Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pay It Forward

It’s strange how things happen.  Many times we don’t realize the forces and influences at work behind the scenes in our lives.  One such force happened recently to a friend of mine.

As she traced back the sequence of events, it’s easy to believe that there’s some sort of master plan for all of us.  Call it fate, call it destiny, or call it God’s work.

My friend, I’ll call her Sharon (because that’s her name), works in marketing at a suburban Costco.  She’s pleasant,  can talk endlessly, and tells a heck-of-a-good story.  She’s the childhood friend I mentioned in my previous post.  The one I reconnected with after a 47 year absence while we both were busy raising our families and living our lives.

Sharon held a variety of positions.  She married and had her two children a bit later in life.  It was after her marriage that she began to live a privileged life…for a while.  While her two sons were still quite young, though, Sharon’s husband deserted them and Sharon ended up raising her sons as a single mother. 

Sharon pulled herself up, got a job, an apartment for herself and her two sons, and, eventually, sent both sons to college.  All the while, scrimping and saving (along with a student loan) so the oldest could attend school.  He has his degree now.   Job opportunities took him out of state and he is on his own now.  One down, one to go.

Son number two is also attending college.  As with many college boys, Son 2 tired of the college dorms after his Freshman year and opted to stay in a house on campus for this, his second year.  Big plans and lots of hyped-up talk between him and his friends had been taking shape for months and months.  Out of the dorm and into their own house.  As time went on and Freshman year came to a close, promises of living arrangements for Son 2 and the guys were forged…or so they thought.

Summer came and there was still excited talk of moving to a house on campus with friends.  But, boys will be boys.  It’s now the end of August and Sharon is beginning to get more than a little uneasy because final, concrete plans for her son’s living arrangements haven’t come to fruition yet.  Of course, Son 2 says not to worry and goes about HIS life without a care.

Finally, two days before the semester is about to begin, panic sets in (for Sharon)……no house or apartment to be found.  So now, mom sets into motion HER plan.  STAY IN THE DORM.  Of course Son 2 doesn’t want to hear of it and says he’ll just crash at a friend’s place.  Well……that ain’t gonna fly with Sharon.

Frantic phone calls to get a last minute dorm.  Nothing.  More phone calls.  Up the chain of command.  Nothing.  Sharon begs for a closet, even.  Nothing.  Countdown…One day ‘til school.

Meanwhile, back at Costco. A woman enters the store and proceeds to the Return counter.  The woman is obviously upset.  She has a telephone to return, minus the box, that she had purchased a couple weeks prior at another Costco location.  The phone, she explains to a young girl at the return desk, obviously is used as it has messages on the built-in answering machine.      

The young girl at the counter, trying to help, is beginning to get flustered herself.  She stops Sharon, who “just happens?” to be walking by, and asks her if, perhaps, SHE could take care of this woman’s predicament.

The worried woman returning the phone proceeds to tell Sharon her problems.  The woman told Sharon that she is the caretaker for an elderly man and had purchased this phone for him.  After the woman figured out the new phone was, indeed, used, she is now returning the phone to the store. 

While traveling the roads to her local Costco, there “just happened?” to be a terrible accident just ahead of her.  The roads were blocked from traveling any further, and traffic was backed-up for miles.  She explained to Sharon that she had ALMOST turned around to go home, but “just happened?” to detour around.  She had wrongly entered the freeway and didn’t really know which way she was travelling or exactly where she was going.  Twenty-Six MILES later, far out her way, she “just happened?” upon THIS Costco.

At an attempt to lighten the lady’s troubled state at being out of her familiar territory, Sharon “just happens?” to relay a “You-think-YOU’VE-got-troubles?…Listen-to-THIS” story.  Sharon began telling her the problem with Son 2 and his lack of living arrangements with school starting TOMORROW!  Sharon explained the endless calls she had made to the college to no avail and there were Absolutely.  No. Vacant.  Rooms.  Son 2 HAD to have a place to stay or his student loan would be withdrawn.  The hours were counting down.

Both women eventually found laughter though their shared tears while Sharon wrote up the return item and refunded the woman’s money.  The woman excused herself momentarily to place a phone call on her cell.  Minutes later she again stepped up to the Return line and, as a “thank-you,” slipped Sharon a piece of paper with a scribbled phone number on it.  The women asked Sharon to call that number saying it was the number of the elderly man she was caring for and it “just happens?” that, possibly, he could help with her son’s predicament.

The next morning, with Zero Hour approaching, Sharon was desperate.  It was the day before school was to start.  Sharon picked up the phone and obediently dialed the number that was scrawled on the crumpled paper.

An elderly gentleman finally answered after several rings.  Not knowing who this man was, friendly, great-story-telling- Sharon proceeded to share her dilemma with him.  The two began talking as if they were old friends.  The man finally asked for her number and said he would return her call within a couple of hours.

The minutes ticked away.   Finally.  It was the man again.  He told Sharon to jot down an address.  The address turned out to be a dorm room on the campus Son 2 was attending.

Just like that.  A room appeared.

One day later, Sharon “just happened?” to receive another call.  This call was from an elderly woman.  She wanted to thank Sharon! 

“Thank ME,” Sharon wondered?

The elderly woman explained that she was the wife of the elderly man.  She went on to relate a story about how, ever since he had been ill, her husband had been quiet and somewhat withdrawn sitting in his home-library for hours on end.  “But today,” she beamed, “he’s been bouncing around here like a new man!”  The wife went on to say that just the fact that he could do a favor for someone who needed his service made him feel alive again.  So she thanked Sharon again.

Is it fate?  ls it destiny?  Is it God’s work?  Next time YOU meet a stranger, pay YOUR good fortune forward.  It could “just happened?” that YOU may be helping someone… or… it could “just happen?” that THEY may be helping YOU.   

We’re all connected in one way or another…..whether we realize it or not.

1 comment:

  1. What an amazing thing! Now call it Karma, or call it God, it's marvelously wonderful! So fantastic for everyone involved. Thanks for sharing!


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