4 Stories of Generosity from Strangers

This year, I was lucky to experience random acts of kindness. And what’s more surprising, it came from strangers — yes, strangers. Or let’s say people I haven’t met before.

These people, whether they realized or not, they have inspired me in their own way and conveyed life-lessons I will forever treasure.

The first story was from the violinist.

1. Violinist for My Engagement

Lisa introduced herself as a manager of an ensemble of classical instrumentalists. But I only need one violinist because I want it simple, and of course, I didn’t have the budget. So she referred her ace violinist, Jojo.

500 PHP ($10) for three songs.” She was surprised. She didn’t know what to say. It was not even close to their standard price. In fact, they are hesitant to play for others who offered them 2,000 PHP ($38).

A wave of embarrassment slapped my face — I’m an idiot, a naive. I didn’t research before taking the leap. That moment, I really wish I could turn back time. Silence.

What happened next was something I didn’t expect. Instead of turning me down, she tried to understand my story and asked more questions, more questions.

So I told her it would be a surprise for my special woman. And I really want this to happen even though I don’t have enough money to cover the talent fee — I wish I had the money, though.

Surprisingly, she agreed with a request of providing lunch for her boy. Of course, yes, yes. It’s my engagement. Thank you Lisa.

Lesson: If you’re an artist, don’t stick to your talent fee. Be flexible. Money, though is important, but honestly it’s not the most important thing — it’s about helping people in need, and somehow, help make their dreams come true. (Also, I should do my research next time.)

2. Here’s Your Taco

I met Salio with his 2 friends to discuss a music project, hoping I could join their band. I remember him paying divided attention because of his little son who keeps running around. It’s hard. I can only imagine.

But what makes him admirable isn’t the way he multitasks, but his ability to read situations.

The moment we part ways, he saw one of his friends bought a taco and ate by himself. He didn’t like it, I guess. So he handed us money to buy everyone tacos.

I can still remember how he laboriously search money all his pockets, only to hand it over to us. He then bid goodbye (yes, we’re hungry, thank you).

Though a little act of generosity, it taught me a valuable lesson. And the best part is, Salio and I has been friends since then. Thanks bro.

Lesson: Observe the people around and try to understand what they need. If you can provide, go make it happen.

3. Generosity of Time

William, a guitar tech, was referred by a music friend whom had experienced William’s genius. I visited his place with my defective guitar and asked him to fix it. Though he looks calm, I know he’s hurrying to finish some of his projects. Did I interrupt him?

He offered water and asked a few important questions. What happened next, something I didn’t expect. The short talk expanded into hours of discussion. It was spontaneous, like a time loop — talking about songwriting process, creativity, how melodies impact people, the struggles of artists, and anything music-based.

What a day. I could not believe.

Lesson: In this age of busyness, everyone tends to be busy — we all have tasks to do, after all. But if you find someone who badly needs help, if you find someone who needs connection, if you find someone struggling, be generous of your time.

After a week, he turned my guitar into a trooper. Thank you Sir William.

4. The iPad Bargain

My growing pile of eBooks made me think I need an iPad or any reliable tab so I can expedite reading them. I can’t afford a new iPad, however, so I began searching for a used one. The go-to place? Olx.com.

Luckily, I found one for 7, 500 PHP ($145), which I negotiated to 6, 800 PHP ($130). Catherine, the seller, agreed. Way to go.

6, 500 PHP ($125),” my wife cheerfully bargained during meetup (yes, she’s a bargain queen). Catherine looked puzzled. It should be 6, 800 PHP, right? But later, she agreed. She told us that the 300 PHP was her gift — it was December, Merry Christmas!

She was so calm and considerate, though I felt quite guilty. I don’t know why.

My wife told me that I should be thankful because of Catherine being considerate. But my inner narratives kept whispering negativity — I didn’t act like a principled man. It was embarrassing. It was disrespectful.

Eventually, I caught myself and moved on. Why not thank the seller for her admirable generosity instead and move on? Why not see it as a lesson and apply it to my own life? Why not learn from the experience and appreciate it?

Whether Catherine realized or not, she taught me a valuable lesson. And I’m grateful for it.

Lesson: Unexpected events are inevitable. If you find yourself in that position, you can either burst out or stay calm.  Be like water. Be considerate. Empathize and move on.

Gratitude

The reason I wanted to share these experiences is for me to practice gratitude — gratitude for everything good or unpleasant (unpleasant things teach us lessons sometimes).

Besides these strangers, of course, I’m grateful for all my family members and friends and my supportive wife who have helped me through thick and thin. You know it’s you when you’re reading this. Thank you.

“Gratitude is when memory is stored in the heart and not in the mind.” — Lionel Hampton

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Jade Panugan

Some interesting questions about life and human behavior: What if there's no money? Why we often feel the urge to prove that we're right and others are wrong? Why we react to things beyond our control? Why we hate? Why it's hard to be content? I don't have all the answers, do you? Let's chat.