View Full Version : I've Been RACK'ed

11-15-12, 8:57am
So I was at the grocery store with my daughter yesterday, and this older gentleman approached us and said hello. He was friendly and admiring DD, who was all smiles. Then he handed me a $20 bill and said, "Maybe this will help your shopping go a little easier. Happy holidays."

I was just stunned. I strive to help others but have never had anyone do anything like that for me before. I was overwhelmed by his generosity. While I wouldn't say that I was in desperate "need" of the money, I have had a tough couple of weeks and was in desperate need of some kindness. I just can't express how much it meant to me.

Since he added "Happy holidays" before walking away, I categorized this as a "RACK" (random act of Christmas kindness). It just got me to thinking that it might be fun to brainstorm some RACK ideas here so that we can randomly bless others.

Here are some ideas I had:

1) Do a little something/bring a little treat to service workers (police officers, mail carriers, fire fighters, garbage men, etc.)

2) Bring treats to people working on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day (I plan to bring treats to the nursing station at my Dad's nursing home on Christmas. I know the nurses and CNAs there truly love the patients, but it stinks to work Christmas!)

3) pay for the person behind you in the drive through line at a fast food place

4) leave a gas card at a gas pump (doesn't even have to be much--even $5 or $10 would be a nice surprise for someone)

5) donate name-brand, yummy treats to the food pantry (when I was young and my dad relied heavily on the food pantry, it was mostly just basics, but every once in awhile, there was a rack with Oreos or potato chips on it. We were allowed to choose one thing off that rack, and it meant a lot to us to have a snack or dessert)

Any other ideas? I know there are some great tips for this on Pinterest as well...

11-15-12, 9:34am
Those are all good ideas. I always save so that I can give a small cash gift to the mail carriers and garbage guys. And, I sometimes pay for a small purchase for the person ahead of me at the grocery store, especially if that person is elderly (more than me!) or has small children, but not if they are snarky to the check-out person. I do the same thing at the dollar stores and charity shops.

I mostly shop at Aldi, a market where you have to put a quarter into the grocery cart thing and then get your quarter back when you return the cart. It is only a quarter, so no big deal, but when I pass off my cart to someone going to rent one (is it renting if it is only 25c?) and that person does not have to dig for a coin, it makes me happier than having just saved a few cents on celery.

When I was traveling to Illinois every week I would often pay the toll for the car behind me. Then, one day the toll worker told me that that was a nice idea, but that it slowed the traffic as he had to explain what I had done when the person behind me tried to pay their toll.

I will sometimes pay the overdue fee for a child patron at our Library, but only if it is hovering around the $5 mark where you can no longer borrow books until it is paid.

How would you pay for the person behind you at the fast food drive-through? Would you just give a five-dollar bill and say to apply it to their purchase? I think that I might do this only when the place was not busy at all. I trigger back to the whole paying for someone else's toll fee.

The gas card thing bothers me a little. I would never use one that I found on a pump, but would take it inside the station figuring that the person before me lost it and might come back to look for it.

The $20 was nice, though. I wish that I had that kind of money to share.

11-15-12, 12:43pm
How sweet! One time I was at the grocery store and the lady in front of me didn't have enough money. I paid the difference so she could get everything on her list. It felt good.

I have a couple of workers in my home right now, laying tile. I make them fresh coffee and serve it in pretty mugs and on homemade crocheted coasters. They are so appreciative! I remember how much I cherished my coffee breaks when I was working.

I give a neighbor of mine who's a single mother fruits and vegetables from my garden. She seems to really appreciate it. One time she told me whe was out of cash and needed food the same day I brought some over. She lets me use her horse manure for my compost pile, which really helps my soil.

When I was working as a writer for a magazine, the editor sent me a bonus check for $400. and wrote "Merry Christmas!" in the subject line. I bought a cashmere bathrobe at T.J. Maxx with that money. I've been wearing it every winter for 10 years. I just love it. It seemed so extravagant at the time, but I've never regretted it.

11-15-12, 4:41pm
Great story, and thank you for the ideas Kat!

11-15-12, 6:52pm
What a lovely thread to read!

11-15-12, 7:00pm
My friend bought breakfast (muffins) for all of the people waiting at the Department of Motor Vehicles this morning.....she said they all looked so sad and tired.

I want to figure out something like that too. It's really so easy to change the course of someone's day.

11-15-12, 10:54pm
I was thinking about this thread while doing yoga. I'm going to give the tile guys some homemade cookies tomorrow with their coffee. It's their last day. All they have to do is grout. I remember when I was dancing, I loved it on birthdays when we would have cake at intermission! It just made my night!

11-16-12, 5:38am
Very nice.
There is a red Charger in town that pays for the car behind it's coffee at Tim Hortons. It actually made us feel funny. We asked and the girl said he does this every single day, has nothing to do with you personally. Yet I always forget to return the favor to the other car.

11-16-12, 8:31am
Thanks for sharing, everyone! I love reading about the kind things you have done and the kind things that have been done for you! So inspiring!

