Sunday, March 14, 2010

Random Acts of Kindness

I've decided those birkenstock-wearing, patchouli smelling folk who really are kind to animal, vegetable, and mineral alike might be on to something with the "Practice random acts of kindness" bumper stickers.

Driving down one of Florida's many, many, many expensive toll roads this weekend I took a whim to pay the toll of persons behind me. Doubled my fare for the trip, but honestly, it was the MOST fun. Lest you think I qualify as beneficent, let me clarify.

When you pay the toll for the person behind you, it is highly unlikely they can ever pay you back. Or even say thank you. There is a possibility you will drag race to the next toll booth and if they beat you they then return the favor. BUT. Since you come out of the tollbooth bottleneck a half mile or so ahead of them, this scenario is unlikely. If they want to say thank you the best opportunity they have is a hand wave at your exit, when you slow down.

This confuses people.

Seriously? Why did the person in that car do that? Do they think they know me? Are they supposed to be in a car caravan where the person behind them had no cash? Why would they DO that?

I drove along and laughed and laughed. More entertainment from a one dollar bill than you can get anywhere north of Tijuana.

Random acts of kindness. You really do get more than you give.

And maybe there was a tiny case of the warm fuzzies when a car would pass me and wave at the person who did something nice for them for no real reason.


  1. According to Glenn Beck you are a Socialist Nazi who is out to destroy the fabric of America and bring down the free market.

  2. Yes, well, I meant it when I said I was Unhinged...Seriously. Glenn Beck and I have that much in common.

  3. It's great fodder for writing. All the scenarios you could come up with for why. A character like you would be pretty cool...

  4. I hope that you are the car in front of one of my brothers some time. They used to have to send in toll payments when they found themselves without coin. I think they've figured it all out in their old age :). You had me laughing with you, as you psyched out all those drivers!

  5. @ Tina Laurel Lee: Ha! Yes, one way to describe me would be "a character." Cool probably does not apply. It is fun fodder for writing, though. Imagining all the scenarios of the spin off of one deed...

    Heather: I've been that guy. It's actually one of the reasons I do the "pay for the car behind you" thing. Eventually, I'm bound to bail out someone who doesn't have any cash and make their day a little easier.

  6. What fun! I'm actually lamenting the fact that there are no toll booths anywhere near me. I might have to drive to another state just so I can try this out.


  7. Hey, Tawna! More expensive, but you can also try it at drive throughs. Pay for the next person's coffee, happy meal, whatever.

    One time I did it at the liquor store. The kid behind me looked like he couldn't possibly be old enough to buy that malt liquor he was clutching but his ID checked out. He was in fatigues and counting out his money. I had the clerk ring up his purchase with mine.

    I think the kid was trying to figure out if I was old enough to qualify as a cougar. I'm positive the man of Indi-Stani persuasion behind the register thought I was a cougar. That kept me giggling for a couple of hours.

    That one was a real coup. Corrupting the youth who defend our nation while practicing a random act of kindness.

  8. LOL, a liquor store cougar. You really are your very own stereotype.

    I did my very own random act of kindness today, and yes they do feel good.

    I also think people should do a random act of cleanliness. How much nicer would our streets, parks, playgrounds, and workplaces be if each of us just picked up a single piece of someone else's litter every day and tossed it in a trash or recycling bin? I try to do that once a day. Yesterday an old lady saw me throw out a soda cup left in a parking lot. She said, "What a nice guy you are. We all should keep our city clean!"

  9. I'm with you, Pete. I do the litter from time to time, extra dog droppings when I'm walking my dog. Big thing that seems to be needed the most though is a swipe down of the kitchen at work. Damn, but they leave helacious messes.

    I love doing for others whenever I can. No toll booths here, but that sounds like a blast.

  10. @Pete: What a great idea! I don't do that every day...if I have a kid or two with me (and I usually do) my hands are full and I'm a bit freaked out by germ potential unless it's something like paper or an empty fast food bag. The closest I come is taking a grocery cart back for someone.

    @Sarah: What is it with communal kitchens? You know they don't leave their own like that. Or you hope, at any rate. Every coffee cup in the sink? REALLY?

  11. Haha. Good post. :) Good stuff in the comments, too.

  12. i absolutely adored this post. it makes me want to go do something just as fabulous right now.

    thanks so much for sharing, and for giving back to the world.

    best of luck with your work!!

  13. fun stuff, but all we have here are toll bridges