Tuesday, 10 November 2009

A Fashion Post

I was at one of my sample units preparing some pieces from my SS10 collection working alongside Chris a good old East End boy who had been a tailor man and boy. We were working on a skirt with an oversized waistband and it just didn't seem to be looking right but I wasn't quite sure why. A lady who was at a training course at the unit was observing us. She looked very carefully at the skirt and in a matter of fact way suggested placing an extra button on the waistband. This was genius and made the piece work. She didn't have to do that and I appreciate her help. Fashion is a business that I am new to and I am realising that help can come from the most unexpected of places. I am humbled.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Fashion Kindness from Tim Soar

Tim Soar is one of the rising stars of menswear in London. His approach to detail and tailoring have created a loyal following. I have been collecting a few of his pieces and have been happy with them until this February when I was in Thailand, that I noticed that the fastening button on my shorts had melted, yes melted! I have never witnessed this before or since. Since I am a man, I completely forgot about it until the high summer when I decided to send an email to Tim's customer services explaining what had happened. That same day, I received an email from Tim himself, saying he would sort this out personally. True to his word, a whole new set of buttons turned up a few days later with a cool note. I was touched as my experience in the fashion world has taught me that designers have a lot of people around them that "handle" things and to deal with my problem personally shows a lot of class.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Living on no money and stranger's kindness

I had run out of examples of kindness to post when I cam across this article from the BBC's website. Living on no money and strangers' kindness

Thursday, 20 August 2009

A Boston bus drivers kindness

To juxtapose Heirloom's bus driver example, a few weeks ago I took the bus to work and promptly went to eat. About ten minutes into my meal, a coworker called me to tell me something urgent demanded my attention. I figured she was just teasing me for eating while on the job, so I ignored her. Five minutes later she came to me and told me she was serious. So I went downstairs to find the bus driver, who had found my wallet on the back seat of the bus and came to deliver it personally. He ended up being at least 15 minutes late, and probably penalized for it. I was very, very grateful


Monday, 10 August 2009

A kind and unexpected gift from California

My wife returned from the BlogHer conference in Chicago bearing many gifts for the family. I, being partial to nuts, was the recipient of an array of exotic nut based snack foods. Amongst these was a Pearson's Salted Nut Roll. I examined this for a while wondering why a savoury snack was packaged like a confectionery bar. It was only when curiosity gave way to temptation that I finally sunk my teeth into it. I was first met with the saltiness of the peanuts but then my taste buds were assaulted by the sweetness of a nougat like centre. My brain was telling me that this was a weird and horrible combination, yet my mouth was strangely enjoying the challenges of the contrasting tastes. I finished it and thought that was it.

A few hours later the withdrawal symptoms started. This was a real problem as it is not a taste experience that can easily be replicated in the UK. Google did not provide any easy answers so I turned to Twitter. To my surprise one of my very kind Twitter friends @sprmama messaged me that a box of Pearson's Salted Nut Rolls were on its way to me from Sunny California. I had just tweeted that I wanted to know if anywhere in the UK sold these but my very kind friend took it upon herself to send me a box.

I was completely taken aback and still am today when they arrived at some expense to my friend who I had only exchanged occasional tweets with. As with all examples of kindness, I am humbled and thankful. In a way this not only shows the kindness of a person, but also one way that a social network can make our world a little smaller and a whole lot more welcoming.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Of bottles, snow a struggle to survive and a woman's generosity

last winter, on a very cold night an elderly lady was walking slowly in a snow storm picking up bottles and cans. Over here, most bottles are recyclable for a refund so often people who are more or less indigent pick them up to get some money. the lady had a bag half full as she was going by a building. a young woman came out of the building at the same time, and upon seeing the lady, she told her to wait there for a minute. she rushed upstairs back to her apartment, and a couple of minutes later came out handing two full bags of bottles to the lady. She helped her carry them to the store behind the corner where they could be returned, and the lady wouldn't need to look for anymore in the snow storm that night.

Mike L

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Trains, Kindness and Automobiles.

One very cold dark winter morning on my way to school, I was walking down the slope towards the bus stop, as i saw the bus come a couple minutes early, and so I ran up to the bus, knocked on the door, but the driver just ignored me and kept driving away. I kept knocking along the bus as it drove away from me and I saw people stand up in the bus and call for the driver to stop, but still he didn't. Next bus would leave in 30 minutes. I started cursing and screaming at that idiot. I felt humiliated. Then a lady in her younger thirties pulled up in front of me and offered me a ride to the train station even though she was going the opposite way. That saved my day.


Monday, 3 August 2009

The rain brings out the best in some people

Something small, but two years ago i went to dinner with my girlfriend for new year's eve, and decided to go to City Hall afterward to watch the countdown while we were at it.

As the latter was unplanned, we weren't prepared when it started pouring heavy rain. A couple who were leaving saw us and gave us an umbrella (they had one each), said Happy New Year with a smile and off they went.


Saturday, 1 August 2009

The things that bother me in my search for examples of kindness

Now that I have been looking for examples of kindness for a couple of months, I sit back and take stock of what I have achieved, what I have learned and what I want to do next.

