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Charming man
Wednesday 20th June 2012, St Pancras, London.
I was bursting with excitement. I'd decided to do another London 'blitz' and was about to give away 10k in one day. The huge bundles of cash felt good in my rucksack. I'd put in a bit of preparation, too. The previous day I'd left a Wearelucky invite with the concierge at St Pancras Hotel and instructed him to hand it to the first person who claimed to be Mr or Mrs Lucky. I'd also left an invite with the zookeeper at London Zoo but I've yet to hear back from him.
After that I'd popped into the maternity department of University College London Hospitals, where I'd recently had some wonderful news regarding my unborn baby. We'd been told by another doctor that our baby was very poorly and would be lucky to live longer than a week, but – miraculously! – the good people at UCLH were able to tell us that there had been a misdiagnosis and our baby was in perfect health! Incredible relief and pure joy washed over us and now it's hard to remember just how devastated we were feeling. So on my return to the scene of such elation and good fortune, I left an invitation with the receptionist and asked her to give it to the next nurse she saw. Now, I don’t know what it is about nurses but I still haven't heard back from these guys either.
The next morning I met with a couple of friends at St Pancras Hotel and checked that the concierge was still holding the invite. I then tweeted a photo of the concierge sign on the reception desk and sat back to run through the itinerary for the day. There was no way that anyone was going to find us from that pic. It could be anywhere, right?
Wrong. I'd severely underestimated out Twitter followers, because less than 20 minutes later, Edward called my mobile and claimed that he had the invite in his hands. I didn’t believe him. How the fuck had he got it from that photo? Well, it turned out that he'd zoomed in on the pic and spotted a faint reflection of the glass roof, which he'd then matched to the hotel's website. Skills! Not only was he a smart kid, but he was polite and humble and when I handed him the cash he couldn't stop shaking and bursting into spontaneous laughter. It was a great first encounter and as I took some pics Edward talked about his intention to support a charity helping victims of domestic violence and revealed some fantastic ideas for microloans. We finished up and Edward thanked me for the hundredth time, laughed again and jogged back to work. The day was up and running. Wonderful!
Questions & Answers
1. What were your first thoughts and feelings when propositioned with Wearelucky?
I read about it and thought it seemed cool. Then when I thought I had worked out the clue, I almost didn't go as I thought somebody else would have got there. Then I decided to go for it. If I am honest, as I ran I was thinking what I would spend the money on and I was split between inwardly focused things and spending it on other people. When I found the card, I was quite calm. Then when I spoke to you on the phone, it sort of hit me, and it was all a bit weird. I was really happy, but also suddenly very aware that I couldn't spend the money on myself. It just didn't feel like it would be the right thing to do. It was a strange happiness, overwhelming in a way.
2. What have you decided to do with the money?
Donate to Refuge, a charity close to my own heart. Some is going on a treat of some sort for my Mum. She was quite reluctant to have any of it, which only reinforces my view that she deserves it. Some is being used to fund microloans, and will keep being reused for this purpose. This way, I can increase the impact of the money and allow it to have a greater effect in the long run. The idea of facilitation and responsibility inherent within them also seems to fit well with the ethos of the project. It's helping random people to do something good. It's also almost an experiment to see which type of giving feels the best.
3. Is it important to get something back?
It's nice. It forms a feedback loop that starts to associate that feeling with giving which is more likely to lead to more giving. A lack of response can leave you feeling a bit empty, so you have to create your own response. How likely you are to get anything back (be it a feeling or something else) shouldn't factor into your decision to give, but I do think it is hard to remove from the process entirely.
4. Did you feel lucky or responsible?
Lucky at first, then responsible. It doesn't really feel like the money is mine, more that I am looking after it.
5. How did the people close to you react when you told them about taking part in Wearelucky?
There were lots of jokes about how the 'drinks were on me'. I found it hard to talk to people about really. Excitement has been the main theme. I asked a lot of people what they would do it with, and it was interesting to see the responses. People have been very supportive of my ideas. Going back to work straight after was odd. It's fun watching it peculate through your friends and people you know.
6. What questions would you like to ask Wearelucky?
Do you ever feel regret giving somebody the money? Do you feel people who 'win' it like I did are less deserving that those specifically chosen for their actions, or has it worked out that they have generally been nice people?