Recently I pulled up to the gate at a tourist attraction, stupidly surprised that I’d have to pay for parking, and realizing that this meant I’d probably have to go without lunch because in my world, every penny counts and there aren’t that many pennies available.
And then the parking attendant said, “Go on through. The guy ahead of you paid for both of you.” Now, understand that this was a complete stranger to me, and he had no idea how big an impact he was making. I tried to keep track of his vehicle during our individual hunts for a parking space so that I could thank him, but we got separated. But I’ll never forget that gesture.
I know, because it’s not the first time I’ve been the recipient of such generosity. One time I was visiting my mother in Las Vegas and discovered that at the time, about 23 years ago, you could pay 100 dollars to fly from there through the Grand Canyon, then take a shuttle to the rim, and stay in a hotel and fly back the next day. That was a lot of money at the time, but I’d never been to the Grand Canyon. How could I resist? So off I went on this amazing adventure.
Taking the shuttle from the rim I learned that the hotel was at a bit of a remove, and I was chatting with the shuttle driver to see what there was to do near the hotel that evening. We passed an Imax theater, and I said something along the lines of, “I could go to that, but how much does it cost?” He said it was 8 dollars. I probably sighed, because I only had 5 dollars. Oh well. As he pulled up to the hotel and I was getting off, he handed me a 10 dollar bill and said, “Enjoy the Imax.” I was so touched. When I got home I wrote a letter to his boss so he’d know what an amazing employee he had. And whenever I think of the Grand Canyon, I think of that man, who just wanted to make a total stranger smile.
If I ever am in the financial place to do so, I intend to pay these things forward. It doesn’t take that much, really, to reaffirm someone’s faith in humanity. Try it.
[image credit everynationgta.org]