Three hundred and four

Secret and not-so secret good deeds to strangers

Last year I was in a store in the States buying something and the man in front of me needed around $10 to complete payment for his layaway (it was a child’s toy).  He couldn’t get money out of the ATM and the cashier was trying to be patient, but the line was getting longer and longer.  I offered to pay the $10 he needed.  He got really angry at me, told me that he would never accept it and stormed off to find his wife to see if she had the $10 he needed.  The clerk processed my payment while he was gone, and I left the $5 extra for the man with the cashier.  He obviously needed the money and it was for his child.  It was $10.  But I’m sure he probably got really mad when he found out what I did.  I’m not sure if I should have left it, as I knew his position, but I did anyways.  I know it is a pride issue, but no one else had to know.

A lot of people hate to ask for help and some won’t accept help (or a ‘hand-out’ as some people call it) even if they need it.  However, communities for hundreds of years have helped each other out and worked as a communal group to survive and thrive.  As I said in my “science of good deeds” post, communities evolve by helping each other.  Those with more should help out those with less.

Unfortunately we live in a world where the richer get richer and the poor get poorer in a lot of circumstances.  Also unfortunately, there are those that take advantage of the kindness of others, which often makes people cynical over doing good deeds themselves, or won’t accept the help for fear of being grouped in with these people.

Tonight and tomorrow my plan is to find good deeds I can do for strangers and see how they react.  Who can I buy a coffee for?  Can I give up my seat on the streetcar?  Open a door for mom and her stroller?  Hopefully the world and particularly the city of Toronto is not a corrupted as I’m letting my mind runaway with and think it is.  Hopefully there are more good, giving, gracious people out there than there are selfish, greedy ones.

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2 thoughts on “Three hundred and four

  1. I thought I would share an observation and experience I had:
    I was on my way to work on the Subway in Toronto and there was some electrical problem and all the subway cars had to stop until it was resolved. I’m pregnant and look it. I was standing with my laptop bag and bagged lunched. As we waited I started to overheat as pregnant women tend to do. So, I took off my coat and scarf…so there was no debating I was pregnant not just wearing a bulking coat. We were waiting 20 minutes and not one person got up to give me their seat. Now, I just moved back to TO from Shanghai. Their subway system is a lot more busy then ours and as soon as I walked on the subway someone would get up and give their seat, without hesitation, within seconds. In their society it’s expected to give seats to mothers with small children, elderly, handicapped and pregnant women. I don’t think it’s even considered a good deed, just expected. I was fine and didn’t really care, but seeing the contrast was an interesting observation for me. I shared my experience with my husband and he told me that he gave his seat to a man with crutches on the street car and the man thanked him and then told him he was the first person that had done that since he got crutches.
    The measure of civilization/society is how they treat their weakest members.
    – H.E. Javier Perez de Cuellar.
    I wonder how Torontonians would measure up?

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