All my life I've done random acts of kindness and never thought it was any big deal.  It was simply being kind, neighborly, giving, nurturing, nice.  It's the way we were raised to be.  I grew up poor, so I know what it's like to need and not have.  I also know about having the maturity to accept the consequences of your actions.


I put gas in my car and in order to get back to the office before lunch time ran out, instead of putting my credit card in my wallet like I should have, I slipped it between the pages of a book lying on the seat.  I took the book into the office with me as it was an office resource and put it on my desk for later use.  Consequence:  I forgot to get the credit card into my wallet.  At the Walgreen's register after work with a bill for $37-plus, I couldn't find my credit card and was aware that everyone in line behind me wanted to get home, too, and I had no cash, no checkbook.  Didn't need them, right, because I had my credit card.  RIIIIIIIGHT.


The man behind me handed HIS credit card to the cashier and said, "Put it all on this card. I'll help her out and we'll all get to go home.{"  I was astonished.


"That's not a nickel or a dime short, that's $37.00!" I protested.  "I should just come back tomorrow."


"No, you should let me do this and pay it forward to someone else.  I know it's not a nickel or a dime, but I can do it and I want to do it.  You'll pay it forward and we'll be even."  He was absolutely adamant, but I did get him to give me his business card so I could repay him.  Two days later I went to his office and repaid him.  "You still have to pay it forward," he insisted.  


I had already spent 25 years doing pro bono work in the community helping parents of children with disabilities with parenting and education issues.  I'm still doing it.  I took na risk and brought a homeless, pregnant woman and her husband to my home for three days until space in a shelter opened up for them.  I gave them money for baby things and baby food, diapers after the baby was born. Not as paying that kind stranger's act forward specifically, but because they needed help. Many other smaller things I've also done come to mind.  But I still remember that kind man's action in a way that makes me wonder...if you really need something and a stranger steps up to help, can you ever really weigh the significance of that and pay it back fully? 

Michele Williams

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