The philosophical expression of "pay it forward" is used to describe the concept of third party beneficiary in which a creditor who offers the debtor the option of "paying" the debt forward by lending it to a third person instead of paying it back to the original creditor. Debt and payments can be monetary or by good deeds. In sociology, this concept is called "generalized reciprocity" or "generalized exchange". (Wikipedia)
Yesterday as I was driving along the Rainbow Interchange from I-95 onto I-595, approaching the Turnpike ramp, I saw an object bouncing on the road. I did my best to avoid it, managing to drive over it in between the tires, but then I heard a clank and then a dragging sound. "*!#&*!" Is the best way to describe my initial thought, but after a few feet of the thing dragging and not breaking free, I pulled over along the side of the road. In a previous post, (I think), I wrote about my silly Mini Cooper S that I am currently leasing as a vehicle for work. I guess statistically your odds of being hit by flying debris increases as your miles on the road increase, but, I have to say in the 7 months that I have had Coop, he must be a magnet for flying debris, or he must have a huge "Hey I'm a Lease" sign on him. I digress.
So after I pulled over, I discovered that the object was part of a wire shelving unit, about 4 feet long and the corner had twisted around the axial of my back tire. Well after a few minutes of me trying to get it loose (oh did I mention that the ramp was moving as the 18 wheelers went by and it was starting to rain?), I yielded defeat and was about to call for road side assistance, when I saw that ahead of me a large electrical truck had pulled over and was now backing up. The individual was a bulky bald headed guy. Perhaps if it had been late at night, I would not have been as thrilled that he had stopped to assist me. After he attempted a few tugs, he went back to his work truck and came back with wire cutters and pliers. Now, I am a believer in Karma, but seriously folks, what are the chances that the individual who choose to stop and help me actually had the tools to truly help.
When he first walked over he asked me if I had a flat tire, he probably wished it had been, because that may have been easier. Before, I continued, you should note that I reviewed the specification for a Mini Cooper S and the ground clearance for Coop is 5.1 inches. So this big guy had to shimmied under Coop in between the back tire and the two tail pipes that come out in the center (and I believe at one point he burned his arm on the tail pipe). Once he was done, I tried to give him some money for helping me but he refused, he said, "I didn't stop for that, I stopped because you looked like you needed help." He was standing by his truck putting his tools away as I drove away, I waved and mouthed my thanks again and it dawned on me that I did not even get his name.
Later that day after telling DH about my adventure, he told me that I needed to pay it forward, and thanks to Google, I found this on the wikiHow website:
How to Pay It Forward
The world can seem like an unfriendly, threatening place, yet we all want safety, health, and happiness for ourselves and our loved ones. How can one ordinary person -- you or me -- make a positive difference in this world? One way is the practice "paying it forward." While the steps might be simple, the outcome could change the world.
1. Be attentive wherever you are for opportunities to help someone. Perhaps you have an elderly or disabled neighbor who is too proud to ask for help with their yard work or maybe you're in a restaurant and see someone who looks like they could use some kind stranger to pay for their meal. You can change people's attitudes about the world through your unobtrusive acts of kindness.
2. Do something nice for someone you don't know (or don't know very well). It should be something significant, and not for a person from whom you expect a good deed -- or anything at all, for that matter -- in return.
3. Spread the word. If the person thanks you and wants to "repay" you (that is, pay it "back"), let them know that what you'd really like is for them to pay it "forward" -- you'd like them to do something nice for three people they don't know, and ask those three people to do something nice for three more people. The idea is to consciously increase the goodness of the world.
4. Pay it forward. When you notice that somebody has done something nice for you, make a note in your mind to practice three acts of kindness towards other people, as described in Step 2.
As the Holiday season is upon us and the financial crises looms above us, I think that many of us lose site of what is truly important, which is making a positive impact on this world. For those that know me well, they are laughing at that statement because I think I can be best described as stand offish and the last 12 years in HR has not help my tolerance of people, so this task before me is going to be a personal challenge. As I was surfing the topic, I found a few Pay It Forward Sites that are making a positive impact:
http://www.payitforwardmovement.com/ - The purpose of the Pay It Forward Movement website is to bring together, in one place, as many real stories as we can. This serves several purposes. It helps the cynics see that Pay It Forward really is working, not just around the United States but around the world. It brings much-deserved recognition to those doing the work, and puts the results of their efforts out in the open so others can be inspired. It's also a source of some good news for a change, a way to renew your faith in human nature.
http://www.payitforwardproject.org/ - Our Project has been established to assist in rebuilding the lives, self worth, and the spirit of individuals living in developing nations.
http://www.payitforwardhouse.org/ - PAY-IT-FORWARD HOUSE is a charitable and benevolent not-for-profit corporation organized to provide rest and respite in a comfortable home-like environment for family members and friends of patients at Kindred Hospital in Sycamore, Illinois.
Well, I am going to sign off as I have to find someone to help...so that I can Pay It Forward.