Monday, January 12, 2009

paying it forward, an update

I've hestitated to post this entry because I didn't want to appear as though I was bragging. But, I did want to update the universe on my promise to pay it forward, and more importantly, teach my children about service and charity and helping out our fellow man.

You remember my post a couple of weeks ago about the nice family in our ward who gave us heaps of clothes, just at the exact time (almost to the minute) that we needed them? And about the sweet lady who gave us $ in the Basha's parking lot because she's not able to spoil her grandkids enough because they live too far away?

Well we had an interesting opportunity a week ago when again I was at a grocery store with all of my kids. Right there, that tells you how much of a glutton for punishment I am. Going in, I always think, we can do this, the kids will be well-behaved, I'm just getting such-and-such and we'll be in and out in 10 minutes. Well, to be honest, it wasn't that bad this time. I had four bouquets of flowers in my hands (for a funeral, a new baby/mommy, and two birthdays) and was in line with my kids (the youngest of whom was touching anything and everything within reachable distance, you know what I'm talking about) when I noticed that there was a problem with the woman ahead of us regarding her credit card.

Basically, she couldn't find it, and had no other means to pay. She was an older lady--I'd put her at at least 70--and clearly distraught over not being able to find her card in her wallet. I heard her ask if the store could set her basket full of now-bagged groceries aside so she could go back home and get her checkbook. She said it would take at least half an hour.

At this point, I just got that feeling, you know the one, my heart was hammering in my chest, my hands were shaking a bit, the adrenaline was flowing, and I just had the feeling that I should offer to pay for her groceries so she could be on her way. I considered it for a couple of seconds while I watched the bagboy start to take her cart to the back of the store. I looked at the cash register and noticed that her amount due was about three times what I was buying, but finally I made up my mind and asked the cashier if I could pay for her groceries.

She looked genuinely shocked. "You sure?" she asked with incredulity.

I assured her I was and swiped my debit card. The cashier was flustered and at first didn't even know what to do--she didn't even give me a receipt, she kind of stammered and stuttered...then she finally said thank you, and started to alert management that she needed the older woman's cart back and why. Then she flagged down the other woman and explained to her what had taken place.

The older woman still seemed in a daze. She glanced back at me quickly (I was actually embarassed so I didn't meet her gaze for more than a second) and then she reached for her cart and left. She didn't thank me, which I was a bit surprised by, but I know she had her mind on other things. I've lost my credit card before and it is a horrible feeling. No doubt she was retracing her steps in her mind, trying to figure out where she'd used it last and lost it.

Well a gentleman from management came up to my cashier, looked at me, and said, "Is this her?" The cashier nodded. He thanked me for my generosity and said he wanted to give me 10% off my purchase. I assured him that this wasn't necessary and not the reason I had helped out. "It's a good time of year for service, right?"

He said he knew that, and again thanked me, gushing a bit about how nobody helps strangers these days and what a nice thing it was, swiped a badge and took 10% off my order.

I can't tell you how good I felt--not because of the 10%--but just from knowing I had helped someone, somewhat anonymously, just on the spur of the moment because the spirit moved me to do so. I didn't do it for reward or acknowledgement, I did it to help out a lady in need and I felt such a sweet spirit of peace and happiness come over me.

On our way out to the car, we actually passed by the lady. She stopped as she got to our van.

"Are you the lady who was behind me in line?"

I told her I was.

She simply said "Thankyou...I don't know where I left my card," and kept pushing her cart onward.

When we were all situated in the car, I made sure to tell the boys why I had done what I did, and how good it had made me feel, and that I hoped they would look for and use opportunities to help others, whether by monetory means, service, time, talents, testimony, whatever, when moved by the spirit, to act on it.

I appreciate the examples of others who pay it forward and help out others in need, and those that do random acts of service and make this world a better place. I hope to continue doing so!

15 comments:

tif-do said...

When I was a younger mom... just starting out with Wyatt we had very very little money. I was on WIC... and it embaressed me beyond belief to have assistance but what do you do, my kid needed milk. Anyhoo, I had went to the store to pick up my weekly WIC items and when I got up to pay, the cashier said that my voucher wasn't valid. I was even more embarassed because a line was forming behind me and they could all see that I was having trouble. I looked in my purse but obviously didn't have any money, or I wouldn't have been on WIC. With tears in my eyes, I was just about to walk out, and the man right behind me touched my shoulder and said "don't worry I got this." It touched my heart to know that a complete stranger would help me out like that, as I'm sure it touched the lady you helped. You did a good thing!

Anonymous said...

That was a great story and very good that you explained to the boys what happend. I hope they can remember it and learn from it. I remember on my mission not once but twice something similar happend. Once we were in a store buying groceries and someone anonymously picked up the tab and once in a fast food joint. So I've wanted to do that for the missionaries ever since.......

B

keri said...

That's a great story Amie, thanks for sharing and reminding us all to pay things forward. And what a great lesson for your sons, I am sure that it is one that they will all remember! Your a great Mom! And a good example.

Christine #2 said...

:)

What a great example of charity!

leaner said...

That story made me cry- in a good way.

Did you know it is national delurking day? Look it up. People are posting about it on their blogs...

leaner said...

Did I ever tell you about the time that someone picked up our tab at a restaurant? And without a word they just slipped out telling the waiter to thank Will for his service (he was in uniform.) Every time I start feeling like no one cares about military members I remember that day. (I do think I posted about that on my blog.)

Kade, Amber & Brekkyn said...

Good for you! What a great example to your boys! And you know the angels chalked a good mark next to your name in Heaven. =)

Scribbit said...

I'm glad to did post, it's a great story.

April Hall said...

That is such a great thing to do Amie! :)

wittygal said...

Kudos to AMIE!! So since everyone is sharing stories I will tell you mine. Once while I was at Sonic this creepy guy in a Diesel Truck gave the car hop money for my lunch and I was like "NO WAY". She talked me into taking it and I prayed he would not follow me out of the parking lot. Well nothing to brag about but thats my story!!

Lorie said...

Thanks for sharing your experience!!

Sherman said...

somewhere in the background i can hear kd lang singing "calling all angels"...

The Bluths said...

Don't lie, you know you did it for the extra 10% off...

jinxi~ aka angi said...

Amazing. Simply amazing. You set a good example Momma! :)

Jessica said...

What a blessing to your children to witness such a Christlike act of kindness. I know you did not post to brag about yourself, but thank you for posting and sharing a random act of kindness that might just keep on rolling as others remember your story.