It didn't feel quite right, but I did it anyway. My reasoning?
- The label told me to take it.
- It was very exposed on top of the pillar box.
- The sun was beating down and if no one took it soon it would wilt and no one would enjoy it.
And what was it? This...
And even an old cynic like me has gone all soft over it. A quick search of the NAFAS website reveals that the day I picked it up was National Flower Arranging Day; members of the National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies (and others) left posies and bouquets in prominent places, with the invitation to take home and enjoy. It's been happening for a few years now. Obviously it's a marketing move - the label includes the invite to flower-lovers to join the local club. But what the heck - it still made me feel good.
It did make me wonder, though. Why did I hesitate?
- Well, I have a garden, with flowers (though few make it into the house).
- Didn't someone else 'deserve' it more?
- I already know about the group and am not likely to join in the near future.
- Was I being watched...?
Actually I wasn't. The woman leaning against the nearby wall, apparently looking at her phone and whom I initially assumed to be undercover surveillance (do I sound paranoid?), turned out to be my lovely neighbour who really was looking at her phone while she waited for the bakery to produce its oh-so-desirable brownies. That was the clincher. No one looked poised to post a video of me on Facebook.
But how would you have felt? There's something very odd about taking something for nothing. Collecting something from someone on Freecycle without giving anything in return makes me feel very strange. It feels all the odder when there's no one there to accept something from, as with the posy. Is it upbringing, having it drummed into us as children that we shouldn't touch, that it's not ours? Or is there something hard-wired into us that feels better for a mutual exchange?
I favour the latter. I once knew healers who were adamant that some sort of exchange should take place when a service was offered because 1) people didn't value what was given for free; and 2) it created an inequality in energy between the two parties, which I would translate as a lack of acknowledgement or appreciation which never makes anyone feel good.
So, you'll have spotted that I managed to swallow my inhibitions...
...and it was partly because the flowers were wilting in the sun, but also because of the accompanying request. The label invites comments and pictures on the NAFAS Facebook page. Once this is posted I'll be off to do as asked as my way of saying thank you. There's also the Lonely Bouquet website where you can leave details of any bouquets left/seen/picked up and they try to match donor with recipient, and you can always search for #nafasthelonelybouquet on Twitter.
All rather heart-warming.
And yes, a great publicity stunt.