Column by Timothy Chipp —
What did you ask for your last birthday? Maybe a new car, or some new clothes. Or maybe you wanted your spouse to pay more attention to you.
Tuesday I turned 31, a not so special age to celebrate. Instead of making a big deal for myself, I decided to try to make the lives of strangers — people I’ve never met and will never get to know — a little bit better through some random acts of kindness. I enlisted the help of some of my friends to do it, too.
They took to the streets of Niagara, Buffalo, Florida, Washington, D.C. and other, less glamorous locales to make a difference in the world, even if it was just a temporary one. My friends, to steal a baseball euphemism, hit it out of the park Tuesday. And it was clear the ones who participated fully received the payoff they’d hoped for.
One of my buddies from my other life besides newspaper reporter – acting – was rewarded with a smile on the face of a woman he’d just met in a hallway of a local hospital where he works, the best possible payment for his action. Having just come across this woman, he noticed she was visibly frazzled by something happening. So he went out of his way to buy her a coffee and a muffin and presented it to her.
“It appeared to make her day,” he told me over Facebook later that evening.
Others paid for gasoline purchases for strangers or helped supermarket shoppers grab items they weren’t capable of reaching themselves. Some took on extra work to help their colleagues and helped lighten the load on their shoulders.
That’s the ultimate goal behind experiments like this one. Those of us who perform these random acts don’t look for payment in return, we don’t look for exposure in newspapers and television coverage. We’re after the smiles that come to the faces of our targets and the thank you’s they deliver, often overjoyed.