In the movie Pay It Forward, Kevin Spacey plays a social studies teacher who gives his students an assignment to come up with a way to change the world for the better. One young student (Haley Joel Osment), deciding to “pay favors forward,” ends up not only helping his struggling single mother, but also creates a nationwide movement that compels people to serve each other by performing random acts of kindness.
Watching the news can get depressing — full of tragic stories, wars, and crime. Sometimes, it can be too easy to focus on the negative and miss out on some of the happier tales of humanity. Many times these stories happen very quietly, but their effects reverberate loudly in the lives they touch.
Here are three “Pay it Forward” stories that will not only melt your heart, but may also make you think twice about that person who’s standing right behind you in line at the checkout counter.
1. “I Will Be Paying For All Of It”
Our first “Pay it Forward” story happened in a DownEast Basics clothing store where a young woman, who was preparing to serve a religious mission in Korea, was purchasing clothes for her trip. The employees helped her try on clothes until she eventually picked out a year’s supply of clothes for her upcoming journey.
Since this future missionary had so many clothes that needed to be rung up, one of the employees started asking her questions about her mission to pass the time. Another shopper, a mother of three young girls, was being rung up at the next register and couldn’t help but overhear the conversation between the young woman and the store employee.
This woman leaned over and informed the employee that she would be paying for this young missionary’s entire order of clothing. When the girl tried to insist that she didn’t have to, the woman insisted and emphasized that she served a mission once too and that she was being a great example to her three daughters by going on a mission and serving others.
The two employees, the mother of the three girls and the future missionary were all in tears as the final price tag came to be more than $500. A kind stranger paid it forward to someone who would ultimately go on to benefit the people of Korea. One of the employees that witnessed it later said, “There truly are amazing people out there.”
2. “You Don’t Owe Anything”
Our second “Pay it Forward” story happened to a woman, who just a few months before her 25th wedding anniversary found herself alone and in shambles after her husband left her to start a new life. The months were hard and painful — not only did she have to adjust to a new life of being single, but she also had to bear the burdens of the house payments and other bills. As a struggling hairdresser, she soon found herself in a place where bills were piling up and staying afloat was almost impossible.
One day, she showed up at a local grocery store pharmacy to get a much-needed prescription for herself. Without insurance, she would have to pay the full premium for the medications, which would most likely be upwards of $70. When she returned to pick up the order, the woman at the counter rung her up and told her the price. As the downtrodden woman started pulling out her wallet, it was then when the pharmacist quietly said, “Actually, you don’t owe anything.
“Someone right before you left some money and said that they wanted to pay for the next person’s prescription that came along.” The woman purchasing the medicine was so grateful she was brought to tears. Even though her burdens were many, one kind person made a difference in her life that day by making such a selfless and generous donation.
3. “Can I Speak To A Manager?”
Our last inspiring example of paying it forward involves a young couple that went out to dinner at one of their favorite restaurants. A new waitress greeted them at their table and as the evening passed, they soon discovered that she had only been working there for two weeks and was still learning the ropes of her new job.
At the end of the meal, the couple decided that they would like to speak with a manager regarding their service. As they approached the manager, you could visibly see the manager tense up — she was all too familiar with situations where a customer complains about their meal and expects something in return to compensate.
To her surprise, the couple just wanted to let the manager know what a wonderful job the new waitress had done and that they really appreciated the service. The manager was definitely taken aback by the comments as a huge smile came across her face. It was definitely a change of pace to hear someone so happy that they would take the time to let her know about it. It’s easy to complain, but how often do we take the time out of our day to let someone know when they’re doing a great job?
Paying it forward doesn’t always have to be a grand gesture and involve money. It can be as simple as cutting grass for a neighbor or even giving a compliment to someone when they least expect it. It’s amazing how happiness can have a contagious, rippling effect throughout our everyday lives. A helping hand or even a smile can help turn someone’s day around. Thursday is officially “Pay It Forward Day” — will you be joining the “kindness coalition?” Here are some “Pay It Forward” ideas to inspire you.
Photo by @G_i_v_e_a_w_a_y
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