My main offensive weapon in gathering examples of kindness was Twitter. I posted at least 50 tweets asking for examples of kindness and achieved a few postings. I was however, very surprised that a fashion forum I belong to called Style Zeitgeist was actually a lot richer in coming up with examples. In fact from a single thread I achieved half a dozen examples of which two of them rank as the most thought provoking. The lesson here I guess is that examples of kindness and the sharing of them can happen in any surroundings.

I did have my eyes opened, however, to the number of groups there are out there promoting the doing of kind acts. I became aware of many new phrases and movement such as Random Acts of Kindness, Pay it Forward, Pass it Forward and so on. Whilst I think all genuine acts of kindness are to be applauded, I struggle largely to understand Kindness Organisations. There are exceptions such as Diego Villaveces Pass it Forward group in Australia who I respect greatly, but I think they are the exception not the rule. I was approached by a Kindness Organisation via a comment on one of the posts on this blog and to be fair it read like a political manifesto. I have struggled internally whether to publish it or not. In fact I still haven't decided. On the other hand, I see other groups that I can harshly categorise as Tree Huggers. In neither case do I see a mass change in kindness because I do not see the mass attraction for groups like these.

It is so easy to jump on a kindness bandwagon but it is not my intention to do so. In fact I don't want to change the world by making people act kindly. I just want to show the effects on kind acts from the receivers point of view. If that makes the reader act in a certain way, then fine. If not then that is also fine. I do not believe in a kindness business model nor do I believe that any organisation can make people kinder. I believe that acts of kindness are very personal and are examples of the generosity of the human spirit. They have the ability to make us feel better about the world we live in and the people we share it with. No more and no less.

Friday, 31 July 2009

Kindness on a train journey from Athens to Yugoslavia

About 20 years ago, when I was a school kid, I took a overnight train from athens heading for "yugoslavia".
and happened to share a compartment with a korean guy who seemed to be around thirty.
in spite of summer, the temperature began to drop rather low. then he proffered his blanket to me.
although I appreciated his kindness, I felt too bad to make him chilled because of me, and had to decline with thanks. but he told me to use it and pretended to be alright and sleep.
we didn't seem to have the choice of being wrapped up in the blanket together.
so with thankfulness I slept in it. woke up around dawn and since I got to sleep enough in warmth, I returned it to him so that he could sleep well at least till thessaloniki where he was supposed to transfer for turkey.


Thursday, 30 July 2009

A woman in need, the woman who helped and the lad who....

In January this year it was very icy. I was walking to the shops, pushing my babies in their tandem pushchair. I skidded crossing a road. I'd just got the pushchair up the sloped kerb on the other side when I heard a thud behind me. An middle-aged woman had slipped and fallen in the road. She looked as if she was in pain. A small crowd gathered around us, keeping traffic away, as I gently helped her to her feet. She already had one arm in plaster and she was worried she had broken the other arm. We were outside a bicycle shop so I took her inside. One of the shop assistants called for an ambulance, another kindly wheeled my boys inside. The small crowd had dispersed, probably because there was nothing more to see.

Although the injured woman, Sharon, told me to go, I could sense that she didn't mean it. So I asked the shop assistants for a chair and a glass of water for her. The she needed the toilet. She said she would be okay on her own, but after a couple of minutes she called for me. I was worried about leaving my boys, so I kept talking so they could hear me. I knew they would cry if anyone tried to take them (I know, I'm paranoid - that's what being a parent does to you)! Poor Sharon. With two broken arms she couldn't do anything for herself in the toilet. If either of us was embarrassed we didn't show it.

As we waited for the ambulance, Sharon showed signs of going into shock. I managed to sit her on the floor and kept talking to her. Eventually the ambulance arrived and they took her to hospital. I thanked the lads in the shop for their help, although I think they were glad to see the back of us.

One week later I was passing the bike shop. One of the lads ran out to talk to me. I thought he may have heard from Sharon, or was going to ask if I'd heard how she was. But no. He asked "Have you wiped any old ladies' arses this week?". S.
This is a great example of kindness and the contrasting ways in which actions can be perceived. On first and second reading, I didn't quite get the final paragraph, but on qualification I was correct in that the lad in the cycle shop was trying to be clever. Trying to be clever but not quite coming across that way?

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Our daughter amazes us AGAIN

I am a mum of four with a family that you all too easily stop seeing for what they are on a day to day basis.

I have just returned from a five day trip to Blogher in Chicago. Leaving my family behind was tough for us all but I can see now that it has ignited a flame between us all as we feel the magic of stolen conversations and messages that we should never have lost.

My kind act is small but monumental to me.

My little girl has personally special things - her cuddly bunny that I gave to her on her first Christmas and her snuggly blanket.

As I was getting ready to leave for my trip she gave them both to me so that I could have the same safe feeling when I am alone miles away from home that she feels when their comfort engulfs her.

She is seven years old and very special.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Neighbour, stranger but a saviour.

