I had an interesting experience the other day going for ice cream.
The woman at the front of the line was taking her time picking a flavor while there was a line up. A little irk started to rise, I acknowledged it and let it ride for the time, eventually she said “ohh if someone else is ready they can go first.”. Her comments made it obvious she was a traveler and not local. Immediately I softened a bit. I find when you are disoriented a bit and not on a schedule time has a different meaning.
The next two people in line got their cones and she came up again but then there was a bit of a disturbance and she went away looking flustered making a call. When I got to the front of the line I learned that her card had been declined for payment…she was from the states and had recently had a card stolen but thought that the problems were dealt with (new card in use), unfortunately when she crossed the border this triggered a shutdown of the card for some reason.
I thought for a moment then told the scooper to charge her cone to me. I indicated this to her while she was on the phone. I have never done a pay it forward type action and for whatever reason I thought that was the right time to start. I got my cone and sat in the sun to enjoy it. She remained on the phone.
I like the pay it forward idea. It can make an otherwise challenging day turn around and let you remember the joy in the little moments and the good in the world. Long story short I finished my cone and did the business I had in the platzl but didn’t actually see her get the cone. Additionally, not once was there any type of acknowledgement of the action, not even a little smile while she was on the phone or her saying anything to me while I was still visible eating my cone nearby.
I didn’t do what I did for praise but because I felt it the right thing to do. I actually returned to the shop to make sure that she did get the cone (yup). That said I still have this niggling feeling about it all. Maybe I am not as independent of the need for a pat on the head as I think. I did want to ask her to do the same for someone else but never got the opportunity. It feels like something is incomplete.
So I am curious…(gee that is new…actually I think this is my favorite question) have you paid it forward and if so what was your experience or expectations if any? I do believe there is more good and kindness in the world than anything else but I also wonder if our lack of presence disconnects us from this. We constantly live outside our physical locations (preoccupation with our phones) or mentally in the past, future without being present. Is the cost of this is not only disconnect but a lack of humanity in being present for others?
What do you think?