Monday, April 4, 2011

Pay It Forward

You know when you go to buy a cart at the grocery store and some lovely person has left their dollar in it, making that moment a bright spot in your day? That happened to me the last time I was at the grocery store. I had my dollar in hand and was ready to put it in the cart and realized that someone had left their dollar in it. I don't know if they forgot or if it was intentional but it put a smile on my face. The first thing I did was look around to see if  someone was smiling, letting me know that they had planned this moment for someone, that they were paying it forward. I really like to think that the world is a nice place, that people really care about each other and are looking out for each other. I like to think that generosity and the brotherhood of man are principles that the world could live by. The concept of paying it forward is one that is both heart-warming and world-altering.

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.


  1. I love when you write Lisa. I can hear your voice, and the soothing, and compassion that is there. I look forward to your pieces all the time. Thank you for everything.


  2. Thanks for reading Adelle! Hope you are doing well! School almost done? Maybe see you soon!??

  3. Yes school is just about done, i'm hoping to see you soon, i really enjoy talking and listening to you. i will keep in touch though for sure!

  4. Adelle,
    Maybe we could do coffee or something? I would be nice to catch up.

  5. For Sure!! I'll let you know when I'm back in Westlock, it would mean alot to catch up.