Hump Day: There’s no greater pleasure than bestowing an unexpected gift

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

Recently, I started giving away books and videos in my weekly newsletter. I started this to drum up more interest and to give something back to subscribers. But a little thing happened. Instead of resenting giving away gifts, I grew to really love it – even after the first week or two. I feel like I’m addicted to it now.

It hasn’t been long, but now I’m finding myself looking at the New York Times bestseller list to see what business and personal development books are the most popular. I’ll also be giving away concert tickets and CDs soon.

Colleagues are starting to ask if they can give away their wares – such as a local musician who asked if I’d like to give away his CD. Well, of course I don’t mind. It’s a win-win situation. I get to give away something to my readers and he gets some exposure to a few hundred people. There’s nothing wrong with that. And who knows? Maybe the person who wins his CD will play it for others who’ll fall in love with his talent and buy his music.

Although I’m certainly not comparing myself to talk show hosts Oprah Winfrey or Ellen DeGeneres, I’ve heard them both talk about how giving to others is addictive. I thought it was a bit exaggerated, but then I gave away a few things and saw how addicting it could get. It’s not about giving the stuff away, it’s about making other people happy. There are certainly worse addictions to have, I dare say.

I’m not sure if I’m ever going to find myself standing in front of an audience and yelling, “You get a car! And you get a car! And you get a car!” like Oprah famously did a few years ago on her show when she filled her audience with teachers and surprised them at the end of the show by giving each one of them a new car. At this point, I’m more along the lines of “And you get a $10 book! And you get a free CD! And you get a free pair of concert tickets!” But hey, a gift’s a gift, right?

A friend of mine used to have a spooky ability to win radio prizes. You know when they’d announce they’d give away a prize to the third caller? Well, he was the third (or whatever number) caller too many times to count. He could have had a warehouse filled with gifts.

The only time I remember winning one of those Be the third caller! prizes was back in the early 1980s when I was home on a Friday night listening to the radio. The prize that night was pretty good, actually: a gold-plated ladies’ watch worth more than $100. Lo and behold, I won it and gave it to my mother as a gift. She wore it for years.

I suppose I could have sold it, but why would I sell it if I could give it away and make someone else happy? A couple of weekends ago, I won an Apple iPad Mini at a Rotary event to raise money for an agricultural project in Haiti. I was thrilled to win and even posted a photo of me grinning ear to ear posing with my new toy.

But then I came to my senses. I’d just purchased a new tablet. I already have a smartphone. And I have a computer, too. What more do I need? I started to debate what I would do with it. A few people offered to buy it. Others suggested I just post an ad online to sell it. No, I couldn’t do that. I won it at a charity event. It didn’t feel right to sell it.

So, I’ve decided to pay it forward. I’m about to reach a milestone in the number of newsletter subscribers I have, so I’ll probably end up giving way the iPad Mini in a contest. Someone else out there can most likely use it – someone who doesn’t already have a tablet or someone who wants to give it as a gift to someone who can really use it. Trust me, I love my gadgets, but there’s only so much a person can own – or use.

I’m a terrible book hoarder. I buy books that never get read, let alone even cracked open. Now that I have an e-reader, those days are gone. Even if I don’t read a book that I buy, it will be in digital format. And although digital clutter is still clutter, it doesn’t compare to the three piles of books that are literally teetering on my nightstand. If someone so much as sneezes down the street, they’ll topple over and cause untold human casualties. I hope the authorities are stocked up on body bags.

So now, I can still enjoy buying a book every now and then – but I’ll just give it away! See, my book-hoarding tendencies are being put to good use. I might as well make others happy rather than get my temporary “book high” only to see the poor thing sit on a bookshelf (if it ever makes it to a bookshelf) and gather dust for five years before I go on one of my twice-per-decade clutter purges. (I’m due for another one.)

I think I’ll coin a new term: benevolent hoarding. You enjoy buying something. Now pass that pleasure along to someone else by giving away all that stuff. The late Anne Frank is quoted as having said, “No one has ever become poor by giving.” It’s a great quote – and one I believe in wholeheartedly.

Giving away a book or a CD here and there probably won’t change the world, but if it brings a smile to someone’s face, there’s nothing wrong with that. Maybe that CD or concert will soothe the winner’s soul and offer some respite from their worries. Maybe the personal development or business book they win will give them a great idea that will make them millions or help them overcome a long-standing hurt.

You never know how your gift will affect people. Maybe that’s the thrill!

2 Responses to Hump Day: There’s no greater pleasure than bestowing an unexpected gift

  1. I think I’d also like to be a benevolent hoarder! I had a giggle at “You get a car! And you get a car!” Oh Oprah. The woman does no wrong.