The bill comes after a delicious restaurant meal. Diners check the total, and it is $0.00. No matter what or how much they have eaten, the total is the same. Nada. Zero. Nothing. Diners before them have paid for their meal.
The volunteer-run experiment in generosity now has outlets in Berkeley, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. Karma Kitchen serves up community along with the food. So far some 25,000 people have savoured the meals, contemplated the zero-sum bills, and invested in an experiment in generosity.
The experiment in the “gift economy” is a project of KarmaTube, which is “dedicated to bringing inspirational stories to light, using the power of video and the internet to multiply acts of kindness, beauty, and generosity.”
The intent is to shift from “me” to “we”. Someone who came before you has given the gift of your meal. Volunteers are taking your orders, preparing your food, washing your dishes. If you decide to pay it forward (which delighted diners do), you understand you will never meet the person you fed, never say “thank you”, never gain something by your gift.
Karma Kitchen began in 2007. It’s still going. It gives me hope.
Video from KarmaTube