How to improve someone else’s day (and your own)


Yesterday morning I woke up 7am. It was Saturday, so I’d normally lie in until about 8am, but the jet lag has taken a firm hold on my sleeping and waking hours so I’m behaving like a child – bed at 9pm, up at 6am.

I put on a scarf, coat, woollen socks, gloves, hideous beany hat and hideous fake fur coat, with a large hole in the armpit, and began my journey to the corner shop (that isn’t on a corner, so isn’t actually a corner shop – but sells sweets and newspapers, which I think is the more important justifying feature of a corner shop than its location) for bread and the Saturday Guardian.

I walked about three metres from my front door, eyes fixed on the ground (as is necessary in these weather conditions, to make sure I’m not standing on snow-coated dog poo) and saw a £20 note, wet and limp, flat on the floor. I picked it up, looked around to make sure no one had seen, then pocketed it.

After collecting a warm seeded loaf, I approached the till, planning to break into the 20 (instead of using Rich’s debit card – I’ve been a victim of fraud, so mine’s been cancelled and he has to pay for everything: not the end of the world) and panicked slightly at the sudden realisation that it could be a fake 20, or a trick – stuck on a long piece of string, man holding other end yanks it away as soon as it touches the till – but it wasn’t.

I skipped out of the shop, delighted with my free freshly-baked loaf and newspaper, and tried to phone a few people to share my news. Everyone was still asleep, except my mum – whose reaction was of genuine delight – so I posted it on Facebook. Here my news received about seven likes.

It then dawned on me that perhaps the heavens had arranged for this 20 to fall into my hands, following my – not in the slightest bit traumatic – fraud (they stole 1p). I decided that I should keep half; a tenner is still a great find, and give the other half to someone who really needs it. I had in mind the homeless man who sleeps under a bridge on Hackney Downs. I’ve often drunkenly told Rich that I’m going to supply him with those little Japanese teabag-size things that you shake and they get nice and hot but I’ve never quite managed it. If I give him a tenner, he can buy whatever he likes.

Sharing your good fortune is the best way to attract more positive experiences your way. This might make your seemingly altruistic act somewhat less altruistic but nothing is wholly without personal benefit. If you donate to a charity – you’re doing so to ease your own conscience, as much as to help the beneficiaries. But this is getting a little negative.

Basically, giving something to a homeless person who is being forced by extremely unfortunate circumstances to sit outside, alone, in the freezing cold might give them a little bit of hope. I don’t believe in karma, or God, or in a higher being dictating that all do-gooders will be rewarded (the heavens didn’t really arrange for me to find that £20, it was pure good luck) but I do believe that helping other people out is good for the soul. It will make your day better, as well as theirs.

1 reply on “ How to improve someone else’s day (and your own) ”
  1. Annie – this is lovely – and quite funny …I particularly like the bit where you mention that you ‘have been a victim of fraud’ …and you’re using Richard card 🙂 anyway – win win!! hope to see you both very soon xxx

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