It was the day after Halloween in about 1995 when these cards came into being. For the first time ever, Christmas decorations appeared in stores on that early date and something inside me said "Enough!" I became determined to find something personal I could do as a counter-effect.
What I came up with were the cards you see above, which I laid out in Adobe's Pagemaker program (now called InDesign) so they would print 10 to a sheet. Then, I printed 50 sheets, cut them into individual cards and found a way to give out all 500 before Christmas that year, mostly to total strangers. In addition, I found as many good deeds as I could to do here and there and then left a card.
To make it to the 500 mark, I handed the cards out with most all of my interactions, especially whenever I bought something at a store. Typically, I would just say "I made up these cards and it's not for you to keep. On the front is an idea and on the back it tells how to give the card away to someone else. And, remember, anonymous counts."
That first year, I also said I was in hopes that each recipient would find a way to pass their card along to someone else as soon as possible before the coming Christmas.
Although reactions were across-the-board, many people would reluctantly take the card, usually without even looking at it. Those that did have time to read both sides, though, would invariably smile and say they'd be sure to do something that would warrant passing the card along.
There were several folks who ran me down as I was walking away to find out what organization was doing this and where they could get more cards. By Christmas, when I'd reached my goal, the upshot was I decided the concept warranted continuation and so I've started another thousand or so cards on their way since then.
These days, I carry a few of the cards with me when I travel and try to remember to hand them out with all my transactions. Perhaps, dear reader, you've been given one yourself.
As I got requests from folks wanting to print their own, I added a pdf file here to the Rangerville website to facilitate that.
If you'd like to print out some of these cards to give out, here's how: I have placed a pdf file online that prints out 10 cards per 8.5 x 11" sheet. They are formatted to fit Avery's business card template, though it's just as easy to print the file onto card stock, back and front, then cut the cards out along the lines shown. If you don't have Adobe's free Acrobat Reader program (most current browsers are capable of reading the file; try that first), you can download it at Adobe.com. It's best to print them onto cardstock, of course.
When appearing as Mr. Turquoise, my clown personality of 25 years, I would also give a similar card out when I walked parade routes and at other events. If you prefer to print out cards with a typeface that's turquoise (and who doesn't!), you may want to download Mr. T's template file, instead.
When people ask me why I'd do something like this, I usually tell them it's because I'm selfish. You see, I secretly hope that someday I'll find one of these cards – ragged and dog-eared – under my wiper blade, left by someone who put a coin in my parking meter so I wouldn't get a ticket. Though that hasn't yet happened, I have heard a number of 'good deed stories' from card recipients.
My favorite to date was related by a couple who couldn't make it to a Friday night gathering of old friends, but thought to surprise them at breakfast the next morning. However, the surprise was on them since, as they found out later, the whole gang had gone out for breakfast because the kitchen was such a mess from the night before. Not knowing this at the time, the folks with the card cleaned up the kitchen and left the card in the middle of one of the spotless countertops.
Last I heard, they still hadn't confessed to having done the deed. I guess they understood about the anonymous part, too.