Paying it Forward

Today I encountered a great teacher who reminded me how powerful it is to listen and to be there for someone. It was a gorgeous day out and I had some time on my hands before my next appointment, so I walked down to the shopping center to get a cup of coffee and do some errands. The best part about my walks, I always meet someone new, exchange a few smiles or laughs with people who fill me up. 

As I got closer to my destination, a van pulled up and a tall, middle-aged man got out. He seemed a bit frenzied but greeted me with a kind smile and a hello nonetheless. I noticed he left his van running and thought; perhaps he is in a rush. He asked if I was going into the coffee shop and I said yes.  He then asked if I would watch his truck. Huh, I thought.  I just told him I was going into the coffee shop. As if maybe he forgot, I half jokingly said, why don’t you turn off your truck!  He laughed, dropped his head and said I am afraid it will not start again and the story started to unravel. At first my antenna went up and I thought, oh no, I am not being roped into this one. I say that because in general people tend to tell me stuff, sometimes too much. Therefore, I said, I will listen to your problems if you will listen to mine. Boy did he laugh!

We engaged in conversation as we walked in the same direction. He said, come on Amy; let me buy you a cup of coffee. I agreed and as we continued to talk, I realized the man really needed someone to listen to him. He was on-edge and anxious and I could feel it. In addition, he just divulged he had come from having a drink; it was only 10:30 am.

It turns out he is a contractor and this was the second van that broke down on him today. On top of that, it was payday, he was out collecting past due accounts and no one could pay. One person needed three more days, the other person never showed and the last person wrote a bad check for 3k.  Now he was worried about the ramifications: how would he pay his people, what about the materials he bought, etc. 

Ge’ez… I thought I was going out for a nice walk with the intention of having a few laughs! Now my heart is bleeding for a man I barely know. However, I could not walk away from him: I know what it feels like to need support, so I listened without interruption as he unraveled himself.

In the end, he was so grateful and a much happier man. I told him I would say a prayer for him.  He said, no; do not pray for me, I pray for myself. I said, no, you do not get it. This is the buddy system! I will pray for you and you pray for me, because I need your help too!  We both laughed. He was smiling ear-to-ear and could not thank me enough. In fact, he leaned in, gave me a kiss on the cheek, and asked if I would like to meet again.  I graciously declined, but took in his kindness and the lesson incurred and we both walked away feeling much better about ourselves than we previously had.

I know there will come a day when I will need the favor returned, so I keep paying it forward and making deposits in my karmic account!



  1. marion coughlin said

    great story!

  2. patricia stark said

    sounds like your knocking on the door of a new career. Enjoyed reading your blog Amy

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