Paying It Back And Paying It Forward

, , , , , | Hopeless | April 28, 2018

(It’s just before Christmas, and I am in a particularly bad spot. I can’t pay my bills, and every penny counts in trying to get by. As I am walking into work one day, a man calls across the street to me.)

Man: “Hey! Hey, miss! Do you have a second?”

Me: *looking around, confused* “Um, sure. What do you need?”

Man: “I’m going to be honest with you here. I just got out of jail, and I can’t find work. I have no money, and I just need a little something for gas if you can spare it.”

Me: “I’m really sorry, but I don’t even have cash for the tolls to get home right now. I can’t really help you out.”

(The man stares at me for a moment, and I am getting worried because I think he’ll be upset. Then, he smiles the most knowing smile I’ve ever seen and reaches into his jacket to pull out a couple singles.)

Man: “Here. You take this for the tolls to get home. Merry Christmas, and I hope things work out for you.”

(The entire way home that day I cry my eyes out, both overwhelmed by his kindness and upset at myself for not getting the chance to thank him. A few months later, I am doing much better, and I happen to see that same man walking down the street.)

Me: “Sir! Sir, do you have a second?”

Man: “Sure, young lady. What can I help you with?”

Me: “A while ago, you helped me out when I had absolutely nothing. I haven’t forgotten what you did for me, and I’ve kept some money in my purse in case I ever saw you again. Here. I want you to have this.”

Man: “I’m glad that I could help you when you needed it, but I can’t take that from you. I’ve managed to find a job, and I’m able to pay for my bills and my gas. I wouldn’t dream of taking what I don’t need. You go ahead and keep that in your purse for the next person you see who doesn’t have money for the tolls to get home.”

(Once again, he gave me the warmest smile I have ever seen, and he walked off. I still think about that man and the lessons he taught me. Even writing this now makes me tear up and be reminded that truly good people do exist in the world.)

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