I’m pretty sure I’ve written about “paying it forward” previously… didn’t really want to bring it up but then… I just might. You know why? Because it’s a gift that just never stops giving.
I was stuck at a parking gate last night and I didn’t have cash (who carries it anyway? Apparently, it’s wise to carry at least some…). So I pulled out my cellphone and tried to make payment using a digital wallet. Just that the damn thing didn’t work. Perhaps it’s the Android (yeah, I switched… will share about my escapades later ;-)) version of the app that was acting crazy. Honestly, I didn’t have a clue.
The gate attendant was super-patient with me. He signed the cars behind me to move to the other gate. And after several unsuccessful tries, he asked me to pull over the car and withdraw cash from the ATM on the 5th floor of the mall I was in. Just the thought of going through the process… was dreadful! A bunch of security checks followed by waiting for the elevators and trying my luck at an ATM inside one of the busiest malls in India isn’t an ideal strategy you should try on a Friday evening.
He sensed my concern and asked me if I use the alternative digital wallet that was acceptable. I didn’t. He yanked out his cell phone and made the payment himself! And let me go! I thanked him profusely for his generosity and asked him to share his number or that I could pay him back once I reach home. He promptly wrote his number and handed me the piece of paper with a smile and wished me a “great evening!”
I reached home and realized — it’s the damn Android app! I uninstalled it and reinstalled again… and still no luck! As of now, I haven’t paid him back… but I plan to visit the mall again. Just to hand him what’s due! (I’m hoping that the app works… but then, some things are truly worth the effort. Especially considering that it’s been more than 24 hours and he’s not expecting me to pay him back… and is probably thinking of me a pathetic (cashless) sucker!)
Nonetheless, on my way to home this evening I stopped at a traffic light, waiting for it to turn green and this little shabby kid knocked on my window. I looked at him in the eye… he gestured the universal “I’m hungry” sign… I looked at the box containing a chocolate cheesecake brownie that my better half couldn’t finish and asked me to keep it in the fridge. I looked at the kid again… and couldn’t hold myself back. I handed him the box and drove off.
My kids can wait for some other time perhaps… someone else certainly needed it more than they did. I felt great (yeah, I know I’m not winning a Nobel prize for that!) but there’s one thing I’m absolutely certain about — if that gate attendant hadn’t been generous last night, I would’ve still been so bitter. Almost certain that I would’ve brushed past that kid at the stop light this evening. Or maybe I would have. There’s no way to know.
But generosity always humbles me. It makes me think how kind we can be to each other, even strangers, and how much change can we bring together if only we care.