As we head full steam into the festive season I have been recently reminded of the potential of humanity through a stranger’s random act of kindness.

Like most people, I have moved into the technical banking age. Leaving the wallet at home and using my iPhone for payments. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s convenient, until the shopkeeper advises his “terminal is down” and it’s cash only.

On a recent trip to the outskirts of Melbourne I found myself at a small shopping centre in Hurstbridge. My task was to find a strawberry milkshake for my 7 year old boy! A simple task that became quickly complex.

After ordering, the cafe owner advised me his terminal was down and he was accepting cash only. I checked all my pockets but to no avail because who carries cash anymore! All through COVID nobody wanted cash, and now, when I need it, I don’t have any on me. He said you go find some and I’ll get started on the Milkshake, thinking this would be an easy task, I agreed.

I raced back to find my partner at the IGA. I called out down the aisle “you got any cash honey? the man’s ATM is broken” then having had a brain explosion I asked the young lady at the IGA counter if they did cash out like Coles do or Woolies do? She advised she could give it a go but she thought I would need the actual card, not just the iPhone tap.

Alas! It didn’t work. So now I have a cafe owner making a milkshake that I’m unable to pay. No ATM in sight, no way to get cash out. To my surprise, the young lady working at the register bent down to her handbag under the shelf and pulls $5 from her own wallet. She says “go, take this.” I was mortified. I had money, just no cash. She insisted “it’s no big deal” she said, “take it and get your milkshake.” So I thanked her profusely, promising I would come back. I turned as I walked out and told her that she has made a 7-year old boy very happy today and went to collect the milkshake.

Now, remember this is someone who lives in Melbourne and usually works in retail, in a state that has been locked down for months. She works on the register at IGA having only been back in employment for two to three weeks and decides to hand over $5 to a complete stranger with absolutely no way or thought of having it returned. My heart is warmed by such random acts of kindness and all I could think was not only pay it back but pay it forward.

Later that afternoon we headed to the airport with a detour to that IGA. My 7 year old took the $5 and handed it back to the young lady behind the register thanking her for his strawberry milkshake! Surprisingly, she said “you’re back, you know I thought I’d never see you again.”

Today, I thought about random acts of kindness and how each of us have the potential to contribute to building a kindness culture in our community. It doesn’t have to be money, it could be giving your time or helping someone out, making a meal or a cup of coffee or even just some encouraging words with a smile.

I bumped into someone at my local café who had seen one of my webinars, she was struggling coming from the travel industry so I gave her an hour of my time to help her out!

So, as we head into the silly season, what will be your random act of kindness? That is, where you do something without any expectations or obligations of return or recognition.

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