Friday, November 18, 2011

Impecible Timing

In my blog about Random Acts of Kindness I mentioned a story about paying the toll for people behind you on a bridge or toll road.

I learned this trick from one of my best elementary school friend's mom. We were driving back from "The City" as us Bay Area folks call it. To those from outside the Bay Area, we were coming back from San Francisco and my friend's mom paid the toll for the person behind us to get back across the bridge.

I was somewhat baffled by what she had done. I am positive I asked some questions about it, although I cant remember the exact dialogue, I know there was one. It was a lesson that stayed with me throughout the years.

The next time I went over the bridge with my family, I told my mom about my friend's mom and asked her to do the same. My mom refused saying that she was positive the toll booth worker would pocket the money. (Back then, it was a whopping $2.) I tell her so what, it's still a kind gesture no matter where the money ends up. Needless to say, I was never able to convince my mom to pay for the car behind us.

Finally, I was old enough to drive and I remember being so excited the first time I was able to pay for the car behind me. I don't do it for any kind of thank you. Often times, you are so far ahead the car doesn't get the opportunity to say thanks. But looking in the review mirror, seeing the car try to give the toll booth worker the money and knowing the confusing conversation that is going between the two of them makes it all worth it. Every now and again you'll get a honk of the horn, the flash of the lights, and on the occasions that they actually catch up with you, you're sure to get a smile and an enthusiastic wave. It's great.

I pay the toll for the people behind me every opportunity I got.

Fast forward a few years... I am well into my 20's at this point and my mom was out from Indiana visiting. My mom, my sister and I had taken a road trip to The City and we were on our way back. My sister was driving and as we got close to the toll booth I said, "OH! Pay for the person behind us!" My mom and sister were both like, "No... why would we do that?" or something like that. I am sure my mom threw out the same suspcious line she used when I was a kid, "The booth worker will just pocket the money."

Shaking my head I'm thinking, "I cant believe these people" as I started digging in my purse to see if I had enough cash on me to do it myself. I did. I passed the cash to the front seat and said, "I'll pay for the car behind us."

We get up to the booth... My sister rolls down her window... puts her hand out the window with the cash in her hand... and before she can say anything, the toll booth guy says, "The car in front of you paid for you."

HA! Can you imagine the satisfaction I felt in that very moment? It was the absolute perfect moment for that Random Act of Kindness to come back to me. It is likely that it wont ever happen again, but I am so OK with that because it happened at the exact moment that it was supposed to happen. It was AWESOME. It was like the satisfaction of tuning non-believers into believers. I have no idea if my mom or sister ever paid for the people behind them after that. I like to think and hope they have, but either way, I was glad they got to see that there is still good in the world and not everyone is as dishonest as they think.

There is one thing that I regret about it. I was so wrapped up in the excitement and gratitude and satisfaction of  what just happened... I forgot to tell my sister to keep it going and Pay it Forward!! I wish she would have still paid for the car behind us, and then they pay for the car behind them, and so on and so on. I'm sure they have had a chain reaction like that.

Next time I go through a toll both, I am going to ask the worker if they've ever seen a Random Act of Kindness chain and if so, how long did it last.

1 comment:

  1. HA! I love that story! That is such perfect timing!! I wish I could have seen the looks on their faces when they realized oh, it really works!! Hahaha so awesome!