Small Acts of Kindness (Especially Necessary in Hard Times)

Darling, some people have the blessing of getting to the point where coins, small bills, £1 coins etc. become unessential to happiness and well-fair being, that joyous day when you no longer empty your pockets and wallet when you get home to see if you have enough to buy something you need (such as dinner). If that time comes, when you have no debt and you can buy a new perfume without a second thought, it is time to set that money free.

Some people, lucky in certain ways but not in all ways, have had this chance from birth and, with good parents, have been inculcated to give. For others, there were times in life when 5 dollars was important and now it isn’t, so do you best imitation of Elsa and “let it go.” When someone puts change in your hand, look around for a tip jar, ‘leave a penny’ bowl or charity box and send it on its way.

There is also the practical fashionista angle: coins weigh down your pockets and spoil the silhouette of your dress. They create havoc in your purse, ruining the lining, hiding in corners and making it so heavy, the purse pulls at your shoulders. They clog your wallet! Trying to tame and organize small bills takes time better spent signing on-line petitions, and you open your purse to refresh your lipstick and a cascade of coins and small bills fall out, most unattractive!

Or see it from a religious perspective – a kind of on-the-go tithing. Darling, you  need to give back to the universe, to let things (and energy!) circulate. Open your hands so that the powers that be can bring new and interesting objects and chances. Read your Tosha Silver!

If you take after your father’s side of the family (sigh), think about enlightened self-interest! You never know how the universe works, what immediate, concrete and helpful consequence might be the result of dispersing largesse, even if it isn’t that large.

Once your dearest auntie was stuck in a crowded cafe; there were no free tables and circumstances dictated that I had to stay there for over 2 hours. I bought a coffee and small slice of cake and was attempting to balance those with my purse and bags, when quelle miracle, a server appeared, took the coffee from me and carried it over to a free chair. I set my purse and bags down, then opened my purse and gave him a large tip. Then I tried to get myself situated with bags at my feet, cake on my lap and coffee in my hand; within a minute, the server was back and placed a small table in front of me. Bliss! Instead of juggling coffee and cake, I could set them down and relax. Two other people saw this and demanded their own table, yelling “Bring me one!” and were told “Sorry, last one!” One yelled, “But I was here first!” The server said, “Sorry, I did not see you,” and disappeared.

Some would say that one should help all people equally, a lovely sentiment that is true for many situations. But when you can afford an expensive, nonessential coffee, you can afford an inexpensive tip. I don’t think doctors should organize waiting rooms in this manner, big spenders first, but we must all follow the wise words of Dolly Levi: “Money, pardon the expression, is like manure. It’s not worth a thing unless it’s spread around, encouraging young things to grow.”

Oh the days when a extra $20 meant a cheap purple mascara, a cold soda, a magazine and a candy bar – two hours of bliss. Truth to tell, I (moi!) once received hardback books for Christmas, exchanged them for paperbacks and took the extra money to buy food with. If you have ever had days like that, never forget them, and if you never did, don’t forget that others do.

Of course, Darling, if you have it, you should be giving big money to whatever you please: medical causes, museums, charities, schools and universities. If you can, set up automatic donations – money taken out of your account every month and off to help animal shelters, preserving civil liberties, candidates you dote on or saving whales (not to mention seals, hummingbirds, wolves, hedgehogs, turtles, wombats and the planet). Darling, you won’t even notice the money is missing as it flits away to do good.

But the little stuff – send that out as well: tip extravagantly, say “I don’t need the change” at independent cafes, roll up small bills and stick them between books on bookshelves for someone to find (especially in the self-help and philosophy sections), stack coins into little piles and leave them on the bathroom counter, drop coins in the ‘change’ compartment of candy and soda machines, get inventive and let go.