A few months ago, I had purchased a new counter top that we use as a desk, balanced between several drawers units. the whole piece was about 12ft long and weighed a ton being wood. I needed to carry it up 5 floors with my girlfriend, as we were half way through the first floor and already frustrated, a neighbour we have never seen came into corridor. she was a middle aged woman, she basically left her bags there, kicked off her heels and started carrying the table with us all the way up to the 5th floor. Without her help, we most likely would've left it halfway and continued later as it was so hard to manuever in the staircase. the fact that she would stop on her way out and spend a good 10 minutes helping us even though we've never met before was really heart warming.

Mike L

Sunday, 26 July 2009

My daughter amazes me.

The thing I love most about my kids is their ability to completely astound me. Take this morning. Biba 7 and Betty 5 had spent the first three hours of the morning shouting at each other. This is not an uncommon occurrence. We then did our usual thing of going to the local car boot sale. We did not anticipate how cold it was going to be as it has been reasonably warm over the last few days. Betty was shivering and complaining how cold she was. Biba immediately took off her jacket and gave it to Betty, leaving her with just a T shirt on. She said that Betty's needs were greater than hers. It's things like this that make my life so much richer.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Kindness in Melbourne = A crime in New York

Just thought I would share, this happened last year.

I lived in the Melbourne city and had parking meters, there was an officer putting tickets on cars who's meters had run out. I watched this lady parked her car, got out and walked to the meter and insert coins. As she was about to walk off she saw an officer a few cars down and looked to the meter for the car next to hers. That meter had expired, she then puts coins for the car next to her.

It just struck me as a nice thing for her to do even if they were strangers. Glad to see there are so unselfish people in this world.


Unbelievably this action is an actual offence in New York and would have earned the lady a ticket of a different kind. I guess acts of kindness do know bounds. Geographical ones.

Friday, 24 July 2009


Last week, my ex-coworkers daughter died. She was 5, was born a month after my own daughter. It was a hellish week. The power of imagination, I hope to never deal with you again.

Examples from the Stylezeitgeist Community Part 1

I am happy belong to a community at www.stylezeitgeist.com They are a group of individuals who are passionate about technically brilliant and spiritually dark clothing from labels such as Carl Christian Poell, Rick Owens, Julius etc, Typically the members are young, professional and spend a LOT of money on attire. Although there were no related threads I thought I would see if I could get any examples of kindness from them. I was very happy to receive many examples almost immediately which says so much for that community and why I am happy to be part of it. The first comes from a senior member who goes by the ident CRZ and is from Sydney.

I have heard a lot of stories from friends and family in relation to random acts of kindness, and have had the privilege of helping other people.

A friend was telling me, that one time at a petrol station/gas station, he had filled up his car full tank (expensive these days), he went inside and to the counter told the attendant which pump he was at, and had a pleasant shocked. The attendant pointed to a guy outside who was getting into his car, and said "he already payed for you". He was really surprised, he never met or even saw that guy before. So now, whenever my friend fills up at the pump and has extra money he does the same for other people.

Another story: i used to do contract work around the sydney CBD and caught the train everyday for about an hour. i used to buy 'day tripper' tickets (these were fully reimbursed by my company) , which allowed travel anywhere (on train, bus, ferry) all day. used to start early in the morning (5-6am) and get back to my train station around mid-afternoon. so, at this point i had no use for the ticket for the rest of the day, so i used to give it to people who were about to buy a ticket and 'looked like' they could use the help. a ticket is only $5-10 or so, but i guess it helps!

Ok last one: as i said, i used to catch the train everday, and occasionally stop off different stations depending on where i was working that day. i got off at a station that was at the time under a lot of construction. it was a really busy morning, and i was running late by 10-20 mins, but i saw a blind man, and it was obvious he wasnt used to the train station/platform due to the renovations/construction work going along everywhere. i was checking my watch, cos i hate being late. i was really in two worlds whether to help or not, thinking "he'll be ok"..but i sorta followed him, seeing if he was ok, but after a couple minutes it really was apparent that he was having difficulty. so i approached him, and asked him where he was going. he described the place, which i knew, and it turns out he was going the totally opposite way. so for the first time in my life, i was leading a blind man (he was holding on to my shoulder), and it really did feel good to help. looking back, i havnt ever been in the same situation, it didnt matter if i was late.
i tell this in all humbleness, and hope that people in this world could make a difference in another persons life, no matter how small it may be. "be the difference that makes a difference"

Monday, 20 July 2009


I was sent a link to this by omgpregnant one of the best supporters of this blog. Thank you so much. Its strangely romantic don't you think?

Friday, 17 July 2009

The kindness of a bus driver

My sister came back from a year away in Canada last week and was arriving to meet me in Birmingham by coach. As she didn't have a mobile on her she knew she had to wait until I arrived as I wasn't exactly sure where the coach stop was or where I could park. As I was trying to find somewhere to park I received a call from my sister (on the bus drivers mobile). She then passed the phone to him and he gave me directions. I was quite a way from where I needed to be but the bus driver waited with her so that I could call back if I needed to (I did need to) and so that she wasn't waiting on her own. Bless him he could have just left her (she is an adult after all!!) but I just thought that was really kind of him.

submitted by Keira O'Mara mother and owner of www.mamascarf.co.uk

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Sometimes a small act of kindness means a lot.

