Right now I’ve got a lot going on. Most of it stressful and stuff that I cannot discuss publicly. My level of anxiety is very high and I feel like I have an adrenaline rush much of the time. I am hoping that by the end of next week things will be less stressful and I’ll be able to regain my balance.
If you’ve read my blog before, you probably know that I am a big believer in Pay it Forward. When I was teaching, I spent time talking with students about ways they could influence the world around them and how sometimes little things could snowball into much larger things.
I truly believe that we can influence change by our actions. I believe that we can inspire others, we can show kindness, we can do little things that make a big difference.
One of the things that I try to teach my boys and tried to teach my students is that sometimes people need a little bit of help. It doesn’t hurt to provide that help because someday it might be you needing help.
In the past three days, I’ve had three strange experiences. And I’ve had three chances to Pay it Forward. I wanted to share them because I hope that, even in my time of extreme stress, I stopped and helped someone. I’m not special, I am like everyone else trying to get through the day. But, I work very hard to practice what I preach.
The first event was on Monday at the gas station. I was putting gas in my 1998 mini-van that needs a make-over. I was washing my front window and the man at the pump next to me came over and asked if I spoke “good English.” He was driving a shiny, new, expensive SUV. Through gestures, broken English and Korean (maybe?), he explained it was his son’s car. He showed me the gas tank cover and that he couldn’t get the cover open to put gas in the car. First, I looked in the car for a button that would release the cover. Nope. Next, I looked for the car manual. I found it in the second place I looked. I went to the index and found the page I needed and figured out how to open the cover. I was talking to the man, although he couldn’t understand me, through most of this and he would respond in a combination of English, gestures and another language. At this point, I had figured out that you needed to push the cover in and then it would pop out and open. I tried it and it worked. I showed the man and we both laughed because it was so simple, but we had so much trouble with it. After that he very tentatively touched my shoulder and thanked me. Then I left and he put gas in his car.
It struck me as a strange event because I was never concerned about someone stealing my wallet from my car or anything like that – of course, the car he was driving cost more than I made in a year as a teacher – but that wasn’t the point. I choose to help people rather than live in fear of being taken advantage of.
Whenever I can, I choose kindness. Unfortunately, it means that, frequently, I am taken advantage of and hurt because I believe in helping others. Being a kind person also means that I look for the best in people; I look for the best in them, even when they have given me reasons to believe in the worst. That doesn’t mean that I allow people to walk all over me as I do believe in the three strike rule. Although, based on my track record, I should probably go with the Chinese Proverb instead, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”
The second event happened later that day. I was at the grocery store waiting to pick up my prescriptions. I had my coupon binder open at the front of the cart and my printed shopping list from Bargain Blessings sitting angled on top of the binder. There was a lady in line behind me and something caught her eye – the Bargain Blessings banner on the top of the page. Of course, as I started talking to her about it, it was my turn. When I finished, I asked if she wanted me to wait until she was finished so I could explain it to her. She was extremely appreciative and took me up on my offer. I spent about 10 minutes talking with her about coupons and grocery store deals (I had 5 items in my cart that I would be getting for free). I answered her questions and gave her my printed list since I was finished with it and it had the web address on it. I also gave her my email address so she could contact me if she had any other questions. She thanked me several times.
It wasn’t a big deal as far as I was concerned. All I did was share some of my knowledge. If she uses it to save some money, then she’s ahead. If not, it doesn’t impact me in any way. It really comes down to treating others how I want to be treated. I would be very grateful if someone spent some time explaining something to me that I knew very little about and would help me. That’s what I did with the lady in the store. And I felt very good about it afterwards. If she emails me, I’ll respond.
Stay tuned – next time I’ll talk about the third event and give you my opinions about the events as I continue to reflect on them.
Has there ever been a time when a stranger did something for you that you considered a great kindness? Have you ever done anything kind for a stranger? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences about Paying it Forward and doing kind deeds.
Also, if you’ve never checked out the Bargain Blessings website, it is worth your time.