We have been proponents of “pay it forward” even before those three words became a popular phrase in the movie, Pay It Forward, which debuted in 2000. We often attribute our good luck to paying it forward, although good luck is an unintended by-product.
Prior to being married Ron and I took a cross-country trip to visit my parents in Minnesota. In Utah our car stopped in its tracks outside of a small town called, Nephi. (Yes, we had Auto Club service, however, Steve Jobs and Apple had not yet perfected the Smart phone).
Within minutes of stopping, a driver in a small truck stopped to assist us. It just so happened that he was a mechanic. He told us that our car would have to be towed 25 miles in the opposite direction in which he was headed for his upcoming wedding in California. And, he generously volunteered to do that.
When we offered to pay him, he refused. He simply said: “Do something nice for someone else, when the opportunity arises!”
We both find ways to do just that on a daily basis. The picture of the cart in the parking lot above was something we recently took care of at Trader Joe’s. We brought it back to where it was supposed to be. The guy hired for the job of collecting carts has seen us do this for him on several occasions. Now, whenever he sees us taking our own cart back after unloading our groceries, he runs to take it from us.
On one occasion, the lady ahead of us at the market was missing a dollar for her groceries. Ron opened his wallet and handed her a dollar. She was so surprised she almost did not accept it. He repeated our Utah friend’s mantra “Do something nice for someone else, when the opportunity arises!”
We do not think of paying it forward as something we have to do. It simply has become a part of who we are. What we have noticed is a constant stream of good luck coming our way. We think it is an unintended by-product of our daily focus of paying it forward.
Yesterday, while driving back in a rainstorm from the Santa Ynez Mountains, our rear tire was hit by a sharp rock and was rapidly deflating. We limped back to Santa Barbara in search of air for the tire. The owner of the USA station made sure we had free air rather than pay $1.50 for it.
Luckily, Firestone Tires was just a block away because the tire needed to be replaced. They had the right size tire for our car and someone was available to change the tire right away.
For us, paying it forward is not a means to an end, the end being good luck. It is just part of our day. As an end unto itself it is really fun!