(Or Pay it Forward...)
By Nichole Giles
Saturdays are generally busy at our house. There’s always a sports game to attend or play, birthday parties, teenagers with plans, and someone who needs a ride somewhere. It’s the day set aside for yard work, laundry, and anything else that doesn’t get done earlier in the week.
This past Saturday was no different. While I ran the kids around taking care of some errands, Gary mowed the lawn. Our plan was to meet at home by 2:00 so we could get our oldest daughter to a basketball tournament in another city and both watch her play, but when 2:00 came around, I was home, and Gary wasn’t.
He called, though. “Hi,” he said. “I took the grass out to the green-waste plant, and while I was there, a guy accidentally locked his keys in his truck—and his toddler son.”
“Uh, oh,” I said. “That’s not good.”
“Nope,” he said. “They called the police, but since it’s on the borders of three different cities, they’re all fighting over who has to go. Not only that, dispatch got the address wrong and sent them to the dump.”
“That stinks,” I said, meaning it literally. If you’ve ever been to a green-waste/ sewer plant, you know exactly what I was talking about. Poor guy.
“Anyway,” Gary continued, “have everyone who’s going to the game ready, and when I get there, I’ll grab the Slim-Jim out of my patrol car and stop to help him on our way. Otherwise, that poor kid will be stuck in that truck all day.”
When he got home, we all piled in our truck, and Gary took the time to grab his Slim-Jims and lock picking tools. (Because you never know when a cop’s going to go criminal. Kidding.) By now we were feeling fairly rushed—knowing Brittany had to be to her game a few minutes early. But—as we explained to her—sometimes you stop what you’re doing to help someone else. Even if it makes you late.
We drove in through the exit (to surpass an enormous long line) and zipped right up to the distressed father. Gary shoved a wedge in his window, popped the lock, and shook his hand—it all took a total of about two minutes—and we were on our way again, glad to be able to breathe through our noses as soon as we drove away.
As we left, Madison asked, “Daddy, why did you help that man?”
He looked at me, and I looked at him, both understanding that this was one of those teaching opportunities we sometimes come across as parents. He said, “Heavenly Father helps us all, but most of the time it’s through other people. It was our turn to answer someone’s prayer today, and when you get an opportunity like that, you always take it.”
I nodded, adding, “You never know when someone else will be sent to answer one of your prayers. Would you want them to ignore the opportunity?”
“Besides,” Brittany piped up, “how would you like to be stuck standing outside the truck smelling that?”
Madison wrinkled her nose. “Ew, no. That’s disgusting. That place reeks.” She patted Gary on the shoulder. “That was nice of you, Dad.”
And that was the end of the discussion. We made it to the basketball game—not only on time, but early, as we’d meant—and our day continued without even a slight hitch. It didn’t hurt us one bit to go back and help that person and his child, but it did give us a rare opportunity to teach our children how important it is to help others—even strangers.
And, you know, it doesn’t hurt our karma, either. One more thing I absolutely believe in. Pay it forward, and it will always come back.