Because You Are Polite

by Ginger Philbrick

I knew they were out there, those stories of unselfish, anonymous acts of kindness. They are stories that show our actions often go beyond minding our manners and on to anonymous giving of good things.

In a previous column, I solicited tales of your experiences as recipients of those surprising acts. And here is what I was told:

• Several readers had fast food drive-through orders that were paid for by the driver of the car ahead of them, whom they didn’t know.

• One person told of a sub shop order paid for by an elderly man who looked as though he could barely afford his own bill, and who left the store before his stunned beneficiary could thank him.

• A young waiter told me that recently he was working on a very slow night for business. His tips were the lowest ever. At the end of his shift his boss handed him an envelope with his name on it that she had found on the counter. In the envelope was $100 in cash, anonymously given.

• Several people know of a local humanitarian club that over the years has had an anonymous contributor who gives generously whenever a shortfall occurs in the club’s fundraising or building maintenance budgets.

• In a slightly humorous vein, one reader felt she had been mistaken for someone who needed financial assistance when she was searching in her purse for the correct change for her purchase. She reported, “I tried to tell them [the ladies who were insistent on providing the balance] that I’d prefer it if they used their money for someone who needed it more than I do. But it didn’t change anything.” Rather than making the reader feel good, it made her wonder why she must have appeared needy!

There are more accounts, of course. Sometimes when our world seems uncaring, and even mean, it is you and me who have the power to change it for another person with an anonymous act of kindness. At times the act may involve money, but it might be giving physical or emotional support also. According to Aesop, that master of fables who lived a mighty long time ago, the one thing all these deeds have in common is their source, a heart that can rest assured that “no act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”

Ginger Philbrick is the owner of Because You Are Polite LLC. You are invited to email your manners questions to her and she will respond as time and space allow. You may contact her at