Well, we did it. I'd like to say it was completely fulfilling experience that filled us all with joy... but... alas that is not entirely the case. This whole idea, this giving to give (unexpected joy) and not giving to receive (acknowledgement, validation... big or small, thanks) is not necessarily easy. I entered this knowing that. Knowing that some people will be grateful later. Not everyone can process what is happening, and respond appropriately even if they can, in the seconds that our paths cross in the aisles of Target (or elsewhere). I knew that. I did. But, I'm big enough to admit that it was still really disappointing when it played out that way. This exercise might be less about receiving joy through spreading joy, as it is about being humble. Accepting the truth about giving to give and really not giving to receive.
So we started out our mission at our familiar stomping grounds... I knew there would be lots of different people to chose from, and that at Target $5 can be used in about a million ways, from frivolous to necessary.
We went in and got our gift card (and envelope... more on that later... it was a mistake). I had written this little note on a sticky pad to put on the gift card (hence the use of an envelope) to give a little explanation.
I had envisioned this as a hand off type deal. I didn't want to count on having the time or interest (on their part) of being able to explain myself. (I do think this was a good idea).
So, we started scanning our options. This immediately became trying on me. There is no way to do this without starting to fall back on *who is deserving* type categorization. And this is not supposed to be about that. Everyone is deserving of this. So the next shopper I saw was this man (this is taken, oddly, after the fact when he was running back from checkout to price check or exchange something). He had a cart FULL of bed linens. So, I thought... he's spending a lot on necessities he'll probably appreciate it.
When we were next to each other I just handed the envelope over and said "This is for you." He took it and said without pausing "Oh. Thanks." And kept going. I can't write out his tone, but it was surprising.... because... he wasn't surprised. He sounded both like this happened every day to him, and that he expected it.
Well, that was a HUGE bubble burster.
I walked away not knowing if he even realized it was a gift card, or knew to open it before he checked out. I think, he may have accepted it in the way a polite person accepts something they don't really want... strange coupon, religious pamphlet, etc.
And I think my presentation kind of lent toward that assumption. I do hope he eventually opened it, and realized what it was (it was a gift card envelope for crying out loud!... although who knows what I might have put in it).
#1 It might be best to present to someone who is actively shopping. Someone with a cart full of stuff on the way to checkout... is ready to go... maybe in a hurry... and more likely not to want to engage.
#2 NO ENVELOPES! Really, I do think that was a big mistake, because it just put that barrier up that made it impossible for someone to recognize what they're getting. These transactions can be very fast, and while I don't need an appropriate appreciative response... I do want to be sure they know it's money and not something to toss! Next time I'm just sticking my sticky on the back side of the actual gift card and handing it over gift card UP!
#3 Giving something unexpected... means you are surprising people... not everyone reacts appropriately when caught off guard. That is part of it.
#4 Wanting to give to give is not the same as wanting to give to get tons of adoration for what a selfless, thoughtful, giving person you are in return. Even if deep deep down in the pit of you... or who am I kidding? right there on the damn surface... that's what you'd really like... and what would make you feel a hell of a lot more joyful. The truth is a hard pill to swallow, my friends.
#5 Next time choose a teenage girl... they are WAY more chatty!