If more of us were willing to do small acts of kindness like this, the world would be a better place.
I’ve had a laptop computer “parked” at home for a long time. It fell into disuse about 7 years ago, and every now and then I would come across it stored in a closet, gathering dust. Theoretically, it was supposed to be useful in case of emergency if my newer laptop ever broke down.
Recently, I learned that a local non-profit called Petits Detalls, which works in Uganda, recycles old computers. Quico Germain, the young man who started it in 2014, and his team give the old computers new life as learning tools for the children of the orphanage-school the charity has built.
It occurred to me that I could donate my laptop, so I took it to my local Media Markt in Lleida, Spain. (Media Markt in Europe is comparable to Best Buy in North America.) I put on my face mask, cleaned my hands with hand sanitizer, and waited in line. After a while, I was served by a young man. Due to his face mask, I’d only be able to recognize him in the future by his voice, hands, eyes, glasses and long, black, curly, rocker-like hair.
Worth the extra cost
I asked him how much it was going to cost me to reset the computer and clean all my personal data, and he told me that a superficial cleaning would cost 8 euros, but if I wanted my data to be unrecoverable in any way, it would take about 10 hours and would cost me about 20-30 euros (about $24 – $36). I’d have to leave it and pick it up another day.
I thought about it and eventually decided that it was worth spending the extra money: I prefer my data not to be floating around out there.
As we talked, he mentioned that he was surprised that I had brought him a laptop of that particular brand, which was unknown to him and wasn’t even listed in the Media Markt’s price database anymore because it was so old. I told him that it could still be useful, and I explained to him my intention of giving it to a non-profit in Africa.
Harder than it seemed
I went back after two days, taking advantage of another errand I had to run, and asked if the job had been finished yet. The same young man attended me and told me that it was requiring extra work for some reason or another (I don’t know anything about computers and I don’t remember what he told me). We agreed that I would wait for a text message from Media Markt to come and pick it up.
The next day, it was ready, and I get the text message. I went to the store, and went through the routine again: face mask, hand sanitizer, and waiting line. The same clerk was there.
He prepared the laptop, put it in the bag I brought him, and gave me the folded bill, printed on letter-sized paper. “You’re all set,” he said. I unfolded it and saw that the amount shown was $0.00.
Since my memory isn’t great, I asked him if I’d already paid for it the first day, but he shook his head: “No.” He picked up the computer bag with both hands and brought it to me. “It’s nothing,” he said. I realized that he didn’t intend to charge me for his work, and that he was doing so because the computer was going to help the charitable organization in Africa.
My jaw dropped, surprised by this “little” great act of generosity. I thanked him and asked his name. He told me that his name is Albert. I still could only see his hair and his eyes behind his glasses.
I noticed that he didn’t want to draw attention to himself, but he was happy to have contributed to a project that will help these children in Uganda. If more of us were willing to make such small, unsolicited acts of generosity like Albert did, the world would be a better place.