David Bruce: Good Deeds Anecdotes

Zoe Green, a woman who also goes by the online name Pea Green Girl, lives in Bournemouth, England. She writes, “From my perspective, Shelbourne Road is just another long, fairly anonymous Bournemouth street. Nothing really happens here. Other than the occasional social gathering in the corner shop, we go about our daily routines side by side and yet our paths never seem to overlap. I only really know my next door neighbour Paul and his dog Foo. I don’t know who lives opposite, or 2 houses down, which really makes for quite a sad state of affairs. So how can I make a difference? One smile at a time.” On Happy Street Day, she rose early — 5 a.m. — and decorated the street. She wrote, “I don’t intend to change the world, but I know that if you brighten one person’s day they are highly likely to brighten someone else’s. Happy Street Day took place on Monday 15th April 2013. It was my personal mission to bring some unexpected cheer to my fellow Shelbournians, encouraging them only to stop for a moment and talk to one another. This project was about inspiring people. So take my ideas and share them with your community. Go on, spread a little joy.” Pea Green Girl pasted a “Good Morning!” sign on the bridge. She also stuck Post-Its with encouraging messages on a telephone pole, and she put balloons at a bus shelter, post-box, and telephone booth. Anthea Quay of Designtaxi.ocm wrote this about the project: “Green’s little project aimed to inspire people, and it must’ve brightened up someone else’s day—and it was her tiny step to changing the world, one smile at a time. […] If you left your house one morning and walked down the street to find it filled with lovely signs and motifs, [wouldn’t] you feel like nothing could get you down?”

Herman Autrey remembers a good deed that Fats Waller did for a bunch of kids during a theater engagement in Washington D.C. While Fats was taking a break in an alley early in the engagement, a kid approached him and asked to be let in the show free because he had no money. Fats told the kid to come back and bring a bunch of his friends with him. Lots of kids showed up, and Fats treated them to candy and let them in his show free. The owner of the theater was unhappy because the kids were taking up seats for free that other customers could have paid for, but the owner became happy at the next show and all the shows that followed because the kids told their parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles how good Fats was, and the parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles bought tickets to hear Fats for themselves. By the way, Fats Waller was very creative musically, but he did not handle money matters well. Once, he was in a hamburger place with Fletcher Henderson and Fletcher’s musicians. Fats ate nine hamburgers and then discovered that he did not have any money. Fats offered to write nine songs for Fletcher if he would pay for the nine hamburgers that Fats had eaten. Fletcher accepted the offer, and Fats got manuscript paper and quickly wrote nine songs, including “Henderson Stomp,” “Hot Mustard,” “St. Louis Shuffle,” “Variety Stomp,” and Whiteman Stomp.” Fletcher was a good man, and he did more than just pay for the hamburgers—he gave Fats an additional $10 for each song.

In November 2012, Hager Elsayed, a teacher assistant, lost her princess-cut engagement ring at a New York City subway station. When she noticed that the ring was missing, she thought that she had left it at home, but she searched thoroughly and could not find it. That is when she realized that it must have slipped off her finger. She said, “I guessed that since I lost a few pounds, it slipped off.” Her fiancé, Juan Rivera, a fireproofer, had worked many hours of overtime to buy the ring for her. He said, “I was devastated. I was like, ‘I’m still paying for that ring. How could you do that!’” In January, Ms. Elsayed was at the Fort Hamilton Parkway N-train station. She saw the station agent who had been working there when she lost her ring and asked him, “Did anyone by any chance find an engagement ring?” The station agent, Anthony Tiralosi, said that an elderly Asian woman who spoke no English had found the ring and turned it in. Mr. Tiralosi said, “I knew it was an engagement ring because I used to sell jewelry. As soon as I saw it, I knew the ring was worth at least $4,000. It was a gorgeous ring. I said, ‘Gee, whoever lost this must feel sick.’” He added, “I told my kids that night about the ring. I wanted them to know the importance of returning something that didn’t belong to them.” Ms. Elsayed got the ring back after she provided proof that the ring was hers—including photographs and a proof of purchase from her fiancé. She is grateful to the anonymous Chinese woman who found and turned in the ring. She said, “The whole moral of the story is there are still good people out there.”

People sometimes write Ana Samways, author of the always entertaining column Sideswipe that appears almost daily in the New Zealand Herald. For example, Adrian wrote this about a good deed performed by the Ponsonby Fire Station: “I’m part of the Big Brother programme and my little brother Carlo and I were out for a walk along Ponsonby Rd when he saw some firefighters sitting in the fire truck. We stood there for a minute in case the fire truck was about to race off and the men on duty were nice enough to roll up the door and invite Carlo in to sit in the fire truck and tell us a bit about the station. Carlo was really stoked with it and even got a little goodie bag which he was excited to take home and rip into. It was an extremely nice thing to do.” Ponsonby is an inner-city suburb of Auckland City, New Zealand.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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