I have a lot of inspiring friends (as you might have noticed).  One of them, at the end of September, invited me to the ongoing  “Pay it forward” event on Facebook.  It’s a gentle reminder every day to find a way to help someone else.  A lot of people do this fiscally, which is GREAT, except that I am a poor (recovering from) college studebtdent.  Most of my meals are either small portions of a batch of something easy to make cheaply in bulk (stews, soups, casseroles), reheated frozen items, or ninety-nine cent heart attacks.

This is the life I live, which is fine by me, but it’s hard to go to the grocery store and offer to buy someone’s $70 worth of groceries, not because I don’t want to, but because I just can’t afford it.

But, thankfully, I have an equally inspiring family.  When we lived in California and had to cross toll bridges, my family would pay for the car behind us and tell the teller to pass along the message, “Have a good day.”  It’s one of my FAVORITE traditions ever, one that we repeat every time we can (not a whole lot of toll bridges in Colorado, and it’s much harder to pay for the person behind you on toll roads).  So, I resolved that the next time I had someone behind me in line at a fast food joint, I would buy them their food.  It wasn’t much, but it was within my budget.  And, it was something.  Something that recalled formative childhood memories, that I knew would make someone else and my soul happy.

Unfortunately, over the month of October, when I was in the line of a given restaurant, it was mostly with a limited amount of cash or during really SLOW times.  And there were just the times I forgot.  I looked for other chances to pay it forward in less fiscal ways, but I did want to do this.

It finally happened, today!  I was in line, with my card, there was a person behind me, and I remembered.

I watched out of the back window as the poor gentleman was given the message of, “Have a good day.”  I watched him make confused faces and chat with the window operator, trying to understand.  My food came out, I went to leave and couldn’t resist one last look in my mirror.  This young man had his hand held up in acknowledgement and a HUGE smile on his face.  For less than $2 of food.  I held my thumb up to him and went on my way with a fool’s grin of my own.

I don’t know why it made him so happy.  I do know it did.  And I know that it made the heart of the four year-old child that lives in me dance.  I remembered why my parents taught me to help others in such a small way, and I remembered why this tradition had imprinted on my heart so deeply.  There is nothing random about kindness.  It is a choice.  And it is a choice that brings an inimitable happiness, a truly pure happiness, in its wake.

Even if that wake consists of a mere two dollars of crappy fast food.

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