Thursday, September 27, 2012
A Little More Pay It Forward
Today was one of those days that occur from time to time where my original plan had to change. Here's what happened:
I was heading over to FedexOffice where I had placed an online order for some printing. This is something I've done many times throughout the year. I have a booklet that's about 15 pages that I give to audience members for many of my workshops. I can easily upload the document, select from a variety of setup options, and then have it printed, copied, and bound and ready for me to pick up. I've done this enough times that I've gotten to know the guys who work there. I was thinking that today it might be nice to give a Chick-fil-A gift card to the guy who took care of my order as a small way to say thank you. However, when I inspected the completed job before bringing it home, I noticed that all of the pages had been printed in reverse order! Needless to say, they're reprinting everything and it didn't feel appropriate to offer a thank you gesture. So I moved to Plan B.
I needed to pick up something at Target so I figured that I would pick a stranger in the parking lot and offer them the gift card, at which point I could also create a nice pay-it-forward opportunity. Parking lots are great for this type of thing because there are lots of people coming and going.
I picked out a woman and her teenage daughter who had just gotten out of their car and were starting to walk toward the store. Stopping them for a moment, I approached the woman and asked her if she and her daughter liked Chick-fil-A. She gave me a hesitant, quizzical look and offered a tentative "Yes . . ." I then asked her if she'd like to have the gift card. Looking at me warily, she seemed to be trying to figure out what to make of me, or if this was some kind of trick. That's when I explained that the only "catch" was that they had to do something nice for someone else in return. That brought a big smile to her face as if now she understood what was going on. She said "Sure. That's so nice," as I presented her with the card. I'd love to know what she and her daughter chose to do. I'm sure they told their family and friends about the strange thing that happened to them in the Target parking lot today!
As I've noted many times, the pay-it-forward concept is so wonderfully simple, and yet powerful. I think of it almost like starting a wave that can build and build and perhaps be felt many miles away. A simple gesture like a gift card can set in motion a series of kind acts that could number in the hundreds or even thousands if each person pays it forward and requests the next person to do the same. That's pretty powerful. And that's why I'm trying to put in that specific pay-it-forward request as often as I can remember (and when appropriate).