I heard tonight about a social experiment with roots in Los Angeles…a person who has made it big in real estate has been hiding money randomly throughout the city, leaving clues on Twitter about money locations, gathering friends and families and communities members in searching for this money. People must do a few things…first, once the money is located, a winner/finder must take a selfie and post to their Twitter account, and secondly, use part of that money to pay it forward. Simple, selfless, and reinvigorating! It’s the craziest thing, but kids are outside again and navigating through their communities in this hunt…win lose or draw, they have literally been on a treasure hunt, gaining if nothing else, valuable time with their friends, family, community. I read one post that said the hunters had found nothing, but for the first time in her life, her city seemed happy…what a compliment! The phenomena has spread to different parts of the world and as of late, is coming to NY! How fantastic…and what a way to give back to the communities.
I am a firm believer in random acts of kindness. I certainly am not someone who can leave hundreds of dollars tucked into the sand or a tree or a flower bed…I’m more someone who needs that flower to blossom $100 bills! But, I pay tolls for cars behind me…I’ve done it for years. It began when I was younger, trapped in an aggressive broil of traffic…it was hot, my AC didn’t work, and being from Maine I am far from an aggressive driver. I was young and alone…no cell phone at that time in my life…traveling on my limited college budget. As I moved in traffic and was cut off repeatedly approaching an accident just before the Mass Pike toll, I was terrified that my car might overheat…what would I do? No one would help me. I did not have money for a tow truck and home was over an hour away as was my father…he always fixes my car! A white car stayed with me, behind me, never leaving me alone the entire way…for more than an hour he stayed close by, like a guardian angel. He did not let anyone come between our cars…he didn’t pass, he didn’t push, he didn’t blast his horn…just stayed right with me for over an hour. We finally got to the toll…I told the attendant, “This is for me, and this is for the man in the car behind me. Please tell him thank you for staying with me all this time.” And off I went…traffic was clear and smooth after the toll. The white car caught up with me…he rolled down his window and said “Thank you” then took off. That was the last I saw of that man and his white car…but it was the beginning of randomly paying tolls for people behind me. Whenever I have extra change or bills on me, I pay those tolls. I have never forgotten how that white car’s presence made me feel safe…whether it was his goal or not, I was not alone and all I could offer in return was to pay that toll. Two weeks ago, an older couple was behind me…I paid the attendant who said “This is too much.” I responded…”Please tell the couple behind me Happy Saturday, and pay it forward.” They were seniors, in their little Volvo, cruisin’ down Hwy 16 in NH…absolutely adorable and reaffirming my faith in marriage and love. So cute…it sounds silly, seventy five cents or a dollar…it’s not envelopes of money like HiddenCash, but it’s what I can do right now. Maybe it brought a smile, and i know I got a thank you…but I didn’t do it for me, it’s just my way of saying thank you…letting someone else know they are not alone, even if just in that moment.
What strikes me the most about all this is that in a time when we often question the kindness and humanity of people, those angels are out there (and I’m back to HiddenCash now, not me.) I pay tolls for people, HiddenCash hides money, people help the homeless, some help the Veterans, others supply food kitchens and feed the masses. It’s refreshing to hear about these things and these people…it’s not about gain or fame…it’s about sharing, giving back, being part of a community, sharing goodness and kindness wherever they are. It invigorates my faith in humanity, in our ability to rise above all the negative and ugliness and anger and cynicism, to let a light shine in our communities in whatever capacity each of us may possess. I felt so happy and could not wait to jump onto my blog and talk, record how excited I am by this…not because I expect to find an envelope but because so many people out there need that money, that kindness, and I truly hope the recipients go on to share kindness of their own. It may sound silly but it makes me so happy what HiddenCash is out there doing…I loved seeing the footage and people scattered and searching and celebrating…I love the Twitter feed and shared stories.