But lately a new phenomenon has been quietly appearing: the random, gratuitous act of generosity. Let me give you a couple of examples that I am familiar with:
The writer of a letter to the editor of the local newspaper wanted to thank the person ahead of him in the checkout line at a local supermarket. The writer noticed that the leading person was buying a gift card. When the writer went to pay his bill, the cashier handed him the gift card and told him that the preceding customer had asked her to pass it to the next person in line.
The second incident happened to Barbara and me last Saturday at a restaurant where we had gone for breakfast. When we asked for our check, the server told us that our bill had been paid, tip and all, by someone who said they didn’t know us and we didn’t know them. We were free to go.
To show the prevailing attitude, when I repeated this story to friends, their first question was, “Were you dressed like a homeless person?” Well, I didn’t think so, but I suppose appearance can be relative. It's more likely that most people, including me, have trouble accepting the idea that a stranger would go out of his way to do something generous for another person
If this insidious practice spreads, who knows what societal upheavals might result?