Yesterday, John Petersen suggested I do a random act of kindness everyday for October (as part of my #12experiments this year). I responded that I generally do that kind of thing daily and it reminded me of this incident…
I recently went to a dinner with several other founders and a few investors. At some point, I looked down at the floor and noticed the woman sitting next to me had toilet paper stuck to the heel of her shoe.
This, in itself, really isn’t a big deal. We all use the bathroom and whatever social faux pas’ are associated with it are pretty silly. But society has framed this as an OMG-mylifeisover-dreadfully-embarrassing-you'llnevergetadate-moment…
So here I sat wondering what is the right thing to do? Tell her quietly (and awkwardly)?Leave it alone - save myself the awkwardness - and wait for her to find it later? Let someone else point it out?
So what’s the right way to tell them?
The answer: don’t.
Instead of bringing it up, I waited until she wasn’t paying attention (actually while she was talking to the group), and I stepped on the paper myself, dragging it off of her shoe and kicked it under the table. She didn’t notice a thing and I saved myself the awkward moment.
Embarrassing moment avoided. Awkward conversation avoided. Random act of kindness… um… enacted. ;)
Keep your eyes out for opportunities to help others. Maybe it’s the colleague who needs a snack because they’ve been in the zone at their desk for hours. Maybe it’s just giving up your seat on the subway. Maybe it’s saving someone from the “toilet paper on their shoe” moment or something else no one will notice, but just do it and make the world a happier place.