Random Acts of Kindness

Firstly, many apologies for the long gap since the last episode of The Emu. Did you notice? Well, it’s all been a tad busy round these parts, what with families to worry over, careers to mis-manage, and, most importantly, the plotting of the return to form of the blues tampering monsters of pub rock that are 4D Jones. It’s all been a bit ch-ch-ch-changing, as the less than thin white Duke probably says to himself on a regular basis these days.

I do like a bit of change in life, as it tends to keep you on your toes, and this parenting lark, which in the last few weeks has been like viewing the whole world through parted fingers, is a fine example. Just ask me about #1’s 18th birthday party next time we bump into one another and I’ll tell you tale that would curdle the freshest milk. Still, probably not best to dwell on this too much. It’s not really what you might call broadcastable material.

Anyway, the other reason I’ve not been filling up my bit of the internet with the usual drivel is that, for the last few weeks, I’ve had very little to get cross about. As regular readers* will know, this blog is largely the charting of my steep decline into being a grumpy old man, except without the payment. And, rather delightfully, I’ve found myself in a rather splendid place. I realise this is all a bit insular, what with the global financial crisis, continuing genocide and starvation across the world, and the ecology of the planet being irreversibly damaged by some sensationally stupid actions, but sadly, those things don’t occupy my thoughts as much as they should, and the prospect of a late train, a bad pint or some twit in a nylon shirt trying to provide his own special ‘retail experience’ have far too high a profile. And, by and large, those little irritations have been, well, just that in the last couple of weeks. So much so, in fact, that I decided to not get teed off with the world about the little things and to have a little bet with myself around little ripple effects of positivity.

This all started with the saga around a car that I really shouldn’t have bought, which was desperately unreliable, and which caused something of a rift in the homestead, what with our son and his chums being left stranded at odd hours of the day and night on the hard shoulder of the A11. Anyway, after quite a lot of faffing around, a certain amount of subterfuge, and, frankly, lying through my teeth to my wife, someone I didn’t know did me a massive favour, fixed the car, and wouldn’t accept any payment. I’ve kind of scampered through that bit of the story, but let’s just say for now that, should you ever need an MOT and you happen to be in Norwich, go to DR Laws on Bessemer Road. There you will meet the sort of person who won’t rip you off, have a firm understanding of what customer service is about, and, for all I know, be a potential godfather to your offspring.

Anyway, after this experience I started to think about random acts of kindness, and how seldom seemed to happen these days. Needing to code my life, as we all seem to need to these days, I decided to actively search out the opportunity to perform these acts, and set myself the target of one a day. And, you’ll be unsurprised to hear, spectacularly failed. For the first four weeks I looked for old ladies to help across the road, people with heavy bags of shopping, and children looking lost or frightened. Be warned, gentle reader, because if you start looking too hard for those sort of people, you do get a few odd looks. And comments. There is such a thing as trying too hard, after all. And, other than a chance meeting with a cat and a car on a run home last week, where I managed to diffuse a potentially ugly standoff between the two parties, I’d managed a null score across a whole month.

Last Thursday, however, my luck seemed to turn. I jumped into a cab in London, to find that the cab was turning away a couple of other punters. “Sorry” I said. “But I can give you a lift if you want to go to Liverpool Street.” Which, funnily enough, they did, and after a bit of looking at each other in a sort of ‘should we trust this person who may well be some sort of sociopath’ style, in they jumped.

On the train, my lucky roll continued – the screaming schoolgirls sat next to me were smiled upon gently despite the fact I could barely hear myself think. Off they hopped at Colchester, and all was quiet, until, with the train doors locked, their little heads bobbed up and down at the window, and the slightly muted screaming was heard again. I looked down and noticed that they’d left a set of headphones on the floor. With what I like to think was a cat-like grace, I grabbed the headphones, legged it to the end of the carriage, opened the window, and handed them their headphones. “Thank you soooooo much”, they shrieked. Returning to the carriage, an elderly woman looked up at me. “That was a very nice thing to do” she said, and I reflected that, despite this being the sixth 2-hour train trip I’d taken in four days, it was the first time that anyone had spoken to me.

Cycling home later that evening, I saw a bike locked up with a front light switched on. So I stopped, and switched it off.

So there we are. Three in one Thursday. Which means, with my one a day target, I have to start again tomorrow. So, if you’re reading this, are an elderly lady standing by the road in the NR2 area, then watch out! You’ll be across that road before you know it…

* Hello to both of you


2 thoughts on “Random Acts of Kindness

  1. Maybe we need a Do Good Thursday hash ta ( a la #ff)… how about Try Nice Thursday #tnt or Random Acts Thursday (#rat)?

    Opportunities for good deeds do seem to come like buses. It may be just that the first gives you such a rush – and leaves one in such a grand state of mind that you are _more-likely_ to do more..?

    Whatever the cause, it seems that the good deed often benefits to do-gooder more than the recipient. That shot of Karma (and I’m pretty sure some actually bodily chemical reward (dopamine?) too) is such a prize, a natural high missed out on by individualist curmudgeonistas.
    However, with that in mind recently I have tried to accept help graciously. Not manufacturing opportunities for others to assist me (although my wounded leg act is pretty convincing 😉 but where an offer is forthcoming to allow them to give. Which I find is harder than it sounds – my narcissistic ego ironically drives me to be as pius-as-possible (I am the humblest man in Norwich didn’t you know!?) Altruism is sometimes (for me) in danger of becoming almost entirely about myself. So the most altruistic I can be is in letting someone else do the deed and take the credit.

    Is morality and motivation always such a complex minefield to navigate?

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