Oh I do hope it’s true. The press have been fooled by things like this before, see the Monkeyman of Tunbridge Wells for example. Yet the idea of a random stranger running round doing acts of kindness/bravery appeals to us all. For one it is nice news for once, holds a degree of mystery, and helps demonstrate that humans aren’t always as bad as we like to make out. Of course, it may be a practical joke, although in itself this wouldn’t be too bad. Practical jokes, of the innocent and fun variety, are themselves quite entertaining especially when the world press is involved. Of course in some cases this can backfire, when Google announced the launch of Gmail on April 1st last year, many assumed it an elaborate hoax, 1 gigabyte of space was vastly more than anyone else was offering. Of course, this was partially aided by Google’s desire to deceive in the past, such as its page about its pigeon powered search engine, and not to mention the request for employees for its new moon base which was released at the same time as the Gmail press release.
The other thing this story made me think about though was Join-me, the accidental cult founded by Danny Wallace. The story is long, complicated, and next to unbelievable, but the outcome is this: all cult members must strive to commit one random act of kindness every Friday. Now, I’m a joinee, (a member) a very poor joinee, one who generally forgets. So as a result I hadn’t committed a specific random act of kindness for a while. I’m not trying to imply I’m a mean spirited person, I have still done kind things, they’ve just been not especially random, not specifically associated with my Joinee status and not necessarily on a Friday. Today however I remembered. On a break from work whilst waiting for some bacteria to grow I popped back into town. Whilst there I brought a Double Decker chocolate bar in a newsagent and upon leaving the shop presented it to the first person I saw. (I had to do it outside the shop obviously, otherwise the recipient would probably be forced to pay for it later, I don’t think their story would sound very likely. Similarly had I wandered too far then the recipient may had reason to suspect that the bar had been ‘doctored’) Although grateful, she seemed slightly un-phased by the fact that a complete stranger had just given a chocolate bar to her; before now I have spent a good minute explaining to a person that yes I really will buy their newspaper for them.
The story also gave me another idea. Should I ever come into lots of money, and am not in immediate financial trouble myself, I should like to invest a good proportion of it in a high interest bank account. The interest from this account can then go to funding behaviour similar to that described in the news article. When too old to carry on I can appoint a successor, and thus the chain will continue. Of course, for all this to work truly effectively it will all have to be anonymous, thus really this entry shouldn’t exist. However I don’t have a lot of money, and don’t expect to any time soon, so all this chatter is probably safe for the time being.