A few months ago, before a long, 45-mile drive back to Longmont, which can take up to an hour and a half depending on the time of day, I looked for something to eat. Because it was the only fast food on the road leading to the interstate, and in order to help prevent road rage (by a hungry me!), I pulled in to the Arby’s drive-though—although the line was longer than the women’s restroom at halftime of a major sporting event! (I’ve waited in those lines, too.)
Finally it was my turn, and a muffled voice came over intercom asking if they can take my order—not a friendly or mean voice, just a voice in the box with little emotion. I placed my order and slowly made my way to the window, not paying attention to the cars in front or behind me; I was probably busy paying attention to my phone.
I got to the window, and I was about to hand over my $10 bill for my $6.71 order, when the voice (now attached to a real person, not a box) came alive and started screaming—yes, screaming—that the car in front of me had bought my food! Seriously??? He screamed it excitedly, again and again! He had a smile on his face bigger than the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland! The car in front of me had already driven away, so there was no way for me to thank them, or even see who it was.
I decided to pay it forward a month ago when I was at the hospital in Mason City, Iowa, waiting with my niece for my mom to finish up her doctor visit. My niece and I went to the small little concession stand, and I heard the lady behind me commenting on the high price of the cinnamon rolls, but the child with her really wanted one. So I secretly bought her two cinnamon rolls and a bottle of water, telling the clerk not to mention it was me.
In this instance, unlike when you’re in a drive-through, I was able to observe the exchange as the clerk informed the customer that her purchase was paid for. We sat at a table a little ways away as the customer, an elderly lady, found out she was getting her cinnamon rolls for free. She was a little bit in shock, and didn’t really understand at first what happened, although she seemed grateful.
But what I was really enjoying was the clerk’s reaction—she was thrilled, and she couldn’t stop smiling (Cheshire Cat again!) that she was able to be the bearer of joy and good news. The clerk kept telling the customer in an excited voice that someone cares and wanted to do something nice, and it’s a pay-it-forward moment for her. The clerk definitely seemed more excited about it than the customer.
As we headed back upstairs to pick up my mom, my niece asked me why I did that, and she said that she had never met anyone as nice as me. Wait, really? That’s sad to hear. An 11-year-old who had never known someone willing to give? That breaks my heart!
Last Friday at Coffee and Connections, I asked the group about paying it forward—when was the last time they paid it forward or witnessed a kind act from someone else?
The responses were all amazing and heartwarming, but one notion stood out—the idea of what I call “invisible giving.” Not specific acts of kindness, but all-time-time kindness. She’s the one who holds the door open, helps pick up things when they’re dropped in front of her, and smiles at you when it seems as though you could use a friendly face.
The act of paying it forward affects more than just the person giving and the one receiving—it also includes the person who has the privilege of delivering the good news, and those who get to witness the act of kindness, like my niece. And I truly hope she witnesses many more random acts of kindness in her life.
How do we pay it forward at Coffee and Connections? By supporting our local non-profits! All of our events, meetings, and groups go towards supporting the non-profits in the Longmont area. You can help by liking our Facebook page, and sharing our events with your loved ones <3