Three women were stalking the sidewalk outside the Pollo Tropical restaurant in Oldsmar on Wednesday afternoon, one armed with a camera, the other two with gift cards.
They were with Florida Bank. Their mission: spread a bit of holiday cheer, and get the bank more involved in the community. Their aim was to pass out 30 cards, worth $5 each at the restaurant.
Well intended, but their targets were often caught by surprise. In this day and age, anything free seems instantly suspect.
One example: Steve Schwersky, a local man simply walking to lunch. Schwersky, on his cell phone, paused when he saw the three approach. Perhaps conditioned by similar encounters with other strangers with less benevolent intentions, Schwersky knew something was up.
"I've got to go. I'm being attacked," he said into his phone.
"Hi! We're from Florida Bank, and doing random acts of kindness," said Jenny Stoudenmire, one of the bank representatives whose usual job is setting up small-business accounts. She handed him the gift card.
Schwersky paused. There was an "aha" moment. Free food? No strings attached? Okay.
"That's fantastic. That's just fantastic," he said. "Guess I'm in the right place at the right time."