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Pay it Forward

Watching this video reminded me of something that had happened  earlier this year that had a huge impact on me. It was the simplest thing, but has really changed the way I interact and see people.

On most Saturdays, you will find my family sitting front and center at the local diner eating scones the size of our head. It's a lovely tradition that gives me great comfort.

On one such Saturday, we were seated between two very large parties. One was an older gentleman who was there with all of his six grown children. Another was a young father there with all of his six young children.

I watched the young Father trying to navigate between two tables to take care of the needs his children were presenting and I noticed that the older gentleman was watching him with great interest as well. I wondered if he was remembering the days of yore when he was the Ring Master for the Circus he was leading. He looked like he was feeling rather nostalgic as he looked over his grown children laughing and watched the young father becoming increasingly more frustrated because his meal was getting cold.

 Then something incredible happen.

The older gentleman signaled for his waitress to come over to him and he stated that he wanted to pay for the young fathers meal. She looked at him kind of funny and said "That family over there with seven people?" The older man nodded his head and quietly said "Yes. I'd like to pay for his ticket with mine. And, I don't want him to know who did it either."

My full attention was on the scene unraveling before me.

The older man's children heard what he was doing and started quizzing him. He silently put his finger to his lips to shush them and said "Just because." 

He quietly paid for the younger man's meal and then left without incident.

Shortly after the Good Samaritan left, I watched as the younger man signaled for his ticket so he take his circus party to the car. The waitress said with a grin "Your meal has been paid for." The man tried to argue with her, and she calmly put her hand on his arm and said again "Your meal has been paid for. I hope you have a wonderful day" and then she walked away.

He stood there speechless looking around trying to figure out who had been so kind to him, but they were no where to be found.

That little scenario made a huge impact on me.

A few days later I found myself getting my morning Diet Coke at my gas station and I noticed two Tweens counting their pennies. They were trying to scrounge up enough money to pay for drinks and a bag of liquorice.  I remembered the kind man from a few days earlier and went to the attendant and asked him to go over and see what they had in their possession because I wanted to pay for it, but I didn't want them to know it was me.

He did.

I did.

And, it felt amazing.

Not because I had paid for someone to buy junk food. No. It was because I had done something nice for someone that I didn't know, and I did it for no reason at all.

There was no reason for the older man to pay for the meal at our local diner and there was no reason for me to pay for the junk food. Other than I had seen someone else be kind and I wanted to do the same.

The above video, if you pay close attention, shows you how one person's actions affect literally hundreds. You can see as the video progresses the interactions these people are all having and how its affecting them in small, positive ways. It's actually quite moving to think about.

You see stories in the news all the time about people "paying it forward". In fact, at a Starbucks in Marysville, Washington, over 500 people paid for the orders behind them in the drive thru for over 24 hours. That's amazing. And, so simple.

The givers of those random acts of kindness are the ones who reap the most benefit. It changes you, for the better. I know it did me that snowy morning as I watched one man pay for another mans meal. All in the spirit of kindness.

Kindness is contagious and it goes a long, long way.

What are you going to do today to Pay it Forward?

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