A tweet

man in the queue didn't have enough to pay at the post office, so I gave him the money. Only 10p but I felt good!

Sometimes what we perceive as a small gesture can actually be a big deal for the recipient. I can just imagine him having to go back home to get 10 pence and go back to the post office. I reckon it was worth a lot more than 10 pence to him! Great story, thanks.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

I am haunted by my actions

I collect and publish examples of kindness. I do not claim to be kind in return as it is not for me to judge. I do however believe that in order to be able to chronicle examples of kindness, I must at least be able to accept my own failings and strive to be a better person. On that note I am haunted by something that happened a couple of years back.

My family holiday in Phuket every February. We take time out of the working year to spend three weeks in what we think of as paradise. We stay at a top hotel where our every whim is taken care of. We spend our days lazily recharging by the pool and our evenings we wander around Patong, the main holiday town.

Phuket is a place of many contrasts. There are many wealthy visitors from Europe, America and Australia who bring welcome currency to this Thai island. The Thais, themselves make the most of the tourists in terms of trade. Like all countries there are a proportion who are forced to beg for a living.

One night we were walking along a main street in an area where there were no shops or hotels, when we came across a beggar. He was on his stomach dragging himself along by his arms. I could see that he had one leg missing at the knee and his thigh bone was clearly visible. He was an old man of at least sixty, which a weather beaten face which did not show any malice or ill towards the world. He was just asking for some money to carry on living I guess.

I looked at his leg and thought about getting him some antibiotics which are readily available over the counter. This would have at least helped him against infection. I would have cost me no more than a couple of pounds. I could have given him enough for a decent meal as well and have had change from four pounds. On this night the urge to carry on walking was greater than the urge to help this man. I ignored him and carried on walking. I looked out for him every night following that hoping to be able to right the wrong I had done.

To this day I still think back to that night and the things I should have done, with the utmost regret. I should have taken responsibility and done the right thing. It makes me think about all the times when we could chose to do a kind thing but end up doing nothing. In a quest to spread examples kindness in the world, perhaps it is those pivotal moments we must first address.

For me, I will carry on regretting my lack of action. I never did see that man again and can only hope that someone better than I gave him the help he needed. I am not worthy of judgement beyond that.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Contrasting kindness from high street brands

My son who is eight has enthusiastically followed his sisters into the world of modelling, with no small measure of success. In fact last week he had two jobs lined up. One for a budget retailer QS Group on Thursday and for a very well known premium high street brand on Friday.

We had been kept well informed as to what was expected of us and the schedule we would undertake by QS but had received nothing from other job.

Thursday came and we travelled to Nottingham to a very light and airy studio in the Lenton area. The only downside was the mini heat wave we were experiencing which obviously made the job harder for all involved. That said, the team from QS really seemed to understand working with children and genuinely looked as if they enjoyed it. In fact one of the team, Simon, spent the best part of four hours playing games with and generally keeping the three children who were at the shoot in a happy frame of mind. The four hours soon passed by and all of the children really seemed to enjoy themselves. In fact my son commented that he didn't realise that he had been working! He also took great pride in telling everyone he had a job the following day as well.

I was getting concerned by this point that we had still not heard about the Friday shoot and it was 3pm by this time. At 4.30pm we were told that he was no longer required . No explanation, no apology. We told Sonny and he quietly went and sat in a corner on his own. I knew he wanted to cry but he's a brave little soul.

Well in my world of rights and wrongs, you just cannot mess with young children like this. They need to be made safe and secure in their world and if they are to suffer rejection it is preferable to at least give them the courtesy of a bit more time. I know kids get over things but that is not the point.

We received a very nice email from James, the head of marketing at QS saying what a pleasure it had been to work with Sonny. That made his day.

I thank James, Simon and the rest of the QS Group team. I thank James for his email. He didn't need to do that and it was a kind thing to do.

A message of support from the Crazy Columbian

I received this message from my friend Diego AKA the Crazy Columbian and thought I would share it with you all as its content is relevant to us all.

Thanks for sharing the story of your epiphany and the impact it had on you. As you start operating in the kindness space you will find just how many people are working on bringing the same message to others, and wanting to inspire the world to be just a little bit kinder.

As you know, whilst you are working on catching stories of kindness, I am working on inspiring more giving in this world (pifaustralia.org). One thing worth sharing here is that whilst it took a REALLY big act of kindness to raise your awareness to the possibilities of a more open, kind world, for many people this can be achieved through the daily example of small acts of kindness. In a way, few of us will be prepared to give our car to a total stranger, but all of us will feel capable of doing just one act of simple kindness today: smile to someone who looks beaten down and ask how they are (oh, and wait to LISTEN!); Help someone who is carrying somthing heavy; give a handwritten Thank You note to someone who deserves it; Share 5 minutes of grief with someone who has recently lost a loved one. These are a few of the ways in which we can be kind on a daily basis without the need for money; I encourage you and your readers to both lead by example and then catch others being kind and recognise them for their efforts. As the little book "Whale Done" demonstrates, we can all train each other by rewarding the desired behaviour, even if the act is really small.

