I wanted to share this story, really so I don't forget it. It reminded me that there is human decency in this world, because it is easy to see all that is indecent.
I was at CVS several weeks ago, buying milk and toothpaste. The milk we needed, the toothpaste I was getting was because I had a coupon, making it free. Anyway, I go to pay and give the coupon first, and it wouldn't come off the bill. It wasn't expired and it was the right kind, it just wouldn't work. I rifled through my purse to find another coupon for it bc I thought I had one. Seeing a short line form behind me, I told the cashier to forget it, I don't want the toothpaste, but could I have my coupon back. The cashier wasn't on my wavelength, and was going to get the manager to come over, and I said a few times, "no, please, just take it off, I'll come back." Anyway, the man behind me said, "I'm sorry to butt in, but can I treat you to that milk." I didn't understand, and then his eyes told me he thought the problem was that I couldn't pay for the milk. It took me back - I've never had anyone say something like that to me. I quickly explained I meant the toothpaste, and that I didn't need the toothpaste, and I definitely had money for the milk! He said, "well, I wasn't much listening but I see the 2 gallons I figured you have kids at home and in this economy, we gotta help each other out, ya know?" I thanked him several times, and said I hope he finds someone who needs him to treat them to some milk.
How many people go out of their way on a daily basis for others? How many people surprise a stranger with random acts of kindness? Doing so takes thought, time, and sometimes not knowing their reaction means taking a risk. I remember one time taking a meal to a neighbor down the street who had just had a baby. I didn't know them, I just saw the stork sign. While my little ones napped, I made a full meal and when they woke I put them in the double stroller and walked the meal down. She opened the door, gave me the strangest look, and took the meal with a quick thanks. I walked away wondering if she really might throw it away by the way she looked at me. But I knew in my heart that I was doing something I should.
Treating others with respect, kindness and grace is a gift you give yourself, too. Doesn't it feel good to know you're making a difference in someone's day - maybe even their life?
I don't know that man who offered to pay for my milk - but someday I really hope to be in a situation where I am behind a mom who might need me to pay for her milk, diapers, whatever. And I promise, I'll tell her I'm paying it forward, and that man's kindness will be honored.