Pay It Forward With Kindness

By Stephen C. Schultz


I walked in the door at home after a long day of work. I made my way to the kitchen when my cell phone rang. It was my wife calling from the doctors office. She mentioned that my 14 year old daughter had an infection and needed some antibiotics. She told me that the doctors office had just now called in the prescription to a Walgreen's store down the street. I wasn’t excited to leave the house again, but turned around, grabbed my keys, slipped my shoes back on and headed out the door.


I pulled in the parking lot and got out of my car. My short walk across the parking lot was met with a welcome blast of cool air as I stepped through the automatic doors. Even though the kids are back in school, it is still summer as far as the weather goes. So, once inside, I made my way to the back corner of the store where the pharmacy is...halfheartedly noticing the non-descript music playing overhead.




As I rounded the corner of the isle, I was met with a line of about 10 people. I stepped through the line with brief eye contact and a soft “excuse me” to the lady in line with her young daughter. As I sauntered to the back of the line, I tried to assess the circumstances that would create this back up at the pharmacy. I thought to myself that maybe these folks were just getting off work like I was and stopping to get their respective medicine on the way home.


I stood there fidgeting and mumbling under my breathe a conversation with myself about how I always seem to be in the long line. How restaurants never seem too busy until I choose to walk through the door...and once inside the restaurant there is suddenly an hour wait! I thought how cars on the freeway all around me seem to be moving and I am stuck in the one lane that is at a dead stop! Don’t even get me started on the grocery store!!!


So, after about 15 minutes, which is an eternity when you’re standing in a line, I noticed that there was another lady at the counter who seemed to have a lot of items she was trying to purchase. The lovely lady behind the counter helping her, was trying her best to make the number of items being purchased match the amount of money she had. There were personal hygiene items being subtracted and then added back on. There were a couple of clothing items and items for her two children standing there next to her. It was obvious she struggled to add in her head the cost of the items she wanted and needed. She only had a twenty dollar bill and the items continued to add up more than $20.00. This was the hold up! This was the reason for the long line.


Then I saw something unexpected. A woman in line, the same woman I stepped past when I first arrived, moved to the counter. She mentioned in a whispered tone that she would be willing to help. She pulled out her credit card and had the Walgreen's pharmacist behind the counter ring up all the items. The total was $45 and some change. The lady and her daughters then thanked this woman, gathered their bags and walked away.


This was one of those moments in time that bolsters your faith in humanity. It also provided an opportunity for me to evaluate what I would have done. Would I have stepped forward and helped this lady by purchasing her items for her? Do I pay attention to those around me, or am I too involved in my own thoughts and tasks? How often do we find ourselves in a situation like this to assist others in a kind and compassionate manner, quietly reaching out to total strangers in a time of need? May we all be on the lookout for that opportunity to “Pay it forward with kindness”.

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