Good luck in your cause, and thanks for letting me contribute to your blog.

Warm regards,

Diego (The crazy Colombian)
Founder and Leader
Pass it Forward, the Australian kindness movement

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Kindness can be found anywhere

My family consisting of my wife, her son who is eighteen and our three children aged under eight go most Sunday mornings to a large open car boot sale or open air market as some may know it. It is mostly full of people just like you or I selling their unwanted possessions interspersed with a few traders selling everything from fruit and vegetables through to electrical goods. Now considering that this is a place where people largely sell for under market value, you may be forgiven for thinking that this would be a strange place to find random acts of kindness and so would I but I guess that the human spirit being what it is, can manifest itself everywhere.

Take today for example, a trader was shouting out "Bunch of bananas only a pound!" I watched a dad with his young daughter approach him and ask if he could buy a single banana. The trader asked if the banana was for the little girl and when the man confirmed this, the trader fetched the little girl a single banana. The man asked how much he wanted and the trader replied looking at the girl, "No charge sweetheart." Now this is a trader who was selling at under market value so his margins must have been tight yet when confronted with a hungry young girl, he saw fit to give her a gift.

The people who run one of the catering units insist on giving us a small discount every time we visit. She didn't broadcast this, she just did it quietly. I only found out when I gave £10 to the lady for a £9 order and she gave me £1.50 change and when I said that it was too much change, she said she knew this but she wanted to say thanks for coming to her above all the other caterers. You could argue that this was good business practice but the fact that she had to be coaxed into admitting that she had given us a discount is an act of kindness in my book.

My young daughters often get small items given to them which is amazing considering that people are there to make some cash in these hard times, yet they can still appreciate the impact that an act of kindness has on a small child. Sometimes they will be looking at a stall and asking how much something is and stall holder may say "You can have it darling." or words to that effect.

These are people who are subject to mindless haggling over ten pence from endless professional shoppers. I know this having sold at these events over the years. It can make you less than patient with people. This said, I find it incredible that some of these people can in one moment stand their ground against an irritating shopper and in the next offer a gift to a small child where the only payment is an excited smile and an amazed thank-you.

I guess the lesson that I take from these experiences is that an act of kindness is not governed by a persons wealth or lack of it. It is a state of mind regardless of who or what they are. In fact I have witnessed more true acts of kindness from everyday folks than from the more well heeled. By that I mean people who don't stand to gain from publicity or a tax break. I am paying homage to people who just give because they want to.

The more I make a point of looking out for acts of kindness, the more I believe that they are never too far away. If we all try to look out for them, maybe we might all feel good about the world around us.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Pass It Forward

I was introduced to a man who goes by the name Crazy Columbian by Maverick Woman. She suggested that there was some synergy in what we were trying to achieve. It transpires that Crazy Columbian is the founder and CEO of the Pay it Forward Australia. It is an important story which has inspired me. His story is as follows.

In the year 2000, Catherine Ryan Hyde wrote a book called ‘Pay it forward‘ which made it to the big screen that same year. A wonderful story, it tells of a little boy who decides to start a “pyramid scheme with a twist” as a school project. The pyramid scheme is based on you doing something good for 3 strangers, and ask them to ‘pay it forward’. As people pass the goodness of their hearts forward, the world becomes a better place. This little boy starts with the desire to change the world, one step at a time, and finds some obstacles as he tries to do ‘good deeds’ and to get the recipients to Pay it Forward.

The story was uplifting, and left a deep mark on my soul when I saw the movie. But it took me 7 more years to realise I can be like that little boy, and start a Life project to encourage other people to pay it forward. As I worked on the idea with my life partner Ines, we agreed to slightly change the name to ‘Pass it Forward’. We believed that you can’t Pay for acts of kindness; only pass that kindness to someone else.

The concept of the card came from a smashing success by internet columnist Randy Casingham with his ‘Get-Out-Of-Hell-Free‘ (aka GOOHF) cards over the last several years. If he was able to create a card to encourage others to use humour in their everyday life - especially when confronting difficult situations - why not do the same for the Pass It Forward movement?

The concept of trying to change the world, one step at a time came to me in November 2006 as I went through some personal re-evaluation of my life, was inspired to focus on what really matters in life. As a result, I started changing many aspects of my life and started working on the creation of Pass it Forward in Australia.

Diego Villaveces (Crazy Columbian) has a vision of inspiring 5 million incremental acts of kindness by 2012.

Having shared some DMs with him (yes real ones) I am very much looking forward to our imminent first conversation. It is interesting how our approaches to what is essentially a similar goal differs. Diego is successfully persuading people to perform acts of kindness directly, whereas I am trying to achieve that by reporting the deeds from the recipients point of view. Either way I am starting to uncover many groups across the globe who have a goal to spread kindness. I will look forward to maybe starting a dialogue with them too in time.


Monday, 29 June 2009

Am I talking to a real person?

I love Twitter. I have met several lovely people i the Twitter Universe that I would gladly have a coffee with (I am teetotal). I apologise for mentioning Twitter on several occasions lately but I am so drawn to the daily rhythms of life as seen through 140 characters.

