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Free hugs!

Posted by travelgirl on Jan 29, 2008 12:36:43 AM

I saw something either very refreshing or extremely scary yesterday; a man with a sign who was giving and not asking to receive. People are so used to seeing signs asking for money or food that many times they will just ignore and pass by the person holding the sign without even reading its contents. Lately I have actually stopped to read some of the signs only to find that they are not all asking for money. There seems to be a new trend emerging asking for emotion. In Santa Monica, a homeless man near the promenade holds a sign that asks for someone to smile at him. In San Francisco, I passed a man who asked for a blessing (and a lottery ticket). The most unusual sign I have ever seen was not from a homeless man asking for something, but rather from a young man who felt he had something to offer. I first noticed him while I stood in the Seattle marketplace yesterday; a man wearing a kilt in 50* weather. He was dressed well but he held a cardboard sign above his head; a sign I could not believe. "FREE HUGS" it read and I thought there had to be a catch. Perhaps he would hit you up for a tip or maybe he would charge for a picture. I was intrigued by this man so I decided to sit and watch. Person after person walked right past him ignoring the sign completely. Finally a tourist accidentally bumps into him and reads the sign while helping him up. "Free hugs, what's the catch"? After learning that there was no catch the tourist collected their free hug and went on their merry way. I stood there and watched a little longer until others began to notice and claim their hugs. I overheard one passerby ask "why free hugs" to which the man replied "why not"? He was doing this to promote love and charity and he asked nothing in return. Still a little weary of the hug, I pushed my friend into his arms so that I could snap a picture. Only after she proclaimed it to be the best hug ever did I actually partake myself. I did feel a little better afterwards and it definitely brightened up my day. So to the man at the marketplace giving free hugs and asking nothing in return, I say thank you and I apologize for ever doubting your sincerity.

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