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.

1 comment:

  1. I did a carboot sale with my man the other week as we are decluttering before baby and move happens. A polish chap was looking at one of Mr's old caps. He put it down to walk off and I called after him he could have it. He stopped and looked at me, I said he could have it for free as it would just be going to the charity shop and we were about to pack up... he didn't understand. I said to him, just take it. No money. He didn't understand. It wasn't until the lady also on our pitch told him gratis, nada, nothing, free he got what I was trying to say. I dont think it was the word he didnt understand, I suspect he just didnt think that people did that... that makes me sad.