The idea is both simple and more or less selfless, and revolves around a single core concept: getting things for free is awesome. While I have no control over whether I get stuff for free – short of taking up shoplifting as a hobby, and even then the only freebie I get is likely to be a lift in a shiny police car – I can control whether other people receive free gifts.
So I do. Every so often, I log on to Amazon and type a name into the Wish List search. I scroll down the list and pick someone at random – before buying them an item that they’ve been wanting but never got around to buying.
While it sounds a little stalkerish, it’s pretty safe for all concerned: I never see the person’s address – beyond a rough idea of where in the country they are – and unless I choose to identify myself in the gift message options they never know who I am either. Somebody, somewhere, receives a book, CD, DVD, or game randomly and without cost to themselves – guaranteed to put a smile on their face for the day.
I never spend much – no more than £5 or £10 – and despite the fact that I’ll never see the person’s face as they open the parcel I get a surprising amount of enjoyment from the simple act of altruism.
Which is why I’ve written this blog post: starting now, each Wish List gift I send out will have a short URL in the gift message – http://wp.me/pkhQL-85 – which points them towards this page. When a person receives the gift, hopefully they’ll be curious enough to visit and read about why they’ve received a parcel out of the blue – and I hope that a non-zero percentage of those will consider brightening someone else’s day with a purchase of their own, pointing that person to this page and starting the free-gift-happiness-ball rolling.
So, if you’ve received a parcel with an unexpected present in it pointing you towards this site – and if it brightened up your day at all – think about doing the same for another lucky soul. If you do, include the URL of this page in the gift message just as it was included in yours – and if not, never mind. Enjoy your gift, and know that somebody somewhere wanted to make a stranger’s day that little bit happier.