I had the opportunity to do a bit of a social experiment while I was in Hawaii.

I had been wrong about Hawaii and I wanted to go back for a second visit.  When my brother needed to fly there to attend the wedding of a good friend, it was an opportune time to make another trip.

He was given a vase of gorgeous roses (centerpiece) from the wedding reception.  There was one problem.  We were all due to fly out to another island the next day, so we couldn’t enjoy them.

a vase of flowers on a table



As we tried to figure out what to do with these beautiful roses, I plucked some of the wilted petals and discarded a few.  By the time I was done, there were 8 roses left.  They were still beautiful, but they didn’t look as “full” in the vase.

A random thought suddenly came to mind:  Just because we couldn’t enjoy them doesn’t mean others can’t.  It’s not typical of me, but I thought it might actually be fun to hand out roses to random strangers.  Maybe, just maybe, it could brighten someone else’s day.

Giving Roses to Strangers

I didn’t have a flower bag (and putting the roses in a regular plastic bag looked tacky), so I decided to take the whole vase with me.  It was one of those things I really have no idea what I was doing – I didn’t have a real plan.  I thought maybe I’ll start at the hotel lobby and go from there.

Initial Success!

It started off exceptionally well.   As I was heading down the elevator, a middle-aged lady got on. She commented to me that the roses are lovely.

Bingo!  I immediately offered her one, free.  I don’t think she was expecting it, but she was delighted by the offer.  She picked a rose and we chatted briefly.  Once we reached the lobby, she stepped out with me but oddly pressed the elevator button to go up again.  She smiled and explained to me (unprompted) that she want to put the rose in her room (so she can enjoy it later).  She looked happy.  I was too – how lucky was I to find someone so quickly who appreciate a pretty rose!

The next one was easy.  I made a beeline to the front desk and offered one to the staff.  She seemed pleasantly surprised and gracefully took a rose.  I bid her a nice day and moved on.

Two down. Just 6 more roses to go.

a close up of a yellow rose

Giving out single roses to random strangers


Not Everyone Was Interested

I saw a couple sitting in the hotel lobby waiting area. There was some language barrier, but I approached them anyway and offered them roses, emphasizing that they are free.  They turned me down very quickly.  Ouch.  (I won’t do well in sales, I guess).

I walked away and looked around, suddenly wondering everyone has gone.  The couple was still eyeing me after I left; I think they were trying to figure out what I was trying to sell.

A Family Affair

After being rejected, I wondered if I should continue or just abandon this whole silly idea.

Then I saw a family was getting ready to leave from the pool area so I headed over there (a Mom, two daughters, a child in the carriage and the Dad).   I approached the Mom and asked if she would be interested in a rose.  I suppose she has a healthy dose of skepticism.  She didn’t take a rose immediately.  She didn’t decline either, but she hesitated.  At which point, I added brightly, “Really, it’s free.”

Not even two seconds after I said it, I hear a little voice to the left of me says,

“I want a rose, please”.

One of the daughters (probably 7-8 years old) heard the offer and chimed in, and I nearly laughed out loud because I didn’t see that one coming.  Such innocence!  “Of course”, I said, as I lowered the vase to her so she could choose her favorite one.  She tentatively placed her hand over one but then pulled back, thinking hard if she should choose that one or another.

The Mom helped her daughter along, “Just pick any one, they are all beautiful”.

Immediately after she picked hers, I noticed the other younger daughter wanted one as well with her outstretched hands – seemingly not wanting me to forget about her when her sister got one.  I lowered the vase for her and she took one.  The Mom then decided that she’ll take one at that point.  The Dad didn’t want one.  The 2-3 year old baby in the carriage just stared at me, wide-eye.  I hope she didn’t feel left out.  What an adorable family.

Success!  3 more down, just 3 more roses to go.

Gender Stereotypes

I was on a roll, so I thought maybe I could just finish handing them out.

There was another couple sitting by the pool.  I went over and offered it to them.  There might be a slight language barrier here, but I emphasized that it’s free (that’s a universal language?)   The gal was skeptical and shook her head.  The guy looked hesitant, and I was mildly surprised when he reached out and picked out a rose.

So much for gender stereotypes – I thought it would be the other way around with the two of them.

Just 2 more roses to go!

I saw two friends chatting by the pool chairs, who probably already saw the whole thing.  I wandered over there, apologized for interrupting their conversation and asked them if I could interest them in a free rose.   They were and accepted them quite readily!

Mission accomplished!

Wrapping Things Up

The whole event took less than 10-15 minutes.  Since I have no more space in my luggage, I sheepishly went back to the front desk clerk and asked if she knew of anyone who might have a use for a vase.  She didn’t have a need but offered that one of her colleagues might use it.  I was thrilled!  She gladly took the vase off my hands.

Granted, I don’t know what people did with the roses after, but I guess that didn’t really matter.  I’m just glad I was able to hand them out to a few people who seemed to appreciate them to varying degrees.

I suppose if someone were to offer me roses in this way, I’d wonder or ask why they are being given away.  Interestingly, only 1 of 8 people asked.  If it’s coming from someone in a non-creepy way*, I personally think it’s a lovely gesture.  After all, roses are just so pretty.  And it’s not every day you’d get a free rose (at least I don’t).

It may not be much, but no small gesture is too small, in my book.


*I am clearly biased, but I think I presented the free rose in a friendly, non-creepy way. 🙂

What would you do if you were suddenly given a free rose from a stranger?  Would you take it or would you be skeptical of the offer?