Goodwill Tour 2013

giving back

Rules of Random

So the point of the trip was to try to make people’s days, to give them a random bit of encouragement. Given the limited amount of time we had, money was the best way to give, and we wanted the gifts to be anonymous.

We discovered that anonymously giving people money randomly is a bit tricky so here are some of the rules we followed —

• people who are asking for money are not random, they get nothing. A bit harsh maybe, but one of our goals in random giving is to avoid that plague of philanthropy — incentivizing poor behavior.

* conversations are good, especially if spontaneous and genuine.

* we only give out envelopes at points of departure. The idea is to stay anonymous and just give a brief, helping hand and encouragement. We don’t want awkward thank yous. The cash is accompanied by a card with a Bible verse noting that God provides — Philippians 4:19. — and leaving our blog address in case the recipient wants to see how they fit into the bigger picture.

* getting on the very next bus is made impossible by greyhound’s rule that you have to buy a ticket two hours ahead of time. This will ruin many a spy novel’s plot.

* Talk to everyone. That least likely person will have the greatest story and sometimes a song.

* love the tempo. Random means no planning, and no planning means missed connections, no room in the inn and meals at unusual hours. That said, you can’t be late for random, which is a beautiful thing.

* Recruit co-conspirators. This was a lesson learned late in the trip (see post on Brandi). People love to be part of the giving. We dropped off envelopes to several folks and encouraged them to pass the gift along to those who needed a boost. But in the case of Brandi, we allowed her to do the giving (a free meal) while we were still present. She loved being part of keeping our secret and in on the conspiracy.

* Bring comfortable shoes. The US is not very transit friendly, the bus to Hickory dropped us in the middle of nowhere and we had to walk 3-4 miles to town. The corollary to this rule is if you haven’t heard of the town, greyhound will not drop you off at its center.

* Avoid motels with bullet-proof glass. We learned this in Richmond where the hotel clerk was behind a good 2-3 inches of glass, the roof was sagging and dealers’ cars peppered the parking lot.

* Never assume the motel room is non-smoking and without past pets.

* skip the jeans and bring more underwear.


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