Paying the kindness forward

On a positive note... By Anne Blankenship

Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.

-Princess Diana

I’m always amazed by some of the acts of kindness I see in our community. People step up, share their talents, express their generosity, offer comfort, support and kind words to those in need.

It’s not just those well-publicized benefits, food drives or fundraisers. It’s those small, gentle, quiet random acts of kindness that often go unnoticed by most people. To the recipient, though, that kindness will be remembered and, quite often, paid forward to another deserving individual.

At a recent night at the movies, my husband and I were waiting in line to purchase a bag of popcorn. We noticed a young man a few spots ahead of us digging into his pockets to find enough change to buy a soda and a small popcorn. He finally stepped out of line, apparently unable to scrape together enough coins for the purchase. He slipped into the theater to find a seat. That was when the folks ahead of us bought a drink and a box of popcorn and asked the concession worker to take the items into the theater and give it to the young man. When we walked past to find out seats, the young man was very clearly enjoying his snacks.

My husband stopped to fill his tank with gas at a convenience store in Des Moines. When he went to pay for his gas and a cup of coffee, the clerk told him that someone had paid for his coffee. After a long day at work, and then the snarl of Des Moines commuter traffic, that simple gesture truly brightened his drive home.

I recently was on the receiving end of a very nice gesture. My husband and I stopped at a natural food store a few weeks ago. When we travel through central Iowa, we occasionally stop at the food co-op as they have several products we like. As I paid for my purchase, the clerk asked if I would be interested in becoming a member of the cooperative. I considered the idea but wanted to discuss the expense with my husband before committing to the membership.

Just about that time, a petite older lady stepped up next to me. She asked if I was considering the offer to join. I said I was but wanted to think about it.

“There’s nothing to think about,” she told me. “I’m buying your membership.”

She pulled out her credit card and asked the clerk to swipe it.

I was dumbfounded. This was so much more than a cup of coffee or a soda at the movies. I didn’t know the woman and she didn’t know me. But she said she was a strong supporter of the co-op and believed in its mission.

“I do this every once in awhile when the occasion arises. I like to do it,” she said. “It’s how I pay it forward.”

I told her it was too generous.

“It’s OK,” she said. “Now it’s your turn to pay it forward.”

I asked her name and she said, “That doesn’t matter. This is just something I like to do.”

It was a chance meeting and a wonderful act of kindness that I will long remember. And I will certainly find my own way to pay it forward.


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