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