Monday, August 17, 2009

Simply Paying it Forward

During my morning routine of drinking coffee and feeding the pets, I overheard a news story that caught my attention. It simply caught my attention because it was not about Michael Jackson, the war, health care, politics and so on...

The story was about a woman who found two very expensive and beautiful rings while she was out one night in Palm Beach. Instead of letting them go unclaimed at a police auction, she contacted the local news with the hope of finding their owner. She knew someone would be looking for them and knew that they were extremely important in someone's life. Fortunately, the owner saw the news story and claimed the rings...with great appreciation. The woman who found the rings said she just wanted to reassure someone that there were still good people in this world...

Now, this is the kind of story that makes me think...and question myself. What would I have done if I found two diamond rings one night? Would I have returned them? Would I have thought to contact the local media? If you've seen the movie Pay It Forward then you will have a better understanding of where I'm going with my thoughts...if not, you must watch it! After the news story was over, I thought about whether or not I've done something in my life lately to reassure another person that there are still good people. Now, I'm not complimenting myself, saying I'm a saint or anywhere near perfect...but just one helpful interaction with someone in need can go a long way. So here is my good deed.

A few weeks ago, I had just left the gas station and was on my way home when I came to the intersection a few blocks from my house. The car in front of me had it's flashers on. I saw a worried older woman looking out the window and I sat there for a minute to see if she was going to move...but she didn't. I hung my head out the window and asked her if she needed any help. She had her cell phone on her ear and replied with a frantic "yes, please...no one is answering their phones..." She said she ran out of gas and that her car had been giving her trouble lately. I could relate...

After a short discussion, I reassured her that I would be back in less than five minutes with a gas can. I pulled up to my house only to remember that my brother had my gas can and he couldn't bring it to me at the moment. Thankfully, my neighbor was outside and he offered his gas can along with the gas that was left. I quickly thanked him and ran back to the car. On the way back to the intersection, I couldn't understand why she SO frantic. I've ran out of gas before and I was embarrassed, frustrated and (probably) late somewhere...but not frantic.

When I pulled up next to her I saw what caused her to be upset. Her back seat was loaded with young children...not to mention that day was extremely hot and humid. She said that she had her grandchildren and thought she could make it to the gas station...I smiled at her and told her I would give her the rest of the gas in the can. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to start her car so she handed some cash to her oldest grandson in the car and told him to ride with me. I looked at her like she just asked me to adopt him..ha! "No, really....I can go by myself and come back with more gas...you don't have to send him with me." My main concern was that she would worry or have the most horrible thoughts go through her head. I mean, she had no idea who I was or what my intentions were...not that I would do anything crazy...it's just the way the world is now.

So, he climbed in the passenger side, buckled up, and gripped the door handle for dear life. I could sense that he was nervous so I started somewhat of a conversation. I asked him if he went to school around here, what grade he was in, what sports he played, how many siblings he had and if he was having a fun summer. You know...the conversations you have with kids you don't know. Every time he answered me was "Yes ma'am or No ma'am." I looked at him and said..."You are so polite, but you're making me feel old!!" He cracked a smile and started talking a little more...making the short ride less uncomfortable.

We got back to the car, emptied the gas into her tank and exchanged a few passing words. As I was putting the cap back on I told her what a polite grandson she had and that I hoped she had a better Saturday afternoon. Before I could turn around to get in my car, she grabbed my hand and thanked me...genuinely. Not some empty appreciation. I told her that I did it because I would hope someone would do that for me, my sister, or mom if they needed help and that I was more than happy to know that they could be on their way. She tried to offer me money and asked if she owed me anything. I denied the money and just told her to help someone else in need at some time. She smiled and her grandchildren all chimed in with sweet little "thank you's" from the back seat.

As I drove home, I smiled and said a prayer...thanking God that he had given me an opportunity to help someone else. I also thanked him for allowing me the ability to do something outside of my routine that made me feel good, kind and appreciated.

I challenge everyone to step outside of your comfort zone and help someone else...pay it forward.


Heather said...

I LOVE that movie. (But I cry every time I watch it!)

You did a wonderful deed. I know you were such a blessing to that lady and her grandchildren. And you are SO right... even the smallest things can mean something huge to someone else. Great post, thanks for the reminder!! :)

toughtoswallow said...

this is such a great story and happy to see that there really ARE people in this world who are paying it forward!


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I am a 20-something young woman growing up and experiencing the things my mother warned me about...love, friendship, hard work, disappointment and success.