They say that there is nothing better than to give to someone and never expect anything in return. I can assure you that the sentiment is entirely true. One of the things I love about volunteering is the ability to come into people’s lives and be remembered for spreading joy. To be a messenger of happiness is an amazing responsibility and honor. I am blessed to work with other like-minded individuals who seek a life filled with helping others and making even the smallest difference in someone’s life. Though I am a full-time wish granter, I wanted to do something else, something more, before I turned 30.
I spoke with others about different options to give back, not certain of how I would pay it forward, but I was met with “But you already give back!” My response: “You can always do more.” It’s true. The more you give and see a smile spread across someone’s face, the more you want to. A smile, happy tears, a joyful memory… this is what I want to be able to give to the world. No amount of financial or professional success can ever mean as much to me as helping to make someone genuinely happy. It took me almost a year of brainstorming to find what I wanted to do to pay it forward, but I finally settled on an idea that worked for me. While it wasn’t a unique choice and certainly not one that I came up with, I decided to put my own spin on it.
The night before, I wrote out a card explaining that I hoped my action did a little something to make the receiver happy and for them to have a wonderful day. I signed my name and left my blog’s address to take a little mystery off the deed.
The next day, I drove through a local McDonald’s for breakfast, eager to turn my idea into a reality. As I pulled up to the first window to pay for my meal, I asked the drive-thru attendant if anyone had placed an order behind me. Confused, he said someone was in the middle of ordering. With a racing heart and a smile from ear-to-ear, I informed the attendant that I would like to pay for the meal of the car behind me. He was surprised, saying how nice it was that I wanted to do that.
And then he tried to talk me out of it.
He said that the order was a pretty big one (over $20), but I told him that didn’t matter. Money doesn’t matter when it comes to a nice gesture. I pulled the card out of my purse and asked him to please give it to the car behind me when they undoubtedly would ask why they didn’t need to pay. As I approached the second window to pick up my order, I kept a watchful eye on the rearview mirror. I saw the woman’s shock and surprise. I saw her take the card I had written the night before. I saw her smile. I couldn’t help but smile myself.
She waved to me as I pulled away from the restaurant and I found myself overcome with emotion. I imagined several scenarios in which buying breakfast for someone else meant more than I would ever know. I didn’t know who the meal was intended for. Perhaps it was hungry kids on the way to school or famished coworkers needing an energy boost before a staff meeting. The small acknowledgement with a wave of the hand was all it took for me to realize that whoever ate the meal would know that someone did something kind for them. For whatever reason, my eyes leaked down my face and a lump formed in my throat. I wasn’t expecting that performing a random act of kindness would affect me in this way and I was thankful that I wasn’t on my way to work, as my eyes became bloodshot and puffy.
It’s a good thing I had a nine-hour drive to dry those happy tears.