Monday, May 29, 2017

Pay it forward ~ my column from Sunday's paper

Something interesting happened to me on the way to work this past week. It had been a particularly bad news day with news out of Manchester, England. It seems there was an act of terrorism and people died. Children died. Social media and all the news channels were abuzz. I found myself getting sucked into a swirling vortex of doom and gloom until a stranger shed a little light on my day.

The day usually begins for me with a bowl of cereal for breakfast but we’d been out of town over the weekend, and there was no milk in the fridge. I went to plan B which was to pick up a biscuit and coffee at Jack’s before heading to a meeting. The morning rush is always hectic there. But the restaurant “slams and jams” at that hour. I didn’t have to wait long. When I was two cars away from the window, I slid the gear shift to park, and I leaned over to pull the wallet from my pocket. Counting out the correct amount of money, I pulled to the window as the car in front of me drove away.   

The young window-worker smiled as she leaned out and handed me my coffee and a bag with my biscuit. When I gave her the money, she said, “The lady in front of you paid for your order.” It took me a moment to process what she’d said. I looked over and saw her car pulling from the parking lot, but I didn’t recognize the vehicle. I wanted to offer a wave of thanks, but she never looked back. The random act of kindness touched me.

I started to put the money back in my wallet, but on a whim, I looked in my rear-view mirror. Two teenaged boys were in the car behind me. “How much is their breakfast,” I asked. Handing the money to the smiling window-worker, I told her I wanted to pay for their meal. Clicking my shifter into gear, I drove away and didn’t look back. 

My breakfast cost me the same amount it would have cost had I bought it myself. But that the exchange at the Jack’s breakfast drive-thru window turned my day around. I let world news bubble and spew without my participation.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the world is a cesspool and that humanity is hurtling headfirst into a tunnel of darkness. Ten minutes of any news channel or talk radio would supply an abundance of evidence to support this theory. But there’s kindness all around us. The problem is that good news doesn’t sell as good as bad news. While bad news travels like a virus, good news tends to travel from smile to smile which is often much slower.

I can’t change the fact that there are a few mean people all over this planet. But the next time I pull into the drive-thru at Jack’s for breakfast, I can put a smile on the faces of the people in the car behind me.


  1. That happened to me also not long ago. I was kinda having a bad day. It actually made me tear up thinking how nice that was. I've learned that once that pay it forward starts at Chic Fil A - it has continued for very long stretches. I've heard about it on our local Facebook page. I paid for the folks behind me too. It is really a nice thing to do and it brings a big huge smile and gives you faith in mankind again.

  2. Anonymous8:17 PM

    Pay it forward makes everyone feel good!!

  3. If everyone on this planet would do just one nice thing for someone..just a smile if that's all you can give..every day it would change the planet. I get excited if the quarter is left in the Aldi cart! Your post gave me hope and a smile! Thanks!

  4. Awe Rick I loved reading this, it's so good to read some good things with all the craziness in this world... we do need to pay it forward, more now than ever xox

    I miss your blog a lot, the pain I was dealing with kept me from writing ... thankfully my doctor found a pill that is helping me... it's good to be back xox

  5. Kindness should be spread around like confetti. And my eyes are a little sweaty reading this post. It is so nice to hear of pleasant actions. Thank you.

  6. Kindness is indeed a game changer.

  7. The kindness of paying it forward is like the ripple in the ocean that gets bigger as it goes and ends up in big waves. Your picture is a great metaphor.

    Hugs, Julia

  8. Truly there is a lot of good in the world. We just don't hear enough about it. I'm thankful for the beach picture today...always makes me smile! The world is full of good and good things !

  9. Great writing and a way to show how much kindness is in the world. Despite the horrible incident in Manchester, one saw how many people got together and supported one another during this grave time. I love this picture in relaxing

  10. This post made me fill good. I too have been in a gloomy funk from the news to a hard time at work. Thanks for the happy words showing actions of good people.

    1. uuugh. "Feel good", Not "Fill good". One day I'll actually have a full comment or post without errors. haha

  11. When someone gives you a kindness you feel good and so does that person. To pass the kindness on to the net person doubles your good feeling and makes another person feel good. I agree with you. If each person in the world would commit just one act of kindness each day we would have a world of peace.

  12. What a great start to the day it is those little things that make a big difference in a persons life

  13. Now I like this! Great column!


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