When I was growing up, my mom would often send my dad out to pick something up from the grocery store or a restaurant or wherever. I can remember my dad coming home either with the wrong item claiming they didn’t have the thing she wanted or they were out of it. This always ended in disappointment and my dad being sent out to retrieve something else, this time with a specific item written down on a small slip of paper to jog his memory when he got to the store if need be.
Anyway, I was working the front register at Wendy’s the other night when this older gentleman came in with a slip of paper in his hand. He looked up at the menu, studied it for a moment, and then his face fell. He looked at me and said “Oh no, you changed your salads!” In fact, we had just put our new salads on the menu that very morning. I apologized and asked which salad he was looking for, perhaps one of our new ones was similar and he would like that instead. No, no, it was for his wife and she specifically wanted THAT salad…. my heart immediately went out to this poor guy. I suggested that if he had a cell phone he might want to give her a jingle. He said he’d run out to his car and be right back.
After I helped the next customer I looked up and the man was back at my counter looking worriedly at the menu some more. I asked him how it went and he informed me that he had run out of OnStar minutes and couldn’t get in touch with her. I asked him to wait a minute and went to the back room to fetch my cell phone. Now, normally I wouldn’t let a customer use my cell phone, and when my mom reads this she’ll probably be thinking she needs to have a word with me for letting someone else use my precious minutes that I share with the rest of the family! But I really felt bad for this guy because of course I knew how things would end up if he went home empty-handed or with the wrong salad.
He finally got in touch with her and ordered one that she selected from our new list that he patiently read to her over the phone. He thanked me profusely, asked my name, told me he worked for a food company and that he wanted to give me something. When was my next shift? So I told him I worked the same shift the next night. Lo and behold, the next evening he came in with a coupon for a FREE packet of Pillsbury Bite-Sized Brownies.
So tonight I decided to redeem my coupon. I also remembered I had a code for a free Redbox movie. Free brownie bites AND a free movie? Yes, please! After I checked out from Redbox I turned around and saw a girl about my age standing behind me. Figuring she would appreciate saving a buck, I gave her the same code and told her it was for a free movie.
As I walked back up the hill I thought about “paying it forward” and how I had given the man at Wendy’s my cell phone just to be nice and got something in return when I wasn’t expecting to. I thought about how I had just given the movie code to the next girl in line just to be nice and sort of chuckled to myself and wondered if anything nice was headed my way. I decided I would blog about it when I got home.
Already having made this decision to blog I stopped by my mailbox to pick up whatever might be in there and groaned when I saw my first electric bill had arrived. I knocked on my landlord’s door because the first half of the month would be in her name and if I received my bill, she probably received the other half. When I explained myself to her she smiled and told me she had received it and not to worry about it, she was going to pay it for me. I tried to convince her otherwise but she shooed me away.
Talk about paying it forward! Completely unexpected!
Have YOU paid it forward lately? If not, consider the challenge extended!
**Update: Those bite-sized brownies are dangerously delicious! You’ve been warned!