Friday, September 08, 2006

Just Because You Can

I was woken up this morning by the dulcet tones of Christian O'Connell on Virgin Radio's Breakfast Show. A caller had phoned in because he is due to get married at the weekend and his honeymoon plans had collapsed at the last minute.

Within an hour of the story going out over the airwaves, the groom had 11 offers of holiday accommodation, ranging from a caravan in Bognor Regis to holiday homes in Australia, New Zealand, Cyprus and Turkey. Although some people offered a discount on their normal price, increasingly more and more offers were free of any cost. All the couple had to do was arrange their flights.

What leads people to offer accommodation in their holiday homes completely free to total strangers? In many cases, these are private homes used just by family or close friends.

I'm not sure that I can answer that question easily. It would be easier to understand if the radio station was giving name checks to the people making the offers and they were commercial holiday homes. But there was no free advertising on offer.

Sometimes the benefit of doing something is much less tangible than we might imagine. The feelgood factor of helping a pair of newly weds enjoy their honeymoon was clearly a driving force behind many of the offers.

We are often told that it is better to give than receive. If that wasn't the case, could something like this happen? We don't always have to look to see what's in it for us, just do something because we can.

And if everyone starts acting in the same way, then one day we might be on the end of a stranger helping us, just because they can.

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