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L.A. O'Neil : Paying it Forward

Paying it Forward

A Random Act of Kindness Story

By L.A. O'Neil

About a year ago, my husband and I were coming back from Vail, Colorado, and we decided to stop in Silverthorne for breakfast at a local watering hole — I think it was a Denny's, but I'm not sure. All I know is that I was starving, and I could have scarfed anything on my plate within a matter of seconds.

We ordered, and as we were enjoying our coffee while waiting for our food, two high school girls came in and sat in the booth across from us, both seated on the same side. They dumped their money on the table, and started picking through the mound of change. It was clear that they were trying to scrape up enough money for a pancakes or some other tasty treat. Luckily, I always wear my prescription sunglasses — because not only do they make me look incredibly cool, I can see my dinner plate, as well. Or, my breakfast plate. In any event, the glasses serve me well, because I can see everybody in the restaurant, and they're and not even aware that I'm looking at them. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not staring everybody, but I will admit to 'people watching' every once in awhile.

So there they sat, scratching through their change, looking for the big payoff — quarters! Triumphant when they realized they had enough for a Belgian waffle with strawberries and a couple of cups of coffee, they ordered and anxiously awaited the arrival of their food. (It seems weird when I see high school kids drinking coffee — that was almost unheard of when I was young, and coffee didn't enter the picture until I was in college. Congrats to Starbucks for changing the lives of teens everywhere!) When their plates arrived, they asked the server for an extra plate, and they divvied up their chow with delight. It seemed as though they hadn't eaten for quite a long time, but I'm sure that that wasn't the case. They looked a little scraggly, and I a suspected that they were experiencing a Sunday morning on a camping trip, and they decided to hit the local restaurant rather than wait for scrambled eggs and bacon over the campfire. I can't I blame them, although I do enjoy a nice campfire meal every once in awhile.

After they devoured their food, they dumped more change out on the table, this time really picking through it to see if they had enough to order more. I watched this process for a couple of minutes, and then I motioned to the server.

"Do you know what the term 'pay it forward' means? I asked.

"I think I do," she said, as she nodded her head and explained the meaning of the phrase.

"You're waiting on the two high school girls, and I notice they're trying to get enough money to pay for something else to eat. I'd like to pay for their entire meal, but I will appreciate it if you will not tell them until after we leave. When you do tell them that we are picking up the tab, please ask them if they know what pay if forward means. If they don't, will you please explain it to them? All I ask of the two girls is that they pay if forward to someone else today."

The server looked at me with a quizzical look, and she nodded in agreement. We paid our bill and were on our merry way within a couple of minutes.

Chances are good that the girls hadn't paid any attention to us, and that they had no idea that we were sitting across from them in the restaurant — they weren't paying any attention to anything, other than sorting through their change.

Do you think they paid it forward that day? I do.

I have faith.

© 2011 L.A. O'Neil. All rights reserved.

Article written by L.A. O'Neill for April Jones, who first discovered green smoothies at the recommendation of a close friend and it has developed into a fun hobby teaching others how to get started. More »