A few years ago I bought a cute purse at a resale shop. It was sort of blue-jean blue, with gold threads interwoven throughout the fabric. I paid about $10 for it, or maybe $12.
I brought the purse to a gathering of a few friends; and one friend in particular, BrokeGirl, admired it a great deal.
"Here, have it," I said spontaneously, dumping out the contents and handing it to her. "I'll just put my stuff in a plastic bag until I get home." It didn't feel like a big deal to me, but she was touched, which in turn gave me warm fuzzies. As Friend Phoebe figured out, there is no such thing as a selfless good deed:
Phoebe: [on phone] I have found a selfless good deed. I went to the park and let a bee sting me.
Joey Tribbiani: How is that a selfless good deed?
Phoebe: It makes the bee look tough in front of his bee friends. The bee's happy and I am definitely not.
Joey Tribbiani: Uh, Pheebs, you know the bee probably died after it stung you?
Phoebe: [stares blankly] ...Dammit.
The story doesn't end with BrokeGirl. Many months later, BrokeGirl was visiting with our mutual friend Catosa, and Catosa admired the purse. BrokeGirl decided that the well-loved purse should continue her soon-to-be-epic journey, so she dumped out the contents and gave it to Catosa.
Subsequently, Catosa, who lives in Estes Park, Colorado, gave it to C-Rey, who held onto it for several months before giving it to a "darling, sweet woman" from her church, JaMo. At the moment, the Traveling Purse is living happily with JaMo in Denver, Colorado--as far as I know.
I feel sort of proud to be the first donor of the traveling purse. If I had any inclination that the purse would become such a symbol of friendship and generosity, I would have taken a photo of it hanging over BrokeGirl's shoulder--but alas. I had no prescience, no foreknowledge, no psychic abilities.
But if you admire a cute blue fabric purse, and its owner says, here, have it!--please send me a photo, and let me know how long you hang on to it before you feel compelled to give it to another admirer.