Please pay it forward....
This blog post is dedicated to the parents and family of Alyssa Josephine O'Neil. Before you read on, if you don't know this tragic story, please click on the link above and learn how it has turned into a story of hope.
This morning started out a little shaky for my wife and I. Around 5:45 A.M. our 2 and a half year old little girl came into our bedroom screaming and crying. For the past 24 hours she had been fighting a fever of a temperature around 101 to 103 degrees. This morning was different. As she jumped into bed with us and crawled her way in between we could both tell her fever had spike a lot higher. She was uncomfortable to the touch but still needed love and consoling. We took her temp and it read 105 degrees. Now we are not the panic type of parents but at 105 degrees, we made the decision to head to the ER at our local hospital. While there they ran a chest x-ray for her cough, catheter to check for a UTI, checked her ears for an infection, and checked her mouth and throat for an infection as well. Nothing. They told us it was most likely a strong viral fever, continue to watch it carefully, and give her Tylenol. Needless to say we had a rough morning but in perspective to Alyssa's parents we have it very easy.
Later on that evening my lovely mother-in-law volunteered to watch our daughter so that my wife and I could go out for a couple of hours just to have us time. We did the usual by heading to Target, the mall, Best Buy (my geek/nerd Christmas store), and other places just to walk around and have couple time. To end the night, we decide to head to our favorite frozen yogurt shop, Menchie's. Besides ending the night with a treat, my wife and I want to pay it forward and buy someone's treat for the night. Our reasoning, we are grateful that even though our little girl has a fever and the morning start off rough, she is still very healthy. No matter how much she acts up and behaves like a two year old, we still have the opportunity to love her every second of everyday.
We walked in like normal and proceeded to get our cups, fill it with the frozen yogurt and toppings of our choosing, and headed over to the register at the front counter. While paying for our yogurt my wife and I noticed a young couple with a little one in a baby carrier right behind us. With a nod to each other, we both agreed to pay for their desserts. As we use to be parents of a little little one, we felt they could use a pick me up. So after using our card to pay for our frozen yogurt, we told the very nice girl at the counter to please let us pay for their frozen yogurts and I will come back for the card later. The young girl helped us out and when it came time for the young couple to pay, she told them their frozen yogurts were free and pointed us out as the ones who made this gesture (though that part I didn't want to happen). The young couple came up to us and shook my hand, thanked us, and I told him to just pay it forward as they left. When I went to the counter to retrieve my card the young girl at the counter handed me my card back but also gave me a free $25 gift card to Menchie's. She said that was one of the nicest things she had ever seen at her store and wanted to pay it forward to us. My wife and I were stunned because this is not something we expected to happen nor wanted. I thanked her, tipped her for her help, and went to sit back down with my wife to finish our frozen yogurts.
Crap! What were we going to do with this card? My wife and I both felt bad about receiving this wonderful gift because as it was not our intention to be rewarded for doing something nice for someone else. Right then and there we decided to give the gift card to someone else to pay for their frozen yogurts. So we asked to use a marker and wrote on the gift card (see the image at the top of this blog) about #AJO and pay it forward. Now was the difficult part, who do we help? We sat there slowly eating our yogurt slowly and looking at each other as time passed on. Were we ever going to see a family come in to help before the store closed? We didn't want to leave with it and we didn't want to give it to someone we know because that would defeat the purpose of a random act of kindness. Decisions decisions.
Finally a family of four came in and we knew we wanted to help them out. It was a pre-tween boy and a tween girl in the family that sold us. It was a chance to show those young kids that there are nice people in this world and that to give is better than to receive. Hopefully it sunk in. So I went up to the register, give the gift card to a young man at the counter, pointed out the family getting their frozen yogurt, and told him to please help me and use this to pay for their desserts. He re-pointed them out to me, smiled, and agreed. I walked back to my wife at the table, we gathered our things, and left before the family could reach the register. We didn't want the family to know who it was, only that someone wanted to do something nice for them in hopes it would spark a random act of kindness in them.
I write this, not to pound my chest or pat myself on the back and say "Good job you", but to hopefully make my readers think about what you are grateful for in life and how easy it is to give and make a stranger's life a little better. Please, I urge you to think of something you are grateful for and then pay it forward. It doesn't take a lot of time or money and I guarantee that by giving selflessly, you will feel more fulfilled and rewarded than the stranger you helped. Thank you. #AJO