Although I am really enjoying giving my things to friends and family members, I get a big kick out of giving anonymously, in part because I can fantasize about who might have received the gift, but more because it seems like a more purely altruistic act of giving. The person who receives the object has no obligation to thank me for the gift – they can simply enjoy it. I say purely altruistic, but I guess that’s not completely true since I do get pleasure out of seeing a box of free goodies that I have left one day on the sidewalk sitting there completely empty the next. And yesterday, it made me smile to see that the pot with the rosemary plant was no longer sitting on the corner where I’d left it the other night. Someone wanted it and that made me happy.
Today, I decided to give something anonymously again, but in a way that involved the cooperation of another individual, one of the check out staff at our local Gelson’s supermarket. I couple of months ago, I’d done something similar at Trader Joe’s when I handed one of their staff 4 or 5 tote bags and asked him to give them away to customers who had forgotten their own bags, but today was a little different because I gave away a more useful bag and because I realized something new about this type of giving. Today, as I was paying for a handful of items I needed for tonight’s dinner, I handed the cashier a small Chico Bags-type compact re-usable bag, the type that can be folded up and kept in your purse so that you always have a shopping bag on you (https://www.chicobag.com). These bags sell for $6 at Gelson’s and are much more practical than the regular tote bags, which are easy to forget in the car. I explained to the cashier that I’d like to give the bag to the next customer who needed a bag. Like the last time, the cashier hesitated for a moment, but then said, “Sure. I’ll give it to someone who needs a bag,” a response that was particularly satisfying considering I was potentially depriving Gelson’s of $6 in revenue! What was even more gratifying was that I realized that once he agreed to be an accomplice in my Giveaway, not only would he be able to enjoy the act of giving to another, but he would also be thanked for the gift, both of which have been scientifically proven to be good for our sense of well being (see February 23). So, perhaps this compact little shopping bag, which can expand to contain heaps of groceries, was also able today to spread some goodwill and happiness in the Gelson’s checkout aisle.