Monday, July 23, 2012

Pay it Forward.

My rowdy family at breakfast, Hilton Head Island, SC.
 A remarkable thing happened to my family while we were vacationing last week.
We were finishing up our breakfast, when the restaurant hostess came over to our table and told us that another patron had bought us breakfast... our check was paid for and we could go whenever we were ready.
(of course I didn't believe her and went up to pay anyway)
Are you sure it was our table?
You must be mistaken...we don't know anyone here.

She assured me that our meal was already paid for... most definitely.
We were a table of eight big eaters, which makes for a big bill. Why were we the benefactors of such a random act of kindness?
We couldn't figure it out. It was a true mystery.

The younger kids concluded that there must have been a really nice person in the restaurant who felt like doing a really nice thing for someone... and we were the family that got lucky.

(the universe is less mysterious when you are under ten)
 The next morning we returned to our new favorite breakfast place and following our meal, I told the hostess that we were in the day before and someone paid for my family's breakfast and now I wanted to secretly pay for the breakfast of the family who happened to be sitting next to us, in addition to our own. 

 "No problem," she said, as she totaled our breakfast neighbors bill... "I'll just tell them that yesterday someone bought your breakfast for you so today, you wanted to pay it forward, and buy theirs.  
Pay it Forward
It was quite lovely to hear this expression explained so simply by our breakfast hostess.

My grandfather used the term a lot and also my father...
They both borrowed it from OSU football Coach Woody Hayes...who borrowed it from Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Who knew that philosophers and football coaches held on tight to the same beliefs?

Here is an excerpt from a speech delivered by Coach Hayes as he quotes Emerson.
 Try to take that attitude toward life, that you're going to pay forward.  So seldom can we pay back... Emerson had something to say about that: "You can pay back only seldom. You can always pay forward, and you must pay line for line, deed for deed, and cent for cent." That was Emerson's attitude, and no one put it better than he did.
Pay it forward.

Thank you dear coffee shop patron who paid for my family's breakfast for no apparent reason.

And thanks also to my Dad, and Grandfather who taught the concept of paying it forward,
and their inspiration for the term...Coach Woody Hayes.

And finally, thank you Ralph Waldo Emerson for coming up with the ideology itself of Pay it Forward  that inspired kindness in so many for 200 years after he first wrote of it.

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