LIANE HANSEN, Host:
Reed Sandridge agreed to meet us in the Washington, D.C.'s Chinatown neighborhood on a busy corner above a Metro stop. It wasn't long before he stopped someone on the street and started making his pitch.
REED SANDRIDGE: My name is Reed Sandridge and would love to give you $10 today.
MOLLY M: You must have a lot of money to be able to do that.
SANDRIDGE: What is your name?
M: It's Molly, M-O-L-L-Y.
SANDRIDGE: What are you doing today?
M: I am - should be studying and instead I'm going to go shopping.
SANDRIDGE: So, what do you think you might the $10 for?
M: In all honesty, I'm going to probably use it on Starbucks.
SANDRIDGE: Do you practice any giving in your own? I mean...
M: I did, like, tutoring for a shelter and then Thursdays - well, it's a transitional housing program. And then Thursdays I taught an exercise class for women at a shelter.
SANDRIDGE: Could I take a photo or a quick video of you?
M: (unintelligible). With my bike helmet, my unshowered hair, I don't know.
SANDRIDGE: Oh come on.
HANSEN: While we're waiting for your picture, I'm Liane Hansen from National Public Radio.
M: Oh, hey.
HANSEN: Molly, whatever possessed you to stop when this guy in a pink tie said, can I speak to you for a minute? I mean, what went through your mind first?
M: Well, first, I was like, is he going to ask me for money? Generally, you know, I'm a nice person and I'm pretty social. so...
HANSEN: I know you're going spend your 10 bucks on Starbucks, but will you pay it forward?
M: Oh, definitely, definitely. I believe in that strongly. That whole karma. What comes around goes around, good energy, all that.
HANSEN: Reed, why are you doing this?
SANDRIDGE: Well, I got laid off from my job back in October and I really wanted to concentrate on doing something that would give me an opportunity to interact with my community and maybe inspire others. But when I got laid off and I had this idea, I started thinking can I do this? So, I looked at what's the worst case scenario? In my mind, worst case scenario was one year without work.
HANSEN: Yeah. But you haven't found a job yet, right?
SANDRIDGE: Nope. I'm actually - I'm usually not so dressed up but I'm...
HANSEN: You are. You look quite...
SANDRIDGE: ...I'm going to a job interview so.
HANSEN: Beautiful pink polka dot tie, white shirt, gray suit, you know, you're the perfect model of the job interviewee.
SANDRIDGE: Thank you.
HANSEN: So, what other kinds of people have you given your money away to?
SANDRIDGE: I've given to homeless people, I've given to executives of companies. I gave to the president of a small brewery. I gave to all kinds of people. I think that's what makes it interesting is to actually get a diverse group of individuals.
HANSEN: Has anyone turned you down?
SANDRIDGE: Lots of people have turned me down.
HANSEN: What reasons do they give?
SANDRIDGE: The most common reason is people say that they don't feel that they're deserving. And I always - I didn't want to kind of influence people's decision, but at some point I started telling people if you don't feel that you're deserving, you don't necessarily need to keep it. You could do anything you want with it. And I'm still surprised that I would say most of those people who deny or decline to participate, even after I tell them that, they still choose not to participate. Maybe they just don't have time. I hear a lot of times, I don't want to get involved.
HANSEN: And people worried you want something from them for that 10 bucks and really all you want is their story.
SANDRIDGE: Yes. There was a great woman I approached one day, and I said, can you help me with a project? She goes, I don't have any money, and I said, well, that's great 'cause I'm going to give you $10.
HANSEN: Reed Sandridge, thanks a lot and good luck on your job interview later.
SANDRIDGE: Thank you very much.
HANSEN: You can find a link to Reed's blog by going to our Web site, NPR.org.
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