I was at Spar the other day. I bought a paper bag full of biltong, a bottle of milk and a bag of naartjies.
On the way across the parking lot to my car, holding my purchases in my arms, I was approached by a young boy, begging. I brushed him off. Irritated.
Then he said to me, “Please missus, I’m hungry. Just one naartjie.” That’s all he wanted. Just one naartjie.
I gave him a naartjie and one each for his brothers who were lurking nearby, looking wary. Then I turned on my heel and walked back into Spar.
That bag of naartjies had cost me R3.99.
I bought three more bags, one for each of the brothers, and a loaf of fresh bread. The entire purchase cost me about the same as my morning cappuccino does, when you count in the tip for the car guard.
I’ve heard all the arguments. Not to encourage street kids. But when a young boy is standing in front of me asking for one naartjie, a piece of fruit which probably cost 50c by itself, don’t you dare tell me to say no.
We live in a cruel world. We are surrounded by equal amounts of beauty and pain. The best we can do is try to overshadow that pain with kindness. With goodness.
Giving a child a naartjie made almost no difference to my day. To him, it might have made the world of difference. And maybe it didn’t, maybe I was scammed. But quite frankly I don’t care. If I never help out someone else on the chance they may be taking me for a ride, I may miss out on an opportunity to truly help someone in need.
Random acts of kindness. The world needs more. South Africa needs more. So I hereby pledge to do these things more often:
- Buy fruit and bread for the homeless kids hanging around my Spar.
- On hot days, buy cold drinks for the car guards and the security guards who patrol our streets.
- On cold days, bring them tea.
- Surprise random people with cupcakes. Everyone likes cupcakes.
- Bring my mom flowers.
- If I spot someone who looks likes they might need a compliment, give them one.
- Talk to my grandparents more often.
- Spend more time with my little cousin. He’s fifteen now, I could be a good role model.
- Smile at cashiers and wish them a happy day.
- Appreciate people more. All people.