There is one thing that I am not so fond of, the DM. As I said in last nights post I have decided to follow everyone who follows me. I do not care what you are pitching I will follow you. I do not care what your politics or religion is, I will follow you. I believe that there is good in all people although you have to look harder in some than others.

I do not think that when I follow someone, it is necessary for them to send me an automated DM saying thanks for the follow etc. Some are cleverer than others and really appear to be talking to me although they are not. I know this for a fact because I have started to reply to each and every one as follows.

Please prove this isn't an automated reply! Give me an example of kindness to publish at http://alittlekindness.blogspot.com

I am waiting with baited breath for the first one!

I don't think there is anything wrong with thanking someone for following you if it is really done on a 1:1 basis, welcoming a dialogue but I want to follow a person, not a robot. The thing is the DM should really be used to communicate in the real world and I fear that all the automated DMs just make the recipients bin the lot without considering that some might actually be for real.

SO If you are also subject to automated DMs PLEASE can you insert my text above and lets just see who is real in cyberspace and who is not. I will pass on all real messages I get back, I promise.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Maverick Woman

Following on from yesterday's post I entered today with a feeling that I can only describe as euphoria. Its that feeling when a million things go through your mind at the same time, all positive, sending many waves of back-of-the-neck shivers.

Today I decided to post yet another "looking for an example of kindness " Tweet. I must have sent 30 of these messages out into the Twitter universe and received one example of kindness back. This is despite several of the Tweeters who I communicate with on a daily basis re-tweeting this for me. In fact I had not received any communication from anyone other than people I regularly speak to.

I knew today would be different. Sometimes when the back of my neck is tingling I truly believe anything can happen. Lo and behold, shortly after posting the tweet I received a message from Maverick Woman who has 2,500 followers and is following 2,700 people.

My followers, this post touched me. I recommend take a look at @byyanto: and his quest for kindness http://ow.ly/g0Oq - also @crazycolumbian

Now I follow over 600 people and its hard to take stock of all the tweets I get so I hesitate to imagine how many messages she must get. I was genuinely moved that someone like her would contact me. Anyway, I replied as I always do thinking that was that but she didn't stop there. Over the course of the next 3 hours she sent out 7 further tweets in various forms to try and encourage her followers to help. I was so grateful to receive help from a networking professional who got where I was coming from. In my world it is great to open the door but to stride right through and sit at the table is more than I would expect from a first contact.

I guess that my original mental block with marketeers and networkers was very wrong. What I should have realised was that the skills that these people have, if coupled to my message would could be very powerful indeed. I look back on the cull of followers I conducted a few weeks back with regret. I am at best impulsive, judgemental and opinionated, just the right qualities for someone seeking examples of kindness! I am, however, learning daily.

Again I have been proved wrong but I'm kind of liking it. Again I am humbled by the help offerded to me by a stranger. I asked her for a quote for this piece and she said.

‘whenever you give kindness to someone else without expectation, the kharma circles back in the most unexpected ways’

When I started this blog, I expected to collect a number of experiences that people had and present them. Now I truly believe that if enough people can inspire kind actions from others, we can actually make a difference. I have started to be introduced to others that are thinking the same way as me. Maybe we can start something good together.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

I was wrong about kindness on Twitter.

I have been byyanto on Twitter for a few weeks or so and its has been an interesting ride to say the least. I was excited by the numbers of people that suddenly wanted to follow me. I agonised over what to tweet, wondering if it was entertaining or profound enough. In fact I got to about 360 followers before I came to the conclusion that in the case of many of my community I was really tweeting at them and not to them. It was also the same the other way around in that I was not really interested in tweets promising me business models and more followers. It was clear that I had no connection with a part of my supposed audience and I likewise with them. One night in a state of disappointment that people really weren't that interested in what I had to say, I purged my followers list.

I then received my act of kindness and that got me thinking that even marketeers and business gurus might have something worthwhile to contribute to an exploration of kindness. I therefore started following everyone who followed me and accepted the automatically generated DM which some follows generated with good humour.

I sat and read most of the tweets that I was presented with over a couple of days and realised that over 90% of tweets were again related to business and gaining followers which got me thinking. I had tweeted on several occasions asking for examples of kindness but had received only a single reply. That coupled with the usual content of the tweets I was receiving made me assume that kindness was not a topic that was entertained on Twitter.

In an epiphany moment I decided to do an anecdotal test using Hootsuite. I would send out a number of tweets proclaiming better business and more followers by following a link and also a similar number offering stories of kindness again following a link. I assumed from my experiences that the former would gain a greater click through rate than kindness.

I was very wrong. My business related tweets only generated 35% of the total number of click throughs I received. The ones offering examples of kindness were far more popular than I imagined. I assumed that I would get a similar split as the types of tweets I had been presented with but I was so very wrong.

Could it be that amongst all the deal propositioning that goes on that people are drawn to random unusual acts of kindness?

Although my study is by no means scientific it gives me the conviction that it is worthwhile collecting examples of the kindness we can give and receive. My faith in people is growing by the day and whilst Twitter seems to be a good forum for business, it is also the home of a whole lot more.

