Monday, April 4, 2011
Pay It Forward
With these thoughts in mind, when I returned the cart to the parking lot I left the cart with the dollar in it for the next person. I was feeling great. I was paying it forward, I was doing the right thing. I noticed, as I was settling the kids in the car, that there was a lady sitting in the car right next to me, which was right next to where the carts are parked. I had noticed that she had been putting her groceries into her car as I was walking across the parking lot with the kids and our groceries. Now, she was just sitting there in her car. As I was backing out of my parking spot, I saw her get out of her car and go to the cart that I had just left there (with the dollar in it). She took it! I watched her hurry back to her car like she was trying to hide. I was at first stunned. Then, mad. She had busted up the pay it forward! Then I was bummed.
As I thought about it, I realized that I wanted the pay it forward to work the way I wanted it, on my terms. The lady, whom I had dubbed Ebenezer, had ruined it for the next person to receive a free cart. The one thing that I was overlooking was 'Ebenezer's' story, which I do not know. I was judging her for what I thought was a tragic breakdown in paying it forward. She broke the cycle. But did she? Maybe she really needed that dollar. I have no way of knowing. It wasn't even my dollar to begin with. I realized something important about paying it forward, when you add judgment to the equation, it takes away the meaning and purpose of the whole thing.
I hope that someday 'Ebenezer' is truly affected by someone paying it forward. I hope it takes her breath away that someone cares about her. I hope she is speechless in that moment and that tears well up in her eyes. I hope that the first thought in her mind at that moment is how she could do the same for someone else and then pays it forward.