A while ago, I agreed to participate in a world-wide "Blog It Forward" event. The rules were simple. Do something nice for a complete stranger. Blog about it. Done. How hard could it be?
Oh, the famous last words... (or not famous at all, really, especially as no one heard me pronounce them, plus I have a tendency to talk a lot of crap anyways - but idioms are all part of the fun).
So it's Friday. I have four days left to do perform my random act of kindness. Bring it on, strangers, I am here to be nice to you. Step one, need to find some strangers. Don't particularly feel like walking up to my local girls, though, they might get the wrong idea. And what nice thing could I do for them? Buy them less revealing leopard-print tank tops? No, that won't do.
Ah, here we go. Some German guy I have never heard of (yes! a honest-to-God complete stranger!) is making a promo-film about people's favourite books. He needs someone to interview in Paris. I can do that! It's a pretty nice thing to do, right? Surely that falls within the conditions of the Blog It Forward event. Ah, hold on, he's paying participants fifty euros. Any chance getting paid for something still makes it an act of kindness? After all, I didn't ask for the money, did I? No?
Fine. It's Saturday now. I'm heading off to Brussels for the weekend, and it might be difficult to start doing random nice things for Belgian people while I'm with my friends. Who knows what they'll think. Besides, I'd quite like to keep the niceness in-country, you know. But lo! Is that a woman in distress I see on the metro platform beside me? Yes! A chance to get a random act of kindness in before I leave! What a glorious opportunity!
"Excuse me, are you lost?"
"Yes. Is this line 3?"
"No, this is line 4." See? I'm helping already. "You can't take line 3 from this stop. You can only take lines 4, 8 and 9." I'm really going all out now with all this additional information.
There we go. Act of kindness done. Granted, it won't make for a legendary blog post, but it's about the being nice, after all, not the writing and critical acclaim.
But hold on a sec. She hasn't moved. She's still standing on the platform.
"M'am? This is line 4."
"I need to go to Quatre Septembre. Line 3."
"Yes, I see that. You can't get there from here. This is line 4."
This is not promising.
"To go to line 3 you need to go to a different metro station."
"This one, over here." I point to her map. She's holding it upside down so it takes me a while to find the station I want to point at.
This is when the metro arrives. Mine. Line 4. The one that will take me to Gare du Nord and my Thalys to Brussels. I look at my watch. I'm running a bit late. Right before the doors close, I throw myself into the carriage with my bags. The woman stays on the platform.
Did my random act of kindness require me to physically escort my stranger to the right station? Or have I already done my bit? Surely it's not my fault if the person upon which I have gratuitously decided to bestow my kindness is either deaf or mentally challenged? Is it?
No. This one counts. I'm sure of it. She probably will find line 3 eventually if she wanders around Paris long enough. And I contributed to that. I can feel proud of myself. Mother Teresa is looking down on me now and smiling.
And next month I can always go shopping for leopard-print leotards.
Want to read about some more random acts of kindness? Check out blog postings by Red, Vanessa, Paige, Caroline, Sharalee, Bianca, Linda, Sasha, Trina and Jennifer. The Royally Kind Blog-It-Forward series is the brainchild of Jill from The Duchess Guide.