Hypothetical question: If a random stranger on the street approached you and offered a free cupcake -- just because -- would you take it?
Greg Gano and Sarah Sellman from American Bear, along with myself undertook that exact experiment a couple of months ago in the beautiful city of Scranton, PA. The idea was to pass out random snacks of kindness while promoting a simple message -- be kind.
Of course, Greg and Sarah were no strangers (bad pun--sorry) to this type of experiment as they had already been doing this type of exercise across the United States starting back in July of 2010. Their cross country adventure had them relying on strangers for a place to crash every night while travelling for two months to all the towns named “Bear” in America.
They simply wanted to see how kind strangers would be to other strangers in need.
Needless to say, their experiment was a success and a movie was made (click here for the trailer), BUT the lessons they learned have gone with them as they continue to promote kindness through their network of other like-minded strangers.
So when Sarah had emailed me, I jumped at the chance to partner with them! I suggested we meet in the middle (Scranton, Wilkes-Barre area) to spread a little kindness on a Saturday morning. And with cupcakes in hand, we took to the streets.
It took a little while for us to find some takers, but once we did, it didn’t take long to pass out pan after pan of delicious cupcakes.
While driving back to south central PA, I had a chance to think about the day. Here are a couple of observations:
1. It doesn’t take much to make someone’s day.
While walking around downtown Scranton, we had the chance to interact with a variety of people - some were waiting for the bus, others were heading to the Italian Festival, and one gentleman was waiting for his sister while he was on his way back to jail -- all of them remark about how happy they were that we were there. A couple of guys were replacing a sewer line remarked that we were saints, one shop owner thought we were angels, and the two friends under the eaves made a remark that we brightened their day and gave them hope about future generations. This all happened just by showing kindness to a handful of strangers.
2. A smile goes a long way.
Thinking about this event makes me wonder if I should have worn a black trench coat with an evil looking bunny mask to see if what I was wearing would have affected the results of our experiment. The obvious answer is, YES! There is no doubt in my mind that when Greg, Sarah, and myself smiled and were warm and friendly to strangers, they were much more willing to enjoy a cupcake.
3. Strangers aren't usually dangerous.
Yes, I know what we were all taught back in grade school, but is that safety lesson meant to spill over into adulthood? It’s my belief that we tend to be wary of ordinary, everyday people because we were taught that strangers want to harm us. This simply isn’t true, and our “random snacks of kindness” campaign seemed to shine a light on this.
Given all this, when was the last time you showed kindness to a stranger?
Posted on Mon, November 19, 2012
by Drew Elliot filed under