You could just make someone’s day

A few years ago I was with a friend in a bar in Fitzroy, Melbourne. The place wasn’t anything special, or at least, no more special than any other bar in the area. But as we sat and talked, I looked up to see the most unexpected sight.

In the bar’s doorway walked a large man, in his hands a papier-mâché carrot that when held fully upright was around the same height and almost the same width as he was. Perplexed, and almost without thinking, I left the table and approached him.

After some small talk, he told me the story of how he takes the giant carrot to bars, how he had made it at home, and how its green stalk could be removed so it would fit behind the door of his small bedroom. Soon, others in the bar approached, their phones ready to take a photo.

He carried the carrot around the bar and my friend and I, and everyone else in the bar it seemed, got a photo with it. I’m still not sure why, but there was something indescribably joyful about this absurd gesture. We offered money, but the man wasn’t interested; he seemed content enough just to be there.

When the last of the photos had been taken, I approached him again and asked the one question that had been lingering on my mind.

‘Why do you do this?’ I said. The man looked at me, not as if puzzled, but just waiting for the next line. I continued, ‘As in, why do you walk around bars with a giant carrot?’

The man, his arms now wrapped firmly around the carrot, looked at the smiling faces in the bar and turned back to me.

‘Because it makes people happy,’ he said calmly, and then without another word, he left, leaving me wondering if he had really been there at all.

It’s been a few years since this happened, but these words from Melbourne’s so-called ‘carrotman’ always seem to come flooding back to me, especially around this Christmas.

Perhaps his is an extreme example, especially since it involved a giant, papier-mâché carrot, but I guess what his gesture showed me was…

Do something to make someone else happy and you could just make their day.

He certainly made mine.