In the summer of 1984, I was still looking for my first job since leaving school two years earlier. Money was exceptionally tight.
One evening, the door knocked. I opened it to find four of my mates that I played football with. They asked if I would consider an offer. They had decided to go on holiday together, and had popped into the travel agents (remember this is well before the internet). They had found a week in September that suited, and it had a special deal attached: book for four and another goes free.
The sensible thing would be to look for a fifth traveller to reduce the cost for all. Sense, though, didn’t come into it, but sentiment did. Their offer was for me to be that fifth free holidaymaker. There was no debate, other than to say yes or no – the cost was irrelevant, other than finding a bit of spending money.
This was a selfless, no strings attached gesture.
So, that September the five of us went to Majorca, where sunburn, alcohol, a near drowning, a brief run in with the local police, a watermelon dropped from the seventh floor to see how big a splodge it would make, a row with the hotel management and a dodgy flight on a dilapidated Aeroflot plane failed to put a damper on seven terrific days.
I will never forget the generosity these fellas bestowed upon me. It wasn’t the financial aspect that mattered most, it was the altruistic manner in which it was made.
I often reflect on this when discussing how we can help others who are not as well off financially, physically or emotionally. We can all make a generous offer, whether it is through donating to charity, volunteering, giving advice or support, being kind, or just simply showing an interest in what others are doing.
It doesn’t cost much to be generous, but it can be invaluable.
“Sometimes when we are generous in small, barely detectable ways it can change someone else’s life forever.” Margaret Cho