Anonymous Good Deeds
I accidentally did an anonymous good deed this week. By accidentally, I mean I ordered some chocolates for my boss online and forgot to put my name on the note. It got me thinking; does it matter that she knows I sent them or is it enough to know she’ll receive them and, hopefully, her stressful week will appear a little less bleak? Here at More Good Deeds we promote good deeds and sending chocolates certainly counts as doing that: I even recorded it in the More Good Deeds app. It was a good deed because I know it will make my boss happy (50% of our conversations have been about chocolate recently). But what about the way it makes me feel? Does that matter?
As soon as I’d ordered the chocolates online I felt a sense of satisfaction. I should quickly explain that my boss is based in Australia and I’m still living in Cambodia so hand-delivering the chocolates was out of the question. So the act of ordering itself made me happy. I know the point of doing good for others is not to make myself happy but it is usually an undeniable perk of these acts of kindness. And, true to form, I felt content with my decision.
It wasn’t until the next day that I realised I hadn’t put my name on the note. Admittedly, the site only allowed a very limited number of characters to be included in the message but my name has four letters in it and we regularly sign off our emails with just our initial; I could definitely have fitted that on. I began to wonder whether she’d know they were from me. Sure, I mentioned our workload in the note but I’m not the only employee. This, coupled with the fact that she’d put out a plea on Facebook for chocolate earlier in the week countless friends could have sent chocolate. Unlikely, but possible. Why would she think they were from me?
I told myself it didn’t matter; that she’d get the chocolates and be happy. That’s what doing good deeds is all about right? Sprinkling little drops of chocolate happiness around the world. Except I realised I did want her to know they were from me, without sounding too self-centred. Much in the same way that you want to watch friends and family open their presents you’ve bought them, I sought a verbal assertion that the chocolates did indeed do their job and brighten a terrible work week.
But they were supposed to be a surprise! I didn’t want to ruin that by mentioning what was on its way to her. I had to stay quiet; it had to remain an anonymous good deed or the surprise would be spoilt. I resigned myself to the fact that I wanted the chocolates to be unexpected more than I wanted to be thanked or otherwise. Anonymous chocolates they were destined to be.
Until the Australian postal system got involved. Ok, so it may have been my fault that I got the address a teeny bit wrong but they ended up being unable to deliver them. I grew up in the tiniest village ever and our postie just left our parcels with neighbours or in our ever-unlocked front porch. Apparently that is not the case in Australia. So I was forced to show my hand and ask my boss for the correct address to have the chocolates resent. I refused to tell her what I was sending but this time when the chocolates were delivered she was sure to know they were from me. The good deed suddenly lost its anonymity even if their chocolate identity remained shrouded in mystery.
The story wasn’t over, however. I received an email today saying the chocolates couldn’t be delivered and that my boss needs to go to the post office to collect them with said order form. Which proudly boast the sender of the parcel to be the name of this chocolate company. Great. Cover blown. And not only that, my boss now has to schlep all the way to her local post office to collect the no-longer-a-surprise-nor-anonymous chocolates.
So I’ve been left having performed a not anonymous gesture which has forced my boss to go out of her way to even enjoy it. Was that a good deed or just an inconvenience? I’d like to think the good intentions will be appreciated, along with the chocolates, even if I did add a chore to my boss’ already busy week. Maybe I’ll think through my anonymous good deeds a little more thoroughly in the future. And never rely on the Australian postal system ever again …