Jilly--I shop at Aldi, too, and love your idea of leaving a quarter in the cart. It is a pain when you can't find one or are trying to hold a kid and dig around in your purse. I could see how finding a cart with a quarter already in it would totally make my day! I hadn't thought about someone thinking the gas card was left behind by mistake. I suppose if you wanted to leave one for someone, it would be best to leave a note explaining that it is a gift to be used. As for the drive-through, I have actually done this. There was minivan full of kids behind me in line, and I thought maybe that family could use a little extra money in their pockets. When I pulled up to pay, I just asked the fast food worker if I could pay for the van's order, too. Easy peasy! :-)

awakenedsoul--I love that you are spoiling your tile guys! And that someone's kindness allowed you to splurge on something special for yourself. It got me to thinking we could all give an extra Christmas tip to someone who needs it. I think it would be lovely to leave an extra $20 (or more, if you can afford it) for a waitress or something.

puglogic--I love that idea! Especially since the DMV has a reputation (at least around here) for being a little frustrating in terms of wait times and such.

ctg492--I love it! It would be neat if everyone in a long line of cars returned the favor! :-) Think of how many people would have their days brightened!

11-16-12, 8:35am

Also, found this list online and thought it had lots of good ideas.

Blackdog Lin
11-16-12, 9:08am
What a lovely thread, and many good ideas.

Most years we've had friends, or know of friends-of-friends, living very low on the food chain, and I've mailed anonymous gift certificates to our local grocery store to them. If I do it for the holidays I sign them as being from "Santa". I hate the idea that anyone might not have groceries in the house for the holidays.

11-17-12, 10:16pm
This is indeed a wonderful thread and I'm going to budget a twenty for it. I'm thinking maybe the dude who sells newspapers in the middle of a busy Boston street during rush hour?

11-19-12, 11:12am
I love doing this kind of stuff....haven't done it in a little while. I have taken dollar bills and put them under packages of food, soda bottles, behind ice-cream so that the next person who picks it up will get a little surprise. I have bought coffee for someone and also paid for groceries ($30) for a woman who had gone out to the car to find some money (her card did not go through). I need to do some of this, been feeling a sense of "lacK" and "fear" recently.

11-19-12, 1:40pm
You all have made me think of one family in particular that I know and should drop a gift card in the mail to them. I hope people will report their little RACKs! Nice thread, Kat! :)

11-20-12, 6:37pm
You all have made me think of one family in particular that I know and should drop a gift card in the mail to them. I hope people will report their little RACKs! Nice thread, Kat! :)

IMHE and IMHO, the best ones are anonymous. (no need to post as recognition can sometimes be a bad thing)

11-20-12, 7:09pm
Today I bought a package of nuts for someone who did not have enough cash whilst checking out.

1-28-13, 4:41pm
Many years ago, 1976, I believe, I was working in a department store when a young woman asked me the price of a blouse. She had a job interview & needed to dress up. When I told her the price, she looked very crestfallen, so I found a red pen & marked it down on the spot. No authority to do so, and certainly long before computerized inventory... She bought it, and I sure hope she got that job!

PS - what does RACK stand for?

1-28-13, 5:55pm
After staying home for months after my mom died my dad started venturing out to eat. He goes to one place almost exclusively. Around the first of December somebody picked up his dinner tab. He is still talking about it and trying to figure out who it was. It just floored him.
Years ago there was a coworker who's wife had some serious medical issues and it wasn't a secret that they were in dire straits. He would always turn down offers made in person so I went into the utility company and annonymously paid his overdue utility bill. Another time there were several girls in the office going through hard times. I can't remember how we got to talking about favorite movie stars but everybody named theirs. The next day I had flowers delivered to them from each of their favorite actors. That was fun to watch. I had an elderly neighbor who's yard was getting hard to handle. I know it looked totally crazy but I would get off work at midnight, grab my very quiet push mower and mow her lawn by the light of the moon so she would wake up to a freshly mowed lawn. Service work is hard and often thankless so we like to be generous when tipping and if that person has that "it" personality I go the extra mile to write to the business about them as well. I also like to tip the guys (or gals) at the gas station when the weather is crappy and they have to be outside getting wet and cold.

1-28-13, 7:10pm
I love the lawn mowing. It might look crazy, but wonderful-soul-angel-crazy. I think that I need to find something to do like that in my neighborhood.

I know that this is on the fringe (if even there) of what this thread is about, but it is something I am able to do.

The place that provides my therapy is attached somehow to a small shop that includes a coffee bar. I think that the shop must provide some of the funds to make therapy available to people like me. I began with them when I was homeless last year and they were recently qualified, or whatever it is called, to be able to bill Medicare, and so I am able to continue with my therapist for very little money, of which I really do have very little.

So, in addition to paying what I can, at least every other week I give one of the clerks five dollars or whatever I have to spare to be able to offer a mug of coffee to some of the clients who have even fewer resources than I have right now. I know that this is a tiny thing, tiny picture, tinier impact, but it is important to me to keep volunteering and doing small things like this. In a time of difficulty it has been a way to hold on to my humanity.

1-28-13, 7:35pm
PS - what does RACK stand for?
Random Act of Christmas Kindness

1-28-13, 7:38pm
I also look for ways to do Random Acts of Kindness.
I'm like awakenedsoul in that I leave donuts and coffee and water out for service workers at my house. I also gave a $20 bill as a tip for a $20 birthday pedicure this month.
I gave $20 each to two window/door installers, and a $20 to a painter, who were all here at my house the week before Christmas. I know they're already getting paid for the job, but I believe they were sub-contractors who were driving from a ways away, so I consider that a little gas money.

I'm not rich but a $10 or a $20 to the right person at the right time is a big deal to them.