Pieces of Me

Random Act of Kindness

Sitting in the confines of the City Library, a one day workshop on writing and my mind should have been awash with inspiring creative thoughts; instead all I could think about was hamburgers. I had an all-consuming hamburger craving and every word from the speakers was muffled with my mind screaming for a hamburger. One hour for lunch and I dashed out deep into the basement of one of the CBD’s shopping centres and ordered one hamburger with the lot and a side of fries. Within minutes, my little plate of heaven was handed to me.

The first bite and very quickly my experience became quite ho-hum. The burger wasn’t great. Disappointed and worse still, I didn’t have time for an alternative. I pulled out my phone to be distracted by my twitter feed as I kept eating what was now my lunch, but certainly not my expectation. On my second bite, a middle-aged man walked past me. He was pale, dressed in a light pair of tracksuit pants and a t-shirt, which seemed strange on such a cold Melbourne day. He started to rummage through the bin behind me. Silently, he was pulling out scraps of food and placing them in a ripped brown paper bag. I put my hamburger down and couldn’t stop watching. He sat down and ate the few scraps he had rummaged. Now my lunch tasted even worse.


“Excuse me Sir, I saw you looking for food, so I bought you a pizza.”
I turned around to see a tall, poised woman, in her smart business suit, handing over a cardboard pizza box to the man. She was sharp and concise. As soon as she handed him the pizza, she turned on her heel, stepped onto the escalator and was gone. There was no exchange of thank you, no exchange of any more words at all.

I was dumbfounded and felt incredibly overwhelmed. With my phone ready to tweet out the good deed I had just witnessed, I was stopped again.
“She must be doing an online thing,” said one woman.
“She is not going to solve his problems with one pizza,” replied the other.

I put down my phone. I did a quick look around to make sure there were no hidden cameras appearing out of nowhere; surely this was some sort of reality prank show?

But there were no cameras. Instead, the conversation was between two women who were sitting in front of me, sharing their lunch break. Like ferocious seagulls, these women picked at the motives of the business woman, deplored her actions and rolled their eyes at her character. Within minutes they tore down any integrity and compassion that this random act of kindness may have had. I was speechless and now had completely lost my appetite.

The women left and my own lunch break was quickly ending. As I stood up, I saw the man again. He was still looking for food. I looked down at my plate. I had three-quarters of a hamburger and most of my fries left over. My conscience was turning over on itself. I felt bad asking the man if he wanted my left overs. I don’t know why, but I did. The best I could do was to not throw out my lunch and leave my plate there. At the top of the escalator I turned back and there was the man, eating my ho-hum hamburger and fries.

For the rest of the day I kept wondering if society has completely lost its sense of humanity. Buying a hot lunch for a person in need is inherently good; not debateable nor deplorable. Whether that moment of kindness solves the person’s problems or not is irrelevant. Too often we act as the seagulls, more often we should act out of kindness.

Would you buy a stranger lunch?

  • Sophie Allen

    I would yes. And Coder aswell has often handed over money to a person who is obviously struggling with life. I try to avoid those situations though if I have the kids with me, because that would not be a great example for stranger danger. Though a great example of compassion… so that’s a hard one!

    • But stranger danger isn’t really all that dangerous- the biggest danger is in the people we know- and an even bigger danger in not teaching our kids to be compassionate.

  • Yes, I think I would. But I would have to think of it first…instead of lost in my own train of thinking. You are so right, that woman’s motives shouldn’t have been questioned.

  • Renee at Mummy, Wife, Me

    People are really something aren’t they?! I can’t believe the reaction of those women to the woman who bought the homeless man lunch. She has gone out of her way to do a good deed. She could have looked the other way like everyone else, she could have given him a few coins, but instead she went and bought him lunch. She used her time, her money. You can be so embarrassed by society sometimes can’t you?!
    I had never thought of buying someone a meal before, I’ve given money, but not gone as far as to buy a meal. I will think about it in the future now.

  • Kathy www.yinyangmother.com

    Yes I think I would do it, but we have get out of our own comfort zone and thoughts to really see the need don’t we. The judgement of the women about the act of kindness is a strong reminder that when we judge others we are judging ourselves – did they see the woman’s compassion and find themselves wanting.

    • I whole heartly agree with you, when we judge other, we are only judging ourselves x

  • bodyandfeetretreat

    I love hearing stories like this – it restores my faith in humanity ! I am very big on random acts of kindness – it is my ‘thing’ right now. I think what you and that lady did are great – looking out for others less fortunate.
    I would rather buy someone a meal than give them money but that is just a personal thing for me. I have paid for some of someone’s groceries when they have got through the till and not had enough money to pay for them all – they were what I considered necessities and not luxuries – there was no way I could let them walk away without them. Years ago, I didn’t have this attitude – I had the attitiude that we should all look after ourselves and if you can’t afford something you don’t get it. I am so grateful that my thinking has changed, along with our financial situation so when I see something that I can change, I am able to do so.
    Have the best day !

  • LydiaCLee

    My friend did that with a muffin – she got a muffin with him (not left overs) and he threw it at her. She got really annoyed with us that we laughed. (But it is funny).

    That aside, I think it’s great that woman did that. Yes you won’t solve his problems, but you might make today less crappy. I got told off for giving money in the street (by a complete stranger) – I don’t get why they care??? (I’m geared up for Thursday, by the way!)