I do wonder therefore, why do I not get more examples from tweeters to post on this site?

Thursday, 25 June 2009

The kindness of a stranger. By MT.

A couple of years ago, I had been really ill for a few weeks with a kidney infection. As I felt on the mend, I thought I'd walk to the supermarket and get some healthy food in to help me complete my recovery. It was a mistake - I still felt awful and, having done my shopping realised I was going to struggle to make it back. I hopped on the bus and got off round the corner from my house, feeling really faint and dizzy in the hot day. And then the bags started breaking. Shopping was falling out everywhere, it was a total nightmare and I thought about just sitting down on the pavement and having a cry.

Just then, a young guy pulled up next to me in his car and asked if I wanted a ride home. I accepted and explained that I only lived round the corner - about 20 seconds later we were there! I invited him for a coffee or asked if I could buy him a drink, but he said he had to shoot off. I was just so touched by the kindness and compassion of it.

When I told my friends they couldn't believe I'd just got into a car with a total stranger, and, in a way, I shouldn't have. But it's sad that the world has got to a point where we have to be so cynical about these things.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Greetings from Osaka

One thing I forgot to write about in the last entry is about the kindness of others here. On the train to get our hair cut, we were sitting across from and elderly woman wearing a facemask. Facemasks are a common sight here (Japan) as people wear them to either try to stop the spread of any disease they have (or have been in contact with), or to try to help them avoid a common illness going around. As we were leaving the train she tapped me on the arm and held out a mandarin and a biscuit. I couldn’t translate what she said well, but she was giving them to us as a gift. We were stunned and had absolutely no idea why, but this kind of generosity back home would have caused a lot of scepticism.

This piece is kindly donated by Darlo from http://www.darlosworld.co.uk and made possible by http://twitter.com/EasyEcoLiving/

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Submitted by RF from Los Angeles

My brother was sitting in his truck waiting for my sister to come out of the school she was teaching at. He rolled his windows down so he could catch some fresh air. He heard some wheezing sounds but ignored them. Then the wheezing turned to a grunt. He turned around ready to defend himself if it was an attacker grunting behind him. Instead, he saw a frail old man, grunting, trying to catch his breath. He was walking up the hill aided by his cane. My brother asked if he was okay. The old man told him yes and to leave him alone. So my brother complied and got back in his truck. While he was sitting in his car, he watched the old man take a few more steps, stop, catch his breath and cough uncontrollably. He couldn't stand the sight of him struggling so he got out of his car and asked the old man if needed a ride somewhere. The old man relented and finally accepted. My brother escorted the man to the passenger side of his truck and waited for him to get in. But he was so weak, he couldn't, so my brother carried him in the truck. He then proceeded to drive the man to his house about a mile up the hill. When they got there, my brother noticed that the front door of his house was wide open. My brother asked if he was expecting anyone. He said had an appointment with a home health nurse and that he always left his front door open so that he can get in his house right away. My brother told him to wait in the car so that he can go and check the house to make sure everything was secure. My brother then went up to this stranger's front door, poked his head in to make sure no one was there. When he was sure everything looked secure, he went back to the truck to help the man out. He carried him out of his truck and helped him to his front door. My brother did not leave until the nurse that the old man had an appointment with arrived. As he was getting in his truck, the nurse came running out of the house with a note from the old man. He thanked my brother for his kindness and $20 for his gas. My brother tried to return the money but he wouldn't take it. So my brother left and picked up my sister from the school. On their way home, my brother got hungry and stopped at a McDonald's. As he was getting out of the car, a woman and a child approached him asking for some quarters. He said he didn't have any and went in McDonald's to buy himself a hamburger. While waiting for his order, he noticed the pair asking each passerby for money. Using the $20 the old man had given him earlier, he bought the woman and her child a complete meal. With meals in hand, he walked up to the pair and gave them the food he had bought for them. The mother started crying and thanked him profusely. She told him she had just lost her job and their apartment a few days back. Their money had run out and she was desperate to feed her son so she has had to resort to begging for money. My brother wished them luck and went on his way. My brother has always been very kindhearted, so when he told us about his day, we couldn't get angry at him for exposing himself to danger a couple of times. What if the old man was acting and was actually a carjacker/murderer waiting to pounce on his victim? What if someone had been in the house? What if the woman was using her son to attract people to rob? My brother answered, "What if I didn't help when I had the chance? What if it was me who needed help? Would you just walk away? Why not make a difference when you can? Life is short and too valuable to disregard." What else can one say after hearing this?

Saturday, 20 June 2009

What would you have done?

