Friday, December 23, 2011

Paying it Forward

I recently received a "Thank You" card and $20 in the mail after I had returned a birthday card and its contents to the sender.  It was from an elderly woman who had sent her granddaughter a card and quite a bit of cash to a non-existant address at my apartment complex. The mailman had delivered it to my mailbox three times! I ended up getting another envelope and mailing everything back to her with a note explaining what had happened. I certainly never expected anything in return, but I felt better knowing that the poor woman wasn't going to lose all of that money. Getting that "Thank You" card in the mail made my day. 

Fast forward two weeks to this morning...  I went to my Sonic (I call it "my" Sonic because I stop there just about every morning to get my Route 44 Diet Coke with lime and extra ice), and I swear ten hours later, I am still grinning ear to ear.  You see, I never carry cash, so I rarely am able to tip my carhops.  Today though, I happened to have a $20 bill in my purse (the same $20 bill sent to me as a "Thank You" for simply doing the right thing), and I thought "This is perfect!!!  It's time to pay it forward!  I think a carhop is about to have one very Merry Christmas!" ;-)  I ordered my little $5 meal, paid with my $20, and told her to keep the change. 

You would have thought she'd just won the lottery.  :-)

She asked me twice if I was sure.  She shrieked.  She giggled.  She jumped up and down on her skates, and thanked me over and over.  Then she wished me a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and a happy every other holiday of the year.  I left there knowing that I just made that girl's day, and in doing so, I made mine too!  There's nothing better the feeling that you get when you do something kind and unexpected for someone who truly appreciates it.

Throughout this Holiday Season, I have witnessed and experienced more random acts of kindness than ever before. 
  • My kids (current, past, and future) and I have received clothes, toys, etc. from family, friends, and even a neighbor that I had never met!  She just came by one afternoon, introduced herself, and told me that she had seen that I had a baby boy and wanted to know if I might be able to use some of the things that her son had outgrown.  She came back with a HUGE tub of clothes, and Monkey is very much stylin' in them.  :-) 

  • Early last week, my sister was the recipient of a "random act of kindness" when an old man stopped her in a store parking lot, asked her if she had kids, and then handed her a sealed envelope.  He said, "Here is some extra spending money. Merry Christmas!" and drove away.  It had $40 inside!  I know she was thrilled silly because she called me as she was pulling out of the parking lot.  She had some unexpected expenses come up that week with quite a bit of car trouble, and that $40 paid for the Christmas shopping that she had just done at that store.

  • I've had foster family friends with new placements recieve help with Christmas gifts for their new children.  One family received a huge delivery of diapers and wipes.  Several have had meals brought to the house to help out during the crazy adjustment period (I know that I never think to eat during those first couple of weeks after getting a new little one).  Some have had offers to babysit bio children during all of the initial medical and other foster care-related appointments that come up immediately after a new placement, etc.  People always think to help parents after the birth of a baby, but it is rare for anyone to think to help after the placement of new foster children in a home.  I was really happy to see so many people banding together to help so many of my friends and their new children.

  • A mom of another baby at Monkey's daycare saw me put his formula in his basket, and she offered to give me a can of hers because her baby recently switched to soy.

  • I've noticed that doors have been held open more often than usual.  People have offered to let others go before them in line at the checkout more than usual.  I've heard a couple of drivers in drive thrus offer to pay for the orders of the car behind them.  I've read articles about layaways being paid down for random strangers. 

So many amazing things happening...  And I can't help but wonder what the world would be like if each of the recipients of these random acts of kindness went out and paid it forward to someone else.  Sometimes, a gesture that might seem small and insignificant to you, might mean the world to someone else.  I know that simple $20 bill has already made the days of at least two people.  :-)


kcoleman said...

Well, you know my story...

Kylee said...

Just leaving a quick comment to let you know that this post made me so happy! Thanks for not only encouraging that carhop today, but for sharing it here with all of us, as well. I sometimes get so caught up in the stressfulness of life, that I forget how fun it is to give freely and generously. Thank you for the reminder and for being that example!

Dasaani said...

I love to do random acts for other people. I think it makes ME feel better than they do! I'm not a big fast food eater, but at least once a month I do, and I almost always pay for the car behind me. I also like to do, "Ma'am/Sir/Hey Kid.. I just saw this $10 fall out of your pocket" thing at the store. Most will look puzzled for a minute, but rarely will anyone ever not take the money.

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