An Ice Cream Man Pulled Up With A Broken, Beat-Up Cooler. What Happened Next Is Amazing

June 27, 2016

I witnessed an act of humble generosity that has changed the way I see generosity. I haven't been able to stop thinking about something so simple, yet amazing, that happened yesterday.

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We were at the beach and a dude was walking over the sand with a cooler and a little bell, saying "ice cream, ice cream." He didn't have one of those fancy ice-cream coolers with the pictures of the Drumsticks and Push Pops all over it, it was a cooler you'd get from the discount bin at Walmart; the thing was worn out, had a broken handle, didn't roll well, just in bad shape. He's cruising around trying to make a buck selling ice cream. A group of loud gentlemen next to us take him up on his offer and buy a few ice creams and send him on his way. A few minutes later, the ice cream man comes around again and the loud gentlemen next to us call him over. They say "Hey man, we want to trade you our cooler, we just got it, it's brand new! Yours is a mess, it's got a broken handle, and we want it! Want to trade?" The ice cream man was all about it and the loud gentlemen began to unpack their cooler, put all the ice creams into it, and give their brand new cooler to the ice cream man. The ice cream man was all smiles, gave the loud gentlemen a bunch of handshakes and hugs, and was the happiest guy around. Turns out the ice cream man is a landscaper during the week and drives a couple hours every weekend to the beach to try and make some extra bucks selling ice cream to support his family. And now he was the owner of a brand new cooler. And was stoked. After the ice cream man left, the loud gentlemen packed all their stuff into the ice cream man's beat up cooler, closed it up, and put it right where their other cooler was, proceeding to use it the rest of the day, as if it was theirs to begin with.

Watching this all unfold was beautiful. Here's why:

1. The ice cream man was clearly dedicated to his family to the point where he was doing whatever it took to provide. He was out there, in the heat, with his broken cooler, making it happen, not for him, but for his family. Major respect right there, that's huge. He wasn't relying on people's pity, he wasn't begging for spare change, he was out there hustling.

2. The loud gentlemen didn't give him money, they didn't treat him like a lesser person, they took him in like a brother and TRADED their cooler for his. It's a different story if they bought him a cooler out of good will or they gave him money for a new cooler. Instead, they very simply noticed they the ice cream man could use their new cooler more than they could and a broken down cooler would suit them just fine. So they traded him. They didn't go out of their way, they didn't make a big deal out of it, they say right there in their beach chairs and made the trade happen. It was awesome. And so simple. So many people it seems are generous because they want to be noticed as being generous. Or they do it because they want to feel good about themselves, not really actually caring about the person they are being generous towards. I honestly believe these loud gentlemen saw that their brother could use a new cooler so it only made sense to give it to him. Done deal. Amazing. The golden rule in action.

There's so many lessons to learn from this experience, but I think what strikes me the most is that small acts of humble generosity can go a looooooong way. And you don't even have to sacrifice a lot. You don't have to shell out a ton of money, you don't have to give away half your warddrobe, you don't have to go out international trips and volunteer with worldwide organizations. It can be a simple as trading a new cooler for an old cooler. It can be as simple as having a conversation with an ice cream man, hearing about what he's doing, encouraging him, and empowering him. Good job, loud gentlemen, I hope your worn out cooler serves you mighty well. And ice cream man, I hope your new cooler helps you provide more for your family that you could ever dream.

Look for someone who you can help in a very specific and poignant way. Make someone's joy go through the roof because you cared enough to really see what they really needed. It doesn't have to be big to have a big impact, it can be incredibly small, but because you were intentional, it can have a huge impact.


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