Pay It Forward Never Needs To Go On Sale

, , , , , , | Hopeless | August 1, 2018

(This happens over 25 years ago, when I am just a little girl, probably about seven or eight. I am a big bookworm, and always get a certificate to our local bookstore for birthdays and other occasions. These are always special occasions for me, because as a single mom, my mother doesn’t have much money to spare, even working double shifts more often than not. I am at the till by myself while my mom browses, with three books I’m going to buy with my gift certificate. In line behind me is a guy probably about ten years older than me. I am leery of him for no particular reason other than that he is a “big kid” and I am shy and reserved.)

Cashier: “That will be [amount a lot more than my certificate has].”

Me: “Oh… I don’t have that much. I thought these were on sale.”

(I point to a big sign, no more than a few feet away in front of a shelf.)

Cashier: *dismissively* “It’s an old sign. I haven’t gotten around to taking it down.”

(I’m too awkward and anxious to do anything other than try to pick which books I’m putting back, feeling flustered and embarrassed.)

Cashier: *impatiently* “Just go find your mom and get her to pay the difference!”

Me: “She can’t! This is all I can have!”

(I’m feeling very embarrassed now, because how little money my mother and I have has always been a sore spot and something I feel ashamed of. Suddenly the teen leans past me, holding out some money.)

Teen: “Hey, I’ll pay for it. Don’t worry about it. Kids should be reading more, anyway. Oh, and let me get that for you.”

(He makes a show out of plucking the little plastic sale sign off the shelf and handing it to the cashier with a smile.)

Teen: “No more misunderstandings. Right?”

(Looking annoyed and embarrassed, the cashier rang me up. I thanked the teen profusely; he just waved me off with a smile and told me to pay it forward one day. Looking back, it might have been a small gesture, but it meant a lot to me to have a complete stranger have my back like that and show me a token of kindness. Ever since then, decades later, I have tried to do the same when I’m able and the opportunity arises — be it for groceries or whatever — because I remember how that felt, and I hope it makes other people feel and do the same. It may seem minor, but minor kindnesses add up, and hopefully lead to others like them.)

1 Thumbs
795
VOTES