend." "Just a visit?" "Yeah, he's opening a restaurant and he wanted my parents to inaugurate it. I'm helping him launch the café." "Café? You mean, it's like a Barista?" he asks showing his knowledge about the trendy coffee joints in town. "No, not quite like Barista. It's called the Seva Café." "Oh, what's that?" "Well, it's a place where most everyone is a volunteer, and no one gets charged for their food. It's going back to our cultural roots, where each person is treated as a ... Read Full Story >>
I travel a fair amount for work, and almost every hotel room I stay in has at least one pen. If I pick it up even once to jot down a voice mail message or to scribble down a random idea that pops into my head, the pen usually ends up in my backpack and no matter how many times I have scolded myself to "LEAVE THE PENS" they somehow sneak home with me. A few years ago on a trip home I was waiting in line at the airport gate counter and the agent was frustrated because a customer had inadvertently walked off with her last pen. I opened up my backpack and sure enough there were 5 pens, so I handed over all five and said, "Keep the change!" She was so appreciative of the small gesture that I began packing 5 pens for every trip. The airline employees ... Read Full Story >>