Two years ago, I was pregnant. I stopped at a gas station to fill up my car on the way to work. I slid my credit card into the pump and started filling up. Now, before they took off all those little dohickeys that allowed you to run around while your car filled up, I didn't pay much attention to when the pump stopped. However, on this particular day the pump stopped way before I knew the tank could possibly be full. And to make it odder, it stopped exaclty at $30. Even. My gas never costs even amounts unless I actively pump it to a certain dollar. If you can recall, two years ago was about the time that gas costs $10000000000 a gallon, so there was no way that $30 filled up my 15 gallon tank. No receipt had printed.
I automatically assumed there was something wrong with my credit card and I had somehow stolen gas. Or that the receipt printer was broken. I stuck it back in the pump, and it worked just fine. I finished filling up my tank. A recipt printed out just fine. I waddled (remember, I was preggers) into the service station and asked the sales clerk what had happened, apologizing prefusely for any problem I had caused, and no, I wasn't trying to steal gas, etc.
He LAUGHED at me. And he explained to me that the person who had used that pump before me had prepaid $30 in gas for the next person.
I was SPEECHLESS. Seriously. And I ALWAYS have something to say. I mean, gas was so expensive. The economy was HORRIBLE. Why would anyone do that?!
The clerk told me to have a nice day. And I did. It wasn't until a few days later that I learned about "Pay It Forward." I hadn't seen the movie. EVER. But it just happened to be on that weekend. I got it. Somehow had done that for me. So a few days later, while in the drive thru at McDs for breakfast (again, PREGGERS, don't judge), I asked to pay for the person behind me. Every now and then I will do little things like that. I will leave my change in the vending machine. I will pay for someone's Starbucks. Which is exactly what I did on Wednesday, The 2nd Annual Pay It Forward Day. I haven't been on the receiving end of a Pay It Forward action since that morning at the gas station, but that's ok.
Even if that person that benefits from you, doesn't pay it forward, you have put out a small bit of happiness, of good karma, into the universe. If you made someone smile. You did something so small, but considerate and just might have given them a bit of a better day. And maybe they made someone else's day a bit brighter because of their better mood.
The day, or the notion itself isn't about money. It's about positive energy and kindness being put into the universe, pushing out some of the bad.