Day 113 (Day 17) of The Middle Path Makeover – Pay It Forward

One of my daily practices on the Middle Path Makeover Project is to offer a minimum of one act of kindness without expecting anything in return. Every day is different from the next. The moments aren’t planned. They are inspired. Some days are as simple as holding the door open for a group of strangers or offering an apple to a panhandler (she then showed me she had no teeth and handed me back my apple – lol!). Whatever it is the opportunity presents itself and I try not to question the gut feeling that accompanies it. Today’s story is pretty cool so I wanted to share:

I was driving this afternoon on my way to an appointment and fell upon a conundrum: I had 25 minutes to get to my appointment which was 30 minutes away and I was also very low on gas. I calculated that I could get gas and be on my way in less than 5 minutes. So I pulled into the station and waited for the attendant. In the State of New Jersey, you legally cannot pump your own gas. I saw the attendant having a tense conversation with a woman customer in a car in front of me. I could visibly see her shaking her head no from the car and the attendant saying “Please pay, you cannot just leave without paying. Please wait…” I then saw the attendant quickly walk over to the pump to print out a blank receipt and as he walked back to the lady’s car, she tore out of the gas station. He tried to catch her license plate (my guess was he was going to ask her to write her information down), but I think he missed most of the numbers. Frustrated, he walked over to my car. He said very kindly “Hello Ma’am” and I handed him a $20 and asked if he could fill $20 regular. Then I asked if that woman just left without paying him. He explained that she owed $47 of gas and that she left without paying. I could see he was upset but his eyes were kind and in that moment (it really was only a fraction of a second) I knew what to do. I reached into my wallet and pulled out the remaining 2 $20 bills I had (actually, that’s all the cash I had) and I shoved it into his hands. He said no and tried to give it back but I said that he should have it. His eyes started to tear up and he said, “Why are you doing this?” (he’s gesturing to my old beat up Honda as if to say you don’t look like you can afford this)?” I replied back “Because it’s not your fault and I wish I had another $7 to give you but I don’t.” He smiled warmly and from (I swear it came from the bottom of his heart) he said “God Bless You”. He was so touched and I could tell he was truly having a hard time digesting what just happened. I got the gas and drove off and was 2 minutes late to my appointment.

As a disclaimer, I feel I must mention that I am not a wealthy person. I’m an average, in-debt American. $40 is a good amount of money to me and I usually think it through before spending that amount. That said, this opportunity presented itself literally in front of me and I felt I needed to answer that call. So I won’t eat out next week. It’s worth it, don’t you think?

If you have the opportunity, pay it forward. You will make a difference.

Leah Joy, The Zenful Blogger

9 thoughts on “Day 113 (Day 17) of The Middle Path Makeover – Pay It Forward

  1. Wow, what a wonderful story! I have one for you as well. One of my brother’s best friends is a bit of a lost soul and has no financial support from her parents. Since she has been there for him, my mom offered to pay for her car repairs when she needed them ($400, which my parents couldn’t afford either). This Christmas, our mechanics gave my mom a $1000 gift card “because she’s always doing nice things for others. Amazing! You will surely be rewarded for your kindness. And hopefully the man you helped did his good deed as well.

    • Love it! Remarkable and heartwarming story, thank you so much for sharing. And yes, i’m still feeling the aftereffects of my good deed yesterday and it’s AWESOME! I didn’t expect to feel this way. 🙂 Peace. – TZB

  2. Stories like that touch my heart. It takes a truly selfless person to give, without really expecting anything in return. I am not wealthy by any means. However, I feel selfless giving is important. Thanks for sharing this!! It made my day to know there are such honest, helping people in the world.

    • Thanks for checking out the post Janelle and for your kind words! I don’t know if I can say I’m a truly selfless person (I have many more selfish moments than I’d like to admit), but I really do try to follow my gut whenever the urge to have a selfless moment comes up. -TZB

  3. When I was a little boy, I used to play on a pinball machine in a cafe in Longton in England. The machine operated on the input of a 6 penny coin. I used my money until I only had one shilling (2 six pennies) left. I asked one of the customers if he could change my shilling fit two six penny coins. He took two coins from his pocket and gave them to me. I handed him the shilling. He refused it saying that when he was a child, he had been given a penny and was told it wasn’t a gift but instead it was a loan which he had to repay to someone else. By giving me these coins he was passing this obligation on to me. I thanked him, okayed two more games and used my shilling to get the bus home, rather than having to walk.

    Many years later I found myself in a fast food shop in Longton and in front of me was a child who was counting his pennies asking the server what he could afford to buy with his limited funds. This was my opportunity. I asked him what he wanted to which he replied “fish and chips”. I instructed the server to give him his meal and I would pay for it. As his meal was being prepared I retold my story of the pinball machine. He listened, took his chips then left the shop without saying thank you or even acknowledging the new obligation that I was now passing on to him. I will never know whether my act of kindness will spur him on to passing it on but I live in hope.

    • Thank you so much for sharing your story TRJH! I truly appreciate your paying it forward to that little boy. Offering kindness without expecting anything in return is tough (for me). The example of my giving at the gas station brought a sincere thank you from the attendant. But other times I get no thank you or reaction at all. And for me, that has to be enough. It’s my kindness I have control over. I really don’t have control over much else. I believe you did a wonderful thing and that energy must get recycled in the world. I believe that. -TZB

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