Being the recipient of random human kindness makes one feel shiny, special
They say fortune favours the brave. But what if it favours those who are nice to check-in staff, happen to encounter a hospitality worker in a good mood or are canny enough to hit a market just before it closes?
Sometimes good things do, in fact, come for free. And if there is one thing better than a treat, it is an unexpected one. Finding a fiver in an old jacket pocket feels like winning the lottery. Being the recipient of random human kindness somehow makes one feel shiny, special. Now, I don’t wish to sully the wholesome tone by bringing commerce into this, but… isn’t it the best to get a free upgrade, discount or no-strings-attached offer?
These things can happen purely out of luck. An algorithm plucks you from an electronic list of subscribers to get a year’s worth of magazines free. But other times our behaviour has a role. Staff at Pret, for instance, are told to give away a certain number of items to customers every week as part of official policy and I have been the beneficiary on many occasions. Free flat whites, free cookies – once even encouragement to take a cookie I hadn’t ordered but must have been looking at longingly. Bananas waved away. An extra croissant popped into the bag.
I would like to think that my sparkly, charming personality has had a hand in this; my engaging repartee. But it may possibly be just to stop me talking and get me out of the shop as quickly as possible.
One of the greatest gifts in life is a sea view. I do not understand, therefore, how hotel receptionists keep their egos in control. I would be drunk with power if I had this ability; to bestow something that undoubtedly makes a holiday circa 37% better than if the room you happened to be lumped with faced the laundry, for instance.
I have never had the holy grail of a flight upgrade. But I have often been switched to seats with extra leg room on planes and in posh cinemas. I have a jumper that a vintage clothes stallholder once, with a shrug of the shoulders, gave me for free when I was buying another item. It turned out I liked the freebie better than the purchase.
I don’t think it is saving money that makes these freebies so happy-making, but the warm feeling you get knowing that someone cares enough, or is generous enough, to want to make your day a little better. Though, obviously, a 70% discount on a laptop is also not to be sniffed at, I’ll tell you that for free.