When’s the last time you did anything for free? Probably just yesterday I hear you say when you washed up or hoovered or worked in the garden. Things we usually do like this for free are still usually for some reward.. we get to live in a clean house, a pretty garden etc.
When I studied psychology I came across the word altruism as a young woman in her early 20s. I hadn’t heard of it before and I still find the idea of whether we actually ever do anything completely altruistically or not an interesting concept. Do we ever do something for free and for no reward?
I thought I was doing so last Sunday. I volunteered to be a marshall for a 10k race. When I realised it was going to be a Sunday morning at 8.30am on bank holiday weekend after a night out in Manchester I was re thinking my offer to volunteer!! However up I got and at 8.40am found myself directing cars on a field wearing a green fluorescent jacket (these jackets have powers.. they make people think you know what you’re doing!) and shortly after this I was in a field next to a pole that said marshall and I waited in the sunny silence for the runners to reach their half way point.
An incredibly short time later the first runner appeared along the canal parallel to my standing point. He had a kilometre or so to get to me.. I watched him enter the field and make his way around the orange markers finally heading towards me where I nervously clapped my hands and muttered well done pointing him on his way to the next marker! As the elite runners made headway the next batch came through ….my marshalling confidence grew as I made some ‘jokes” about beer being available at the next stop and even conducted a mexican wave all by myself. The runners seemed amused thankfully.
So was this me being altruistic?! Was this me giving my time up for nothing in return. As it turns out. Absolutely not.
From the moment I stepped on the field the buzz from the runners was infectious. The excitement oozed into my brain. I met new people and I haven’t been in a situation where so much gratitude was shown for a long time. Certainly not in any paid work! How so many runners managed to say thank you as they ran past in that heat, already tired, I don’t know. But it made me feel good.
So there’s my little story from this week. The best I’ve felt in a long time is volunteering on a sunny hill in North Wales. Working without pay isn’t on the top of most people’s list but the pay on this occasion far outweighed pounds and pence!
Happy Sunday everyone x x x