In a difficult first week featuring roommate squabbles, 8 a.m. classes and a trip to the emergency room, my respite came in the form of a stranger with multi-colored dreadlocks.
I had just finished one of those early morning classes when my girlfriend mentioned that her car’s tires were running low on air and the warning light had come on. We drove to a local gas station to fill them up but didn’t have any cash, let alone quarters, to use the machine.
When it rains, it pours, I suppose.
While contemplating what we should do, the woman with multi-colored dreadlocks who had overheard the discussion of our struggle approached. She said hello, handed me a five-dollar bill, then turned and walked away just as mysteriously as she had come.
I was awestruck. This is the kind of “pay it forward” thing that you occasionally see on the internet but never really expect to see happen in your own life. It was certainly the first time that this level of random generosity had happened to me.
In the end, we found out that a different gas station offered free air so we didn’t even need the money. Those five dollars are still sitting in my wallet and will remain there until I decide how I’d like to pay it forward.
Perhaps I’ll donate it or pay for a stranger’s coffee. Or I could add it to a savings fund, wait a few thousand years for it to compound interest, then offer a Rainbow Dreadlocks Memorial Scholarship to Ferris students.
There really is no wrong way to make someone’s day.
I’d like to thank you again if you’re out there reading this, kind stranger. You made my whole week with that one kind action.
Yet more importantly, if you’re not that kind stranger, become one. Each of us has the power to improve the existence of others even if they are just a random person at the gas station, on the sidewalk or in the library.
Even if it’s just a small random act of kindness, it can mean the difference between a miserable week and a memorable one.