Random acts of kindness

I always find thrilling when random acts of kindness go viral, especially because they seem to have a domino effect on people.

I always find thrilling when random acts of kindness go viral, especially because they seem to have a domino effect on people.

A couple of years ago, an Edmonton resident pre-paid for 500 coffees at a local Tim Hortons. The man, who chose not to be identified, simply paid the $859 bill and left, leaving staff to wonder why he did it.

Later that week, a person in Calgary – inspired by the act of kindness in Edmonton -, pre-purchased $900 worth of coffee for strangers.

I really like the fact that we have no clue of who those people were. But mostly, I love that we don’t know why they did it. It makes us wonder – maybe something incredible happened in their lives, or maybe they were simply feeling great and wanted to spread that feeling.

But you certainly do not need to have spare cash to impress the entire country.

Just a couple of weeks ago, a homeless man returned $2000 he found on a Victoria street (yes, this really happened).

His story went viral, of course, and a fundraising website had people from all over the country sending the homeless man money. More than $5000 were raised for him, but guess what? The man refused to accept that money too.

Although police asked the man to sleep on it, the man was determined not to accept it. He even said it in writing. His explanation was that “it was the right thing to do,” adding that he only needed help to find a job (I really wish I could hire this person, don’t you?).

Lately, in South America, it’s also becoming more and more common for young people to spend their weekends, holidays and even birthdays serving food for homeless people. And the media has been giving it a lot of attention.

It’s almost as if it’s becoming “cool” to be generous. And what a great trend that is (certainly better than sagging pants, mustaches or selfie sticks).

But Canadians certainly don’t need any lessons on kindness. I am preaching to the choir.

When I was a student in Newfoundland, I was paying for my groceries at Walmart when I realized I did not have enough money to pay for everything. I was about to leave some of the items on the counter when a lady behind me offered to pay for my groceries (I should have added her on Facebook or something, but I was too busy calling my parents to share that story).

Last year another act of kindness went viral in Edmonton. A man noticed that someone left their car lights on, and decided to do something about it. The man left a note by the car saying, “I noticed you left your lights on. The battery will probably not have enough charge to start your vehicle. I left a blue extension cord on the fence and a battery charger beside the fence in the cardboard box. If you know how to hook it up, use it to start your car. Good luck.”

The note went on with instructions on how to jump start a car.

But you certainly don’t need a big gesture to make someone’s day better. Little things can also make a big difference – smiling at a stranger, holding the door for someone, asking the cashier how they are doing, complimenting someone, or writing an actual letter and mailing it.

You never know what someone might be going through, and maybe your small act of kindness won’t be so small after all.

What will your next act of kindness be?