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Giving $100 to a Random Stranger

Giving $100 to a Random Stranger


Giving and receiving seem to be deeply connected. If you give a compliment, money, attention, or something else you always get something in return. For many years I had the ambition to be able to give in a totally unselfish way but doing so is not easy. In one of my attempts, I placed myself in an open square in a busy city. When a young woman passed me, I took out a hundred dollars from my pocket.

“Hold this!” I said, thrusting the bill into her hand. “It’s for you!”

“What on earth!?” she exclaimed, looking like she was about to throw the money into the air. “What am I going to do with it?”

“I don’t know,” I said, “it’s none of my business how you spend your money.”

“Are you a counterfeiter?” she asked, narrowing her eyes as she squinted at the bill.

“No,” I said. “It’s real.”

“What do you expect in return?”

“Nothing,” I said and turned to leave.

“Whoa!” she exclaimed. “Come back here!”

A glance over my shoulder revealed that she was following me.

“STOP!” she shouted, while I was trying to navigate as fast as I could among the people in a densely packed pedestrian street. Suddenly a huge muscular guy ran out of a shop and blocked my way while giving me an evil eye.

“What did he steal?” the big guy asked as my victim approached.

“Nothing,” she said while getting her breath back, “but he suddenly gave me a hundred dollars.”

For a moment they both stared at me creating an awkward silence.

“You see…” I said. “I am trying to learn to give without expecting anything in return.”

“I don’t want to be mixed up in anything,” said the woman and thrust the money into my hand before hurrying away.

On the way home I realized that my experiment would have failed no matter the outcome. If the woman had taken the money I would still have received the ability to let go of my ego. Seen in this perspective I had to accept that giving away money to a random stranger was in fact not unselfish at all.

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