The sad fact is that I will never ever pay the toll of the car behind me. It won't be bitchery or cheapness that keeps me from doing this small good deed - it's the fact that it's a cliche. It's the only example people ever give of a random act of kindness (a phrase which also grates), which has always pissed me off, because: really? That's the only gesture anybody can think of, to express giving a stranger a kind little surprise? I hate it so much that if anybody ever pays my toll, I will probably cringe.
But here is something that's exactly right. Use Jonathan Stark's gift card at any Starbucks to get a free coffee, or more importantly, to give one to a stranger. I did it, and I can't tell you how thrilled I was at the thought of giving someone, somewhere, a moment of "holy shit it worked!" What a beautiful use of connectivity.
Interestingly, though it's clearly not a game, it gives me a similar feeling of "this is fun and I love it." It has co-op, the sense of being part of something epic, and tangible proof of one's contributions (via the card's own twitter feed, which shows credits and debits in almost-real time). It's funny how giving just a few dollars instantly made me feel involved and protective of this project. I want it to succeed, although I don't know exactly how I'd measure that, other than sheer number of participants. Maybe I just want it to change the mind of one jaded fucker. Maybe it can.