Colleen, one of our store employees in town, told me that a couple of weeks ago, the morning after we received close to two feet of snow, she experienced a stranger’s kindness while shoveling snow. A young man walked up, relieved her of her shovel, and spent the next 45 minutes clearing the sidewalk. But what really spoke to Colleen was this …
He left, walking in the same direction he’d come from. In other words, it wasn’t so random, it was intentional. Thank you, Mr. Stranger!
That same week, Carol, lead graphic designer at my farm, had about 2 feet of very wet, heavy snow in her driveway with a waist-high snowplow berm blocking access to it.
It wasn’t going anywhere without some help. So she called a local excavator, Kurt, who moonlights in the winter plowing snow. She’d met him a couple of years ago when he did some digging in her front yard to fix a broken waterline. To her surprise, he remembered her by name, and even though a nice conversation ensued, his minimum charge was more than Carol could pay.
That night when she got home, she parked about a block away and trudged through the slush and mush to her back door, where she was astounded to see that her driveway had been plowed. Her first thought was that she and Kurt must have had a misunderstanding … that her “thank you” had meant that he should go ahead and plow and she’d pay his minimum charge. Oh well, she thought, it was nice to get my parking space back. When she got inside, she had a voice mail from Kurt: “I was in the neighborhood this afternoon, so I went ahead and plowed your driveway, as well as the street parking in front of the house. I don’t expect you to pay me … just pay it forward to someone else who needs help sometime.”
Carol called him immediately, intending to thank him and insist on payment. But he wouldn’t hear of it. He was just pleased to have helped someone who needed something he had to offer. He did have one thing she could do, however, if she wanted. It turns out his mother loves our magazine and if Carol would send him the newest copy, he’d deliver it to his mother. How in the world did he even know that she designed and co-edited a magazine?! She said she’d do him one better and buy his mother a subscription, still only a fraction of what his snowplow services are. His mother would be tickled, he was tickled, Carol was tickled, and no doubt, her yet-to-be, pay-it-forward recipient(s) will be tickled too. And she’ll be singing Kurt’s praises to everyone she knows, paying his generosity forward in word and deed.
But wait, I think I know how this may have come to be. This fall, once the weather had turned cold, Carol was stopped in traffic because of road construction. As she sat there in her warm car, she watched one of the workers blow on her hands repeatedly to warm them. Once traffic started up again, Carol slowed to a stop by the woman and handed her gloves out the window to the worker. With a big smile, she put them on and Carol drove off. What goes around comes around.