My favourite reaction came from a panhandler. He and his girlfriend are homeless but they do their best to stay positive. He said that they like to be particularly nice to other homeless persons who look a bit more rough around the edges because life on the streets is not easy, especially if you’re a bit scary looking. He thanked us for listening to him and took the flower we offered him (a stem of three mini-roses). He said that he would use the each of the flowers we gave him to make three other people’s day.
I really like how he immediately thought of how he could pay it forward and ‘share the happy’.
Apprehension is not something that I generally associate with the act of giving but that’s what I was feeling while handing out flowers on the Boston Common. Random acts of kindness are something that sound wonderful and makes you feel good to proclaim that “Yes, this is something that I do! I am a bearer of goodwill!” but the reality of it is that it causes people to confront situations that they may not be uncomfortable with. For me it was the rejection that was hard. Each time someone refused to meet my eyes or walked a little faster away from the flower in my hand, it caused a bit of personal hurt to bloom up inside. I knew it wasn’t me, that I would probably act a bit suspicious if the situation was reversed but acknowledging that didn’t stop it from happening. It was only a tiny bit of risk that was involved in this act of giving but it was surprising how much impact it could still have. It also made the interactions that I did have that much more special because it meant that the passerby decided to also accept a small amount of risk by taking the flower from me. It was a brief connection and also a reminder of the individuals that we let pass us by as we walk down the sidewalk with our eyes glued to the ground.
My favorite part of the day was coming across someone who had run into
the other group of us handing out flowers. He got so excited by what we were doing that when he saw us doing the same thing, he gave me a fist
bump. For that, he got an extra flower :D
I think my favorite reaction was when we were still putting tags on the flowers and a 10ish year old girl just ran up and was watching us until I asked if she would like a flower. The girl didn’t say anything but her mom just smiled and was like “Oh! She loves flowers! We have to stop her from taking them out of people’s gardens sometimes. Thank you so much!” I think the mom was more excited, but I am hoping we made the little girl’s day too :)