A Guide To Making Someone’s Day
Sometimes, you wake up in such a blisteringly good mood you’re somersaulting out of bed, eating problems for breakfast and crapping rainbows. Other times, (let’s face it, usually) you wake up looking like a yeti and smelling twice as bad, then ransack the cupboards for carbs and coffee to feel half human again. We get it, no judgment. On those occasions, the best way to get your morning back on track is to make someone else’s day brighter and hopefully yours will dawdle along behind like a sheep with amnesia. We’ve assembled a few ideas for how to make someone’s day and asked them to line up in an orderly fashion.
Pay It Forward
Pay It Forward, the schmaltzy film based on Catherine Ryan Hyde’s equally schmaltzy novel, certainly has a lot to answer for, especially the truly astounding size of Helen Hunt’s bangs. Seriously, those things are huge. In the film, Haley Joel Osment’s character goes on a giving bender for a school assignment and tries to manipulate three people into being happy, hoping to cause some sort of contagious ripple effect. He’s kind of succeeded because in real life, it’s unleashed an army of ordinary citizens trying to pay for each other’s coffee. Following in the pay-it-forward spirit and guided by a tradition in working class cafes in Naples, a dude named John M. Sweeney founded the Suspended Coffees movement in 2013 and the concept’s spread like wildfire. So next time you’re ordering your decaf half-caf double-shot cup of whatever, ask whether the cafe does suspended coffees and pay for the next person’s order or for someone needy as well.
If you’ve never heard of BookCrossing, it’s basically a worldwide scavenger hunt for books, like Pokémon Go for bibliophiles. Not only can you jump online and search for books left in public places in your neighbourhood, you can release one into the wild yourself. Pick a volume that’s been gathering dust in your to-read pile since 19-dickety-two and register it for free on BookCrossing.com. Simply download or create a label for it, then set it down at a bus stop, in your favourite coffee shop or in the hollow of a tree trunk and wait for some unsuspecting passerby, dedicated BookCrosser or confused barn owl to find it. There are all sorts of other groups and meet-ups organised through the site if you’re so inclined, making it even easier to nerd it up in the nicest possible way. The site tracks a mere 11 million books across 132 countries, so there’s certainly no shortage of literary love to exchange with likeminded word nerds. Gotta catch ’em all, indeed.
One fine day, some enterprising individual hit on the scheme of kidnapping a garden gnome from a neighbour’s yard and taking them on a trip round the world, sending photos and postcards to the tiny fellow’s mum/dad/handler back home. Online travel agency Travelocity has even co-opted gnome-napping as part of their advertising (on Twitter and Instagram as @RoamingGnome). If you’re not keen on pilfering someone’s household knick-knacks and taking them on vacation or a tour of your town, you could buy a pocket-sized gnome and post him off to a random hostel, school or nursing home overseas and invite his unsuspecting host family to send pics back. Give him a totes appropes name like Gnorman or Gnoah, write an introductory letter with his back story (his ancestors come from Gnorway, gnaturally) and let them know his Insty account or your return address so you can see how he gets on. Gnifty.
Picture it: you’re wearing a safari suit, trekking through the jungle slashing down giant Venus flytraps and triffids and death weeds and other plants that totally exist and aren’t made up. Sadly, guerrilla gardening is rather more low-key, but still rather intrepid in an urban warrior sort of way. Pioneered in New York in the ’70s, the practice essentially involves planting green shizz on land that doesn’t belong to you, whether to pretty up the surrounding grey cityscapes, feed hungry locals, or because you sold your cow for some magic beans and are looking for a handy patch of dirt to offload them. Plan a covert operation in the dead of night, rig your trouser legs with ingenious gadgets to drop seeds on the sly in daylight hours or play it by the book and contact your local council to seek their permission (lame, but *cough* for legal reasons, totally what we recommend). That grimy car park, fugly roundabout or aesthetically-challenged nature strip will be giggling and twirling in front of a mirror in no time.
Caring Is Sharing
Receiving a box filled with life’s little essentials and a few tiny luxuries like toothpaste, toiletries, non-perishable foodstuffs, socks, puzzle books and a letter filled with kind words can make all the difference to someone who’s struggling. Happily, putting together a care package is a cubic shipload of fun and kids particularly love helping, so gather around any young smelly rellies you may have for the shopping trip and bundling the loot together later. Our soldiers deployed overseas, refugees, homeless people, and those escaping domestic violence could all benefit from a box of goodies, so check with agencies such as The Salvation Army, the Asylum Seeker Resource Center, Beauty Bank, and your favourite charities for guidance on where to post your package and what to include in it. It’s tricky to predict what the people you’re buying for really need, so it’s best to simply ask. Good stuff.
One way to make the world a brighter place for everyone is with random acts of art. Nope, we’re not talkin’ about heading down to the train tracks with a spray can and graffitiing your tag on the station walls. Think prettier pursuits like yarn bombing, bedazzling a bush, or constructing a full-on street sculpture out of duct tape, a coat hanger and a wad of gum like some sort of arty MacGyver. As with guerrilla gardening, “improving” fixtures such as parking meters, fences, stobie poles, and bike racks by knitting them a neat little tea cosy is, er, somewhat legally murky, so check yourself before you wreck yourself by sussing it out with local council types first and making your masterpiece easily removable should someone take umbrage. Beginners in the artful dodging domain would do well to start with their own trees and walls at home and then branch out. You’ll be crocheting your way to a woolly wonderland in no time.