I Have Always Depended On The Kindness Of Strangers

If there is to be a silver lining in this recession, it would be that people are feeling a lot more empathy towards strangers. A bleeding heart liberal myself, I really love that people are starting to move away from some of the capitalistic “me, me, me” behavior that is so truly American. I also really love that I’ve been fortunate enough to be at the receiving end of some of these random acts of kindness (aren’t I American).

For instance, a totally random act of kindness happened to me this past Saturday. Friends were in from out-of-state so I met up with them at some bars.  At the end of the night, and a few beers in, it was time to go home. Far away from an easy public transportation route home, and caught in an apparent monsoon, I decided to do what someone facing imminent unemployment should never do. Take a cab home. While in the cab, I decided to have a lengthy cross-town conversation with the driver (alcohol makes me a Chatty Kathy). After telling him all about my current employment situation, and asking him many, many questions about his home country of Morocco, we pulled up to my apartment.  We had just driven clear across town in the pouring rain, I had been asking him questions the whole ride-and some of them were ridiculous questions I’m sure, yet when I handed him my money for the cab fare, he refused to take it! Even though I’m sure I could probably classify as one of the most annoying passengers of the night, he told me that he thought I needed a break. It was so sweet. And obviously I took him up on the offer.

Another really nice thing happened to me where I’d least except it: in the prison that has been my office for the last five months. One of the secretaries that works in my office has been tipped off to the fact that I subsist on food that E buys with her food stamps. This is really not something that bums me out, but this  must have struck a chord with her because almost every time she leaves the office on an errand she’ll come back with some sort of snack for me. It’s not doing wonders for my diet but it’s so nice. I wish I could pay her back somehow before I leave my current position, but I’m not quite sure how to pay her back without spending money. Making a card out of construction paper doesn’t really cut it for twenty-somethings, which is too bad. I make beautiful glitter glue letters.

Anyhow, these experiences have helped me decide that when I become obscenely wealthy in the future from my lotto/sweepstakes earnings, I want to take part in random acts of kindness towards strangers.  Maybe if I win the Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes I’ll give that to someone really poor. I’ll already have all sorts of other lotto earnings to get me through. Ok, but in all seriousness, I really think that these poor years of my life will color how I handle money in the future-making me more philanthropic.

I hope that goes for other Americans affected by the recession, too.  Poverty won’t end just because the stock markets start going up again. Hunger won’t disappear just because the housing market starts a bounce back. No matter what happens there will still be people who are down on their luck. The news coverage will just stop showcasing them. Right now, I feel like many Americans empathize so well because there is a kind of mentality that “we’re all in this together”. I hope that the “we” doesn’t turn into “you and me” once the economy recovers. People who are down on their luck will still need a surprise treat to brighten their day, or a free cab ride across the city. I don’t want this recession kindness to just go away once the economy turns around.