  • Meagan @ ciderinthesun

    I hate that their instant replay was to straight away rip that lady to shreads… if she had wanted the THANK YOUS and the “KUDOS” for what she did she would of stuck around or made a bit more of a scene. What a wonderful human she is.

    I would buy someone lunch and id do like her, hand it over and walk away. This was a very powerful post x

  • Again judgment. Nothing irritates me more. Why can’t a simple act be just that…simple! And even if it is not, who are we to judge others actions?
    I would have bought him a pizza too. x

  • Hmm, thought-provoking post! I have never before bought lunch for a stranger, but I like to think I would, if the opportunity arose. I have given money before to people on the streets but strangely, giving food seems much more personal, although I don’t know why.

  • Twitchy

    Oh wow. A post that sums up the best and the deplorable of human nature in one go- I thank you again Josefa! I wonder if (had I been prepared to leave before those women) I would have commented or asked why they assumed the worst of someone who gives. Forget the eavesdropping- I’d like to think I’d make them think too- but they’d probably just have more bitching to do.

  • MissMandy

    What a lovely story, not of the conversation of the two ladies, but the deed that sparked the conversation in the first place. The world is made up of all sorts of people, there will always be those ladies, always. But we can’t shy away from that. Instead, focus on that lovely deed the woman did. A pizza is a beautiful gesture, because the reality is, it’s not her job to solve his problems anyway.

  • Pip Macdonald

    That’s just so so sad that those women were so quick to judge such a beautiful act of kindness. Question – did he eat the pizza as well as your hamburger?? Ah Josefa of course a gift of food isn’t going to solve his problems – but it sure makes life easier. Shame the burger wasn’t tastier x

  • Beck/Craftypjmum

    How quick some are to judge, it is sad that some people find joy in putting the good in others down. Such a wonderful act of kindness from this lady. This shows that there really is some good left in this world after all.

  • I wonder if they did that because they felt guilty at doing nothing. It sickens me to think that some people have no compassion at all. I would quickly, and willingly buy a stranger lunch.

    • That is true testament to who you are and all that you believe in Jess, I did think of you that lunch break x

  • Liz @ Clover Feet

    A startling reflection of the human condition. I would absolutely buy someone lunch and who cares about her motives she did the right thing.

  • This really makes me think! So sad that the other women watching were so jaded, cynical and negative. I don’t know if I could buy a stranger lunch either …

    Visiting from #TeamIBOT xxx

  • Nee Say

    What horrid women! It really irks me that people automatically assume the worst motives for the kindest acts. And even if they were right & the act of kindness was inspired by some external motivator, she still ACTED in that situation rather than just sitting back and judging.

  • Yes I think I would but having said that I haven;t been in that situation before and what sad women 🙁

  • carmen@musingnmayhem

    Yes I have and would. I am also blunt enough to ask women who seem so righteous what good they have created in the world today. Calmly and pointedly. I wouldn’t care for their answer… just to ask and walk away. x

  • Toni

    People are so judgemental! This is more than likely why less people in society help each other out these days. I cant believe how negative some people can be.

  • Wow. Firstly, I love that the woman bought him a pizza. Random acts of kindness are awesome. As for those women… I just can’t believe it. To rip a good deed to shreds like that? Unbelievable. I would buy someone lunch, although, I do get nervous about whether the receiver will take offense to my doing so. Thanks for sharing this post.

  • It literally hurts to hear of people so jaded that they can’t see the good in front of them. I’ve bought small random things specifically for someone I see in need. The woman giving the pizza- she impacted more than just that one hungry man that day.

  • Loree

    I really do believes. we are losing our humanity – not all of us but there is a large proportion that seems to see life through the eyes of reality show stars. Acts of kindness have now become suspicious in the eyes of many. It’s strange that woud should write about this. I was reading my travel diary this week and came across and entry from when we were in Paris and a policeman told us off for giving money to a beggar. It’s a topsy-turvy world.

  • Leanne Shea Langdown

    I would buy a stranger lunch. And I have (in the USA). Not for a long time though. Perhaps it’s time to start again. Thanks for the reminder!
    Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit

  • Rebecca Thompson

    That really is sad that those women saw it as such. Who cares what the motive was, there was a kindness bestowed on someone else. It may be a tiny gesture or big, it doesn’t matter, it is the act that counts.
    Becc @ Take Charge Now

  • Patricia higginbottom

    Fabulous article….if we could all stop judging what a better world this would be

  • Louisa

    Great post – what a sad reflection on our society, firstly that people have to search bins to eat and secondly that people judge poorly acts of philanthropy. Tried to subscribe but couldn’t seem to???

    • Should be working, maybe need to be on a PC, not mobile? Let me know if you have any more trouble x

  • denise

    why do people put down others who try to help the less fortunate. I think it is because they feel guilty , something like when one is trying to lose weight and your ‘friends’ urge you to ‘just have this one it won’t hurt you’.

  • Saw your post from Rodney Olsen’s blog. I would have been hard-pressed to keep my mouth shut with those two busybodies. So glad you left your uneaten hamburger for that man. The answer? I have and will again.

    • This is so refreshing to hear. Thank you for stopping by and thank you for buying strangers lunch ~ kindness should not be forgotten x

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