Pay Up, Forward





“Paying it forward” is something I want desperately to perfect.  By nature, I’m a selfish person.  I get stuck in E’s world.

{Which, by the way, is an awesome world to be stuck in.  Lots of colorful daydreams, lots of started projects that never get finished, TONS of unicorns, and even more sugar.  Pretty amaze.} 

I have my routines, my habits.  I go about my daily grind (heh, grind) with my head down, just trying to get my daughter to school on time and do what I have to do to get by until I can pick up my babies from within the walls of the guilt-inducing, pseudo-school environment called daycare.

I rush home to get them fed, rush upstairs to get them bathed, then I either rush downstairs so they can tell Dad good night and rush back upstairs for story time/bed time, or he’s splitting bedtime duty with me and I get to skip that last trip downstairs.  I then rush to my bathroom to put my PJs on, wash off my makeup, hopefully take a shower, maybe brush my teeth, and go to sleep.  Then I wake up and do it all over again.

But every once in a while I’m interrupted.  Every once in a while a piece of humanity inserts itself into my routine and I’m reminded how amazing and thoughtful other people can be.  And I’m reminded of how thoughtful I should be and how I always fall short.

A few years ago I was in line at the drive thru at Starbucks on my way to work.  I ordered and pulled forward to the window.  When I took out my wallet the guy on the other side of the window said that the person behind me requested to pay for my drink.

Huh.  That’s odd.  Odd in a nice way.  Odd in the kind of way that I automatically felt inspired.  The barista handed me the drink and I pulled forward into a parking spot so I could put the straw in the cup without swerving into oncoming traffic on Peachtree.

While I was sitting there, a car pulled up beside me and rolled down the window.  It was my sister’s boyfriend.  He was the culprit.  The thoughtful person who saw me ahead and had the forethought to put forth effort which happened to make my day.

I thanked him profusely; I was even a little embarrassed because stuff like that happens so infrequently that I was unsure of how to respond with the appropriate amount of “thank-you”s so as not to appear cray-zee.

“I’ll pay it forward”, I decided.

The next day I actually went inside Starbucks.  It was almost my turn to order and I realized that I needed to be more prepared!  I couldn’t just turn to the person behind me and say, “hey, I’m going to pay for your drink.  You can’t say no.  I’m paying it forward.”  No, that would defeat the purpose.  AND that would be super awkward.

I couldn’t elbow my way between the person in front of me and the cashier.  THAT would be rude.  AAAAAnd even more awkward.  I could give the barista a $20 and tell her to use it until it’s gone.  But then some poor soul would be told “Hey, see that girl over there?  She paid for all but $.02 of your drink.  You owe me $.02.”

Um… thanks for nothing, weirdo!

You see my conundrum…

When I’m in a drive thru, I’m always wrapped up in what EYE am doing.  How much change can I find in my purse so that I don’t have to put this on my card?  Why have I been listening to Alvin & the Chipmunks since I dropped Roman off at daycare (20 minutes ago)?  Did I remember my phone?  Did I remember my gym bag?  What happened to the Versace sunglasses I lost 5 years ago?  Wouldn’t it be cool if they just randomly showed up one day??  By the time I get to the window I’m totally discombobulated.

Lately I’ve felt that my life is stagnate.  I’m going to work every day to a job that is just a job.  While I am grateful for it, I don’t make a difference.  I’m replaceable.  If I didn’t show up tomorrow, people would wonder, maybe even create a story about why.  Then post my job to be filled by someone else.

What legacy will I leave behind?  Am I showing my kids how to love?  How to be selfless?  The answers I have now are not the answers I want to have tomorrow.

So, in an effort to be an active member of humanity, I hereby vow to pay it forward at least once a week.  Hey, I gotta start somewhere.

In the meantime, I’d love “Pay it Forward” suggestions/stories so I can be better prepared this go round and I don’t have to admit defeat yet again, mumbling, “well, that didn’t go so well at all…” on my way back to my car.

pay it forward


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4 thoughts on “Pay Up, Forward

  1. I’ve paid it forward several times at Starbucks. One was a miserable, cold rainy Monday. I did it to bring cheer to both me and the person in receipt of the drink. If you’re in the drive thru, and someone is right behind you, just let the barista know you want to pay for the person behind you. Super easy!!

  2. I buy an extra coffee from Starbucks and then leave it on the desk of a coworker at the office. Or give it to the security guard at the front of the building. I love seeing their surprised (thankful) face.

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