Friday, February 06, 2009

The Ecomonic Crisis Hits Home

You have to be living under a basket to not know some parts of of the US got hit hard by a severe winter storm. First there was the sleet, then the ice, then the snow, then the sleet again. It was pretty bad for us here. I think half of Kentucky was without power at one time. And some are still waiting for the lights and heat to be turned back on.

My friend C. lives in an area that was hard hit, having huge trees in a mature neighborhood with no underground wires. Her power was out for five days. She was lucky that she had family to stay with while waiting it out. The pull to go home and check things out overwhelmed her, so she and her Dad went for a visit to check up on the house. And naturally, her Dad got stuck in the mountain of ice and snow scraped from the streets and deposited in front of all driveways. They tried and tried to get the car dislodged when finally someone came upon them and asked if they needed help.

He attached the car up to a wench and in a matter of moments had the vehicles back on the safe side of the drive way and clear of the ice barricade. Her Dad tried to give the guy money and he waved it off saying, "I'm paying it forward.", jumped in his truck and vanished.

Her father was not familiar with the term so C. explained that there was a movie that had this beautifully simple idea about people doing something meaningful for each other, strangers, family members, doesn't matter. The hitch is it is to be something hard and not easy....then the person receiving the "gift" is to "pass it on" meaning to do something for five other people, who in turn do something for five people, and in time, the world will be a much nicer place for everyone.

Later that day, after hearing her story I was in our local ALDI, the incredibly inexpensive (but very limited brand names, few but their own) grocery store replenishing the bread (.79cents) and a gallon of milk($2.29, was $1.99 until Jan. 1). I was standing in the back of the line, because there is always only one line and one cashier in my ALDI store, minding my own business when I sensed there was something going on at the front of the line.

A woman, with her two grand kids, was trying to check out. She had her daughters debit card and was trying to input the secret code. It was not working,. "I'm sure these are the numbers" the lady said in frustration. The two kids had become very quiet and concentrated on Granny's predicament. "If you try the third time and still don't get it right, the system will freeze you out.'

"Oh Lordie" she sighed and tried for the third time. I think we all held our breaths. It did not take.

The basket of groceries was pushed aside as the small family exited the store.

Something in my gut was telling me to step in and pay it forward, to pay for those groceries. And my heart was aching because I could not. I barely had enough bills in my hand to pay for the meager things I had.

I would have done it in a heart beat a year ago.

If I ever get back on my feet again, I will never ever take anything for granted again.


Monica said...

Mary, You had me in tears. The other day I had to count out dimes, nickles and quarters to buy under $5.00 worth of gas. I kept apologizing for giving the cashier all change. He quieted me and said he understood. I went to pump my gas and as I was about to leave I overheard a woman telling her husband how she wished she could've helped a woman who was struggling for gas money and paid with every coin in my wallet. That was me she wanted to help. We WILL get back on our feet and we WILL be able to help others again. It just hit me hard when I realized I could use help myself when I'm so used to being the one to help a person out.


Indigo said...

Beautiful sentiments dear one, I have no doubt you would of helped if you could of. The thing about life is - we get a lot of chances to pay it forward at one time or another.

I've been in that place where I could of used help, I've also been on the giving end. Eventually we do even up the odds with love. (Hugs)Indigo

Beth said...

You'll have your chance, never fear. We're big believers in the pay it forward concept here at our place, and it's a great rule to live by. Keep doing what you're'll get there. And paying it forward doesn't always mean an actual payment, you know?

Hugs, Beth

Nelle said...

OH Mary how I understand totally. This was the very first Christmas ever I did not help a needy family. There was a collection at work and I gave five dollars but it was for three kids and I knew that wouldn't go far. I cannot wait until I can share once again. I would much rather give than receive.

Chris said...

This hurts because I've hit this same place in December. Like Nelle, we have always taken care of at least one kid from an "angel tree" at Christmas since 2000. We could not afford to this year and the thought of there being a kid out there who got nothing this year because we weren't able to help, breaks my heart.