Two days ago, I had the good fortune of "paying it forward." The woman I love has been telling me she does this sort of thing quite often and had recently told me an inspiring story and experience of her own, so I thought I'd try it myself. I was at Starbucks waiting on my vehicle to be fixed at the repair shop next door and decided to pay for a stranger's coffee. When I handed my card to the cashier I said, "Use this to pay for whoever is behind me." She looked at me kind of funny but said, "Okay." Minutes later, a man approached me and said, "I guess I owe you for this, huh?" I said, "No, all I ask is that you pay it forward." Ironically, and without him even knowing it was already paid for, he got not only coffee, but also orange juice and fruit. When he left, he gave me a big wave and smiled. Made that $8.50 tab easy to swallow with the huge smile it put on my face and the feeling it gave me inside. As I was preparing to leave, the cashier approached me and said, "That was AWESOME. You do this all the time?" I said, "No, my girlfriend told me about it and it can be done randomly. It doesn't have to cost you anything, it can be something as simple as opening a door for someone or merely giving a stranger a warm smile." She replied as I walked out, "That is so sweet! My co-workers and I were talking about what you did and we're going to do something similar today!" What happened next surprised and astounded me.
I said earlier that I was waiting on my vehicle to be repaired. Turns out I had put over $900 in brake work less than 3 months ago at PepBoys and the brake pads had already worn out. I thought they would just put new ones on, the same kind as I had before, since it was covered with their 90 day warranty. When I got there, I asked what they did. They didn't put just the pads on, but the highest quality ceramic style available AND new brake rotors. Keep in mind, all that they were REQUIRED to do under the warranty was install the same style cheapo pads that had already worn out. When I asked what the bill was, thinking I would have to pay the difference between the new style and the old, as well as for the rotors, the clerk said, "Nothing, we just decided to cover ALL of it." $200+ worth of parts and labor and it didn't cost me a DIME. I left thinking, "Wow, so THIS is how it works!"
Later, as I recounted the story to my girlfriend, she asked me to do this for her for Christmas: "Do 12 acts of kindness between now and Christmas. That will be my gift from you." And that's what I began doing yesterday. So, without further ado, here's the start of my list and, at the rate I've already started, it may go well BEYOND 12!
1.) Bought new ink cartridges for my sister's printer.
2.) Adjusted her computer settings so her printer will work wirelessly.
3.) Gave $5 to a homeless man standing by a freeway exit near Solana Beach, CA. He was holding a sign that read, "Ran on hard times. Will do any type of labor. Proverbs 19:17" As I handed him the 5 dollar bill, he said, "God bless you sir."
4.) Driving along a busy section of Hwy. 101 in Encinitas, allowed a man in an old Chevrolet pickup to back away from the curb and proceed on his way even though I had the "green light." Thought he might have lost his hand from waving it so hard in thanks!
5.) Sent an email of condolences to a dear Facebook friend whose father passed away last night.
As you can see, two of these "Acts of Kindness" involved money yet three didn't. That's the beauty of "Paying it Forward", being kind to others is simple, it can be free, and one we should do EVERY day, not just because its Christmas season. So, I challenge you who are reading this, perform ONE act of kindness (or more, if the mood hits you) EVERY day between now and Christmas and keep it going EVERY day after that! Being kind to others is what Jesus did and what is sorely needed in today's often confusing, complicated, and cynical world. Together, we CAN make a difference so, "Keep Kindness Alive"!