Ethan is my wife's 18 year old son. I have watched him from the age of 8 and can say without hesitation that he has grown into a very decent young man. He has that air of being streetwise and yet naive at the same time. This is a trait that only young adults seems to have. Anyway it transpires that a few weeks back he was driving home in the early hours of Sunday morning when he encountered a man lying on the pavement. Ethan then did a number of things the I confess I would not. First. He stopped his car. Second. He got out of the car. Third. He approached the man and asked him if was ok. He was just very drunk apparently. Fourth. He offered to drive him home. Fifth. He did drive him home. I didn't occur to Ethan that a man lying drunk on the pavement may pose a threat to him. His instinct was, when he saw a person in trouble, to help. I guess the world would be in safe hands if the next generation all thought and behaved as Ethan but I guess it just doesn't work like that. I can't criticise him for his act of kindness but at the same time because I am older and corrupt of spirit, I cannot condone him either. Oh by the way, when they arrived at the mans house he handed Ethan a £50 note as a thankyou.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Is it still kindness if it pisses you off?

This is a question which did not even cross my mind until my journey into kindness began one week ago to the day. Case in point today we picked the kids up after school and drove 50 miles to Birmingham where all three were due at a casting. It was past five o' clock by the time we set off for home. The kids were tired and hungry. Alas the traffic on the M6 was typically rush hour and the going was not rapid. Stop start traffic winds me up and my overall state of mind was poor getting poorer. Sometime later we reached near home and as the children had been eerily good, we bowed to their wishes and detoured to the local McDonalds drive through for a heap of Happy Meals. After placing our order we moved from the first window to the second. The order was taking some time to compile but to be honest I was in a semi-daze and didn't really notice, when I was interrupted by the man in the car behind sounding his horn and making mad waving arm gestures at me. I presumed he was pissed off that we were taking so long so I ignored him. I concluded that I had every right to stay exactly where I was and I was not for moving. I then spied him open his door and come towards me. The nature of drive through etiquette dictates that the drivers window is open so I assumed that I was going to have some kind of face off and to be fair I was prepared. He reached my window and I was ready. He looked in and said "Sorry to bother you but I wanted to let you know that your rear brake light on the drivers side is not working." I looked at him, kind of nodded and looked away. He the walked back to his car and got back in. The overriding words going through my head were PISS and OFF. The order finally arrived and was distributed and we drove the short distance home. After the kids went to bed, my thoughts turned to musings on kindness when I suddenly conceded that Drive-Through-Man might actually have been trying to engage in an act of kindness. I suppose the repercussions of not having a working brake light were worse than if they were both working. I suppose that he had nothing to gain from telling me that it wasn't working and he was only trying to help. I suppose that because I was a bit wound up from the journey, I thought he was just trying to gain smug points at my expense, all of which leads me full circle to my opening question. Is it still kindness if it pisses you off?

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

A lesser form of love?

I was going to write a piece about how I am always touched by the beautiful gestures made by my wife and children and how this was an example of kindness at home. I then got wrapped up in a debate with I as to whether it was love or kindness or both. I guess if it is within your family it has to be actions born out of love which in turn could be construed as kindness. But then again how can it be kindness if these gestures are what you would expect to deal and be dealt in relationships of mutual love? I never considered this and why should I? Maybe kindness is a lesser form of love given to those who do not expect it.

Am I surprised that I have not received any stories of kindness from my friends and my Twitter postings? The answer is I really don't know. My sister summed it up nicely when she said
"Wow, good story - i must admit if that happened to me i would be very sceptical about why a stranger would want to loan me his car - was it stolen , was he after something else?
So truly he was kind - which i must admit is a bit strange these days.
Trying to think of any acts of kindness that anyone has ever done for me or to anyone i know - can't think of anything at the moment - will of course let you know if i remember anything.
nice one!"

Saturday, 13 June 2009

The experience of kindness that starts my search

Barry Wootten was a man I was proud to call my friend. I had known him for nearly 20 years. We met when he was Advertisement Director of the Leicester Mercury and I was the Telesales Manager in the classified ads department. He constantly challenged me and was like a father figure. He died peacefully in his sleep on the 3rd June 2009. His funeral was set for the 11th June.

On the way to his funeral I decided that my car was disrespectfully dirty so I pulled into one of those hand car wash places about a mile away from the crematorium. I pulled into the cleaning bay and switched off my engine. I moved to the finishing bay and switched off my engine. When they had finished I went to set off but the car would not start. I had 15 minutes to go before the funeral. I asked the guys whether they could jump start me. They obliged but the car did not start. The realisation dawned that I was going to miss the funeral. Even if I abandoned my car and set off on foot there was no way I would make it in the time that was left. I didn't expect any sympathy from the car washers especially since they had to push my extremely heavy car out of the way but then guy who appeared to be in charge asked me whether I had fully comprehensive insurance. I replied yes and he immediately put his car keys in my hand and told me to take his car. I was completely stunned that this guy who I had never met was prepared to lend me his car. I arrived just in time. 90 minutes later I returned and thanked him again. I still could not believe that he had just given me his car to use. I said that I would very much like to give him some petrol money and handed him a £10 note. He refused to take my money. We had spoken earlier and I knew that business was very slow for him but even so he refused my money. For him it was the right thing to do.

His act of kindness released an optimism in me and made me consider that in this world a kind act can be every bit as shocking as a cruel one, maybe even more so. A couple of days later, having told everyone this story I realised that I wanted to seek out other stories of acts kindness from you to share on these pages. I hope that with your help we can fill this space with kindness..........