Honesty Works

Honesty Works: we always knew it – but we’ve never had a week quite like this…

We had a break-in last Monday night and lost our Honesty Box takings for the day. Surveying the mess on Tuesday morning I never could’ve guessed I was about to have one of the most amazing few days of my life…

You can’t have missed it – we’ve been on BBC, UTV, Belfast Tele, U105, and all over social media like I’ve never seen!

Once the word started spreading, we started getting messages of support from everywhere and everybody. People were furious… WHO ROBS THE DOCK? asked one comment on Facebook and people were piling over each other to agree! We were overwhelmed by waves of love and solidarity and support. Then, people started offering donations… someone started a JustGiving page… Twitter users started a campaign for every Dock Cafe customer to pay double…

The result is, a few days later, we’ve received back what we lost and more besides, thanks to the amazing generosity of so many people. Overwhelming!

And that’s not even the best part…

Alongside the missing cash was a sketchbook, carefully set aside to return to a customer who had accidentally left it behind in the cafe the previous day. (He had been in touch via Facebook and we knew he was over the moon that we had found it – it was irreplaceable). We put out appeals through social media, BBC Thought For The Day, UTV Live… everything we could think of!

The stuff that was stolen was just stuff – but that notebook was precious and priceless. Was there any chance that, if we promised it could be left back anonymously, it might be returned? We couldn’t really dare to hope that much – could we?

Well – the writing’s on the wall – and it is true:

How awesome to see Dock Cafe at the centre of a Good News story that swept through the media even more powerfully than the Bad News of the day before:

Another day later, I’m still in shock, in delight, and utterly disarmed and dumbfounded by the goodness of people.

As I type, Dock Cafe is being installed with a burglar alarm offered as a gift by a local company. Davy the artist is sitting at the big table by the window, drawing caricatures of all our customers in return for an Honesty Box donation, his way of helping us out. Someone in America is organising a book drive… the list goes on!

I’m humbled by the love of the Dock community and by the generosity of strangers. I’m encouraged and inspired to keep trusting, keep believing the best in people. I have a renewed sense of gratitude and love for the amazing, unique movement we’ve started. And I’m saying, again and again, with fresh conviction and boundless joy:

What is The Dock? – the best answers EVER!

“Are you real?”  Of all the answers and responses I’ve ever experienced when explaining the Dock concept for the first time, that one today was a beauty!  How do you answer that?!

It made me think of all the times when someone has managed to describe the essence of The Dock – often better than I ever could! – when they’re still in the shock of the new.  So here are a few of my favourites:

There’s Richard’s great way of phrasing it: “You take what you want, you give what you want”.

There’s this fantastic Henri Nouwen quote which popped up in the Dock Visitors Book:

Sometimes a line of poetry or a song lyric sums up the whole thing perfectly:

Or another visitor’s comment that made me smile – is Dock Cafe THAT good?!

You can find lots of great quotes when you look up Dock Cafe on Google Maps – as well as this really cool virtual tour of the cafe there’s loads of great one-liner reviews:

And of course there’s the daddy of all review sites: Trip Advisor.  It’s always inspirational, frequently illuminating, and occasionally embarrassing to see what visitors from all over the globe have experienced in their visit to Dock Cafe!  Here are a few choice snippets:

“Never been to a restaurant like this before”

“Dropped in for coffee and my woes dispersed”

“Relaxed home away from home”

And then this one – I think this is my all-time favourite:

There’s The Dock, summed up and condensed into one sentence in a way that puts all my ramblings to shame!

“A sense of what the world should be like: people enjoying and trusting other people”.

That’s the quote for above the door!


The Dock Hokey Cokey

There’s a new dance we’ve spotted being performed by lots of new arrivals at Dock Cafe.  I’m calling it the Entrance Ramp Wobble Boogie of Confusion and Consternation.  Or – more snappily – the Dock Hokey Cokey.

It goes like this:  People enter in through the main door.  They stop on the entrance ramp taking in the crazy surroundings, the shabby chic furniture, the maps and pictures, the bustling busy mix of people sprawled on the safe and clustering around the tables.   They put their left leg in.  They put their left leg out.  They wobble and pause and wonder what on Earth it’s all about.  And then sometimes they take their whole selves out – because they were looking for somewhere with food and a menu and waiters and a till and all of those kinds of mad things.

Now sometimes a cheery volunteer can rush over in time to explain that there’s no till –  but there is an Honesty Box;  there’s no waiter – but there is a friendly volunteer;  there’s no menu – but there is a whole host of delicious food in the takeaway deli next door (and it really is delicious – have you tried Angie’s chicken and ham pie?  Amazing!) if our cakes, scones, buns and soup aren’t what you were looking for.

But quite a lot of people do the Entrance Ramp Wobble Boogie of Confusion and Consternation before departing for our lives forever and we want this to stop!  We protest and we are against this dance! Down with this sort of thing! (careful now)

And so over the last few weeks we’ve been working hard to find better ways to explain Dock Cafe to its brand-new customers.  I have built a great Thing at the entrance (a proscenium arch? a pagoda? a cattle gate? a boarding ramp? it’s been called all these and more) with lots of signs to point you in the right direction:

And most of all we have revised our main blackboard  at the Honesty Box (so – goodbye to our lovely list of all the scones and cakes and bakes that we eat each month – we did love ya!) – and now it (hopefully) answers all the questions you are posing with your expressive dance.

So – once and for all – Ye boogiers, cease your boogieing! Put both feet in and do the hokey cokey.  This is what the Dock is all about!

(PS we’re working on an even-bigger version of this blackboard and also some postcard-sized takeaway versions – and trying to translate it into as many languages as possible – if anyone can help us with the translations please get in touch!)