Inspired by Random…well, kind of…

Posted: February 27, 2013 in Philosophy, Random

Certain things have happened in my life that I don’t remember all that well: most of high school, the jobs I had leading up to my current one, and even certain things since I’ve been married that I otherwise should remember pretty well.  I don’t really remember my first date with Janine, or the first time I told her “I love you.”  Memory is a funny thing, though…because there are certain things I remember with insane accuracy (or at least, what I perceive to be accuracy): where I was when I received a phone call from my current employer inviting me for an interview; the events leading up to and including my first kiss with my wife; and most relevantly to this blog entry, exactly what I was doing when the idea for this website came into my mind.

We had just finished service at church on a Sunday morning and Janine, Zoe and I were walking in the Church parking lot toward our car.  I remember looking over toward one corner of the parking lot–a black Nissan Altima was parked there, and it had a personalized plate.  Kind of ironic, but in spite of my “vivid” memory of the situation, I can’t remember what the license plate said.  But the car caught my eye because it was backed in, and the cars around it were all pulled in.  In the blink of an eye, this website existed in my mind–and although at the time I couldn’t have predicted what it would eventually turn into (as I still can’t–this thing continues to evolve), I knew it was something I was going to do.

The service that day was a real “rah rah” kind of service, where I left feeling like I wanted to accomplish something (“inspired,” perhaps).  And given my passion for randomness, the title was the first thing that I came up with, even before I knew what I would be posting.  Yet in the four months I’ve been blogging, although I was inspired the day I paid for the domain, I have not once been truly inspired by random–at least in the cause/effect sense of the thing.  I am inspired by randomness; but it wasn’t until today that I was inspired by some random act.

I left for work this morning later than I usually do, and pondering my extremely busy work schedule over the last month or so, I figured that a stop by Dunkin Donuts for some coffee and a breakfast sandwich was well worth the extra 10 minutes added to my commute.  I am a firm believer in maintaining mental health in any way possible, and that it is far more important than physical health–but I’m not going to get into that now.  Needless to say, I had no issue justifying the trip.

But still, I was running late, and anything that was going to make me even later was automatically going to annoy me.  So, I’m sitting in the drive thru line after I put my order in, and I’m next in line to get that sweet elixir of caffeinated goodness, and the frickin’ lady in front of me is chatting it up with the drive through attendant.  It was, at that moment, the most annoying thing that could possibly happen.  I would never honk my horn while in a drive thru line, because I don’t want to be ‘that’ guy, but I can’t say I wasn’t tempted.

Anyway, chatty Cathy and shmoozey Suzie finish their conversation, and I pull up to the window and stick my debit card out the window so we can get the show on the road.  The drive thru attendant looks at me, smiles, and says “the person in front of you paid for you.  She wanted me to give you this,” and she handed me a business-card sized paper that says something about random acts of kindness.

Mind….blown.

It was the absolute best thing that could have happened to me at that moment.  Obviously the story goes from there–I was elated, my coffee and breakfast sandwich tasted so much better because they were free, I felt like a total asshole for being so annoyed that the person in front of me that was just trying to pick up my tab…you know, the normal, rational progression of things given the events.

But still, really cool.  I know I have to pay it forward–and I will.  I get to pass on the card somehow, maybe at a different DD, maybe in some other way entirely.  And I bet that lady felt great.  She probably had an awesome day at work, or at least an awesome morning.  I was riding the “free breakfast” high all the way through lunchtime!

One nitpick, though (it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t nitpick this somehow, because I am a total asshole sometimes): there wasn’t anything random about it, per se.  It was intentional, and the business card drove me to look at a website that I otherwise would not have looked at.  It wasn’t religiously based, or at least not outwardly religiously based; it is a nonprofit that promotes doing nice things for people.  So still neat, but kind of weird, too.  That site visit cost someone just over $5, which I guess is pretty decent.  Then again, you visit my site for free–so maybe there are other things they could try.

So here’s a new goal–I’m going to have some of my own cards made (I think…).  Same general idea: “I did this nice thing for you, now you go and do something nice for someone else.”  The end.  No website, no name, just thankless kindness.  And I want to give out one per month, just for the heck of it.

What makes this all so peculiar to me, and how I tie it in to “Inspired By Random” is this: given my recent dishwasher woes, and my dad’s recent computer woes, it seems that we worked out a pretty good barter: he helps me put in a dishwasher, I help him fix up his computer.  The idea of a barter-based economy has been on my mind lately.  In the context of this morning’s events, imagine if every time you hit the drive thru, you paid the bill of the person behind you instead of your own.  Effectively, nothing would be different from what we do currently–but everyone would be working on an infinite-loop barter system.  It’s an interesting idea.

Thanks for checking in.  Be well, and stay tuned.

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Comments
  1. […] old” portion of the blog). With Jake, who finds himself Inspired by Random (and sometimes truly random), the similarities are many, but not always as predictable. One of the points of disagreement […]

  2. Chelsea says:

    Is that a true story? How are your acts of kindness going?

    • Jake Daum says:

      Yes Chelsea, totally true story. I’ll admit, though, that I haven’t gotten around to getting those cards made. I actually had a conversation with my brother about it last week, so maybe in the near future I’ll get that going.

      I just need to stop being lazy, which is my “first position” of sorts.

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