by Justin Standfield
Today, 17th February 2018, is National Random Acts of Kindness Day.
Let’s face it, who doesn’t enjoy the idea of a random act of kindness? Somebody doing something positive for someone for no other reason than to make the recipient feel good – it gives you a warm glow inside and reminds you that there’s still human goodness around amongst all the miserable news headlines and stories of growing selfishness.
One day last year, I hadn’t realised that I’d left my wallet at home when I stopped at a petrol station and topped up my car; it was only at the till when I reached into my jacket pocket that it dawned on me that I had no money to pay for the fuel. I was mortified! In that split second, it felt like everyone in the queues at both tills was looking at me and rolling their eyes. The sales assistant said I’d have to fill in a form and they’d need to take a photograph of me and my car registration, before they’d trust me to leave and then return with payment. What happened next amazed me – a total stranger who was paying at the other till told me he’d pay for my fuel. I humbly accepted.
The guy’s name was Tom Smith and he’s a Master Farrier with a business based in Bishops Waltham in Hampshire (I’ve provided a link to his website below). After much thanking him, we swapped details so that I could transfer the money to him online. Later that morning I received the text below from Tom:
At the time, I shared this story on Facebook because I was genuinely grateful and happy to receive such kindness. In a small way, I wanted to share the random act with the world, celebrate it and publicly applaud Tom for doing it. When I asked him what had prompted him to do something like that for a complete stranger, he said “I guess I would appreciate it if someone helped me out if I was in that situation”.
These days, social media has quite a big part to play in encouraging people to perform random acts of kindness. The “tie a coat to a lamp post” initiative of Christmas 2015, for example, was widely promoted across social media. It encouraged members of the public in the UK and Canada to leave their unwanted coats attached to lamp posts so that they could be found and used by homeless people – a fantastic idea that was shared and put into action around the world.
It might just be me, but lately I’ve noticed that social media can also be used as a platform for people to publicly congratulate themselves on their own demonstration of random kindness to others, and as a means of asking other people to do the same by Liking their posts. I’m talking about things like broadcasting their charitable donations, posting selfies they’ve taken with homeless people as they give them some lunch from Subway – I don’t doubt that the prime motivator of these people’s actions is presumably selfless, but I can’t help questioning their motives for publishing proof of having done them (is it really a true random act of kindness if you’re expecting a pat on the back at the end of it?).
When Tom paid for my petrol, there were several bystanders who were equally as amazed by his actions as I was. I hope that they went about their business that day and at some point told somebody else about what they’d witnessed, and maybe it promoted them to extend some kindness to a stranger. Whether as a recipient, an observer, or a performer of a random act of kindness, it seems that we all want to share in them. Perhaps it’s because they seem to be so few and far between these days; maybe we all need to demonstrate more random acts of kindness and make them an everyday occurrence instead of a special event – without any expectations other than, as Princess Diana said, “the knowledge that one day, someone might do the same for you.”
- Have you ever been the recipient of a random act of kindness?
- How did it make you feel?
- Did it encourage you to do the same for someone else?
Finally, take a moment to check out Tom’s website – if you know someone who needs the services of a professional Master Farrier in Hampshire, please share it: