Paying It Forward Sometimes Comes Back Around

, , , , | Hopeless | February 20, 2019

(I work in concessions at a movie theater. I’m serving a customer at the beginning of the week on a slow day. She’s interested in some popcorn, but the prices are too high for her to consider buying some. It’s slow, and I’m feeling generous, so I give her some popcorn in a small bag at no cost. Touched by this gesture, she offers to pay me for the popcorn. The money is tempting, but I refuse, since I wanted to do something nice for her. I don’t necessarily want to be paid for trying to be nice. She won’t take no for an answer, though, so I get an idea.)

Me: “Pay it forward; do something nice for someone else.”

(She agrees and leaves the cinema. A few days later, I’m working concessions again when a teenage girl comes to order food, and she has her grandma with her. Turns out it’s the same lady from before! She recognizes me, although I don’t remember her. She turns to her grandchild, and says:)

Customer: “I have to tell you a story. This lady right here gave me some popcorn for free, and refused to take any money for it. Instead, she told me to pay it forward. I went and cried in my car afterward, and I’ve been telling my friends for a couple of days. I just wanted to say thank you for that.”

(I am overcome. I honestly didn’t think it would make all that much of a difference.)

Me: “Thank you, ma’am. I’m actually leaving for an internship in a few days, so I’m glad you told me this, and that I got a chance to hear how much it meant to you.”

Customer: “Oh, you’re leaving for an internship? In that case, take this, and have a good time!”

(She placed something in my hand, and I looked down to see a $20 bill! I opened my mouth to protest, but she was already gone. Wherever you are, thank you, ma’am!)

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