I had something completely different planned for this space today, until I saw this particular image being shared on Facebook.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, and the devastation in New Jersey and New York, a lot of photos began circulating across social channels, mostly showing the high flood waters along streets and throughout towns and cities. As I write this, many areas are struggling to regain some semblance of normal, and many areas are without power.
That’s why this particular image stood out for me. It’s one of those random things that some individual decided to do, just to be nice. No agenda, as far as I can tell, and helping people out with what is now a very basic need: recharging cell phones. Our cellphones have become our lifelines; our connection to the world. This small little act is helping people in a big way.
After I shared this picture on Facebook, even though it had probably been shared by countless thousands of others before, I started to see a big reaction. Within minutes, my friends were liking it and sharing it.
Because these little things resonate with us. We love seeing people help other people. It’s refreshing to see something like this in our newsfeeds amidst all the political rancor being tossed around so lightly. As we shared the experience of Sandy online from the protection of our homes, those of us who were relatively unscathed could identify with those who were forced from their homes or lost power.
This picture reminds me of the street corner coffee vendor who I watched refuse payment from an out of town firefighter attending the funeral of one of his fallen brethren in the aftermath of 9/11.
It reminds me of the restaurants that offer free meals to veterans on Veterans’ Day.
It reminds me of the local coffee shop that always has free dog treats available for its customers, as well as a bowl of fresh water alongside their outdoor seating.
Or how some of these businesses went out of their way to not only provide great customer service, but help those in need.
It’s like the give a penny, take a penny cup at many stores, but on a larger scale.
While the image at the top was from a home, it could very easily have been at a business. In fact, we should really see more of that kind of thing from businesses, and not just when there’s a disaster.
Little things like that don’t cost much, and don’t take a lot of effort. Some call it going the extra mile; I call it being thoughtful and doing the right thing. Putting others first. It really doesn’t take much effort to think about what would make the lives of our customers a little easier.
For instance, something as simple as free wi-fi. I’m shocked at the number of businesses where people are forced to wait, and yet they don’t offer free wi-fi. A simple measure that would make me happy, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.
Look around. Find out what tiny, random act or acts you can do to help people out.
Whether its just your customers or even the broader community, how can you help? What are some of the best little things that you’ve seen businesses do to help others?