Monday, June 12, 2006

Altruism

"He who would do good to another must do it in Minute Particulars." ~ William Blake

About a year and a half ago, I was down and out. I had just bought a brand new car with payments I wasn't even sure I could afford in the first place, and within two weeks of purchasing the car, before I had even made the first payment on it, I was laid off.

I applied for unemployment compensation but had to wait 3 weeks to get any and then discovered that it wasn't as much as I thought I should have gotten. I was unemployed for a couple of months. I was falling behind on all my bills, not just the car payment.

Eventually, I was able to get a job that paid little more than minimum wage, but at least it was something more than the small amount I was getting from unemployment.

But I still couldn't pay the car payment. I had hidden the car in a friends garage to avoid reposession. (It was literally mere hours before reposession)

Then a miraculous thing happened.

I mentioned my car payment problems to a group of friends, and a woman I didn't know just offered to make a car payment for me, right out of the blue. I protested that it was my problem and she didn't even know me, but she insisted. I asked her why, and she merely stated that she had her own reasons. And she said she didn't expect repayment. She said she didn't want me to pay her back. I could not dissuade her, so I relented and reluctantly allowed her to make the payment for me.

But the miracle didn't end there. Because she made that one car payment for me, I was able to stave off reposession just long enough to start a new job, in which I used that same car to make an income. A very good income. Without that car, I wouldn't have been able to get that job, and, most likely would not even been able to keep the job I had.

I lost some friends over this incident. Many people accused me of being a con man and a user. There were a lot of hard feelings resulting from this simple act of kindness.

I bore it all with no small amount of consternation.

Fast forward to last week. My income has increased and I finally caught up on all my bills. All of them. And I now have money in the bank. More money that doesn't have to be spent on anything than I have ever had.

So, I wrote a check to my benefactor, who, incidentally, I hadn't kept in touch with, nor she with me, and I sent it to her, after first checking with her to make sure she hadn't moved. It was a good thing I did. She had moved.

I wrote the check for more than the amount she gave me. I figured I owed her interest as well. She wrote me back that when they had moved, they had unexpected expenses and had been unable to get some things out of storage. The money I sent her will cover that expense.

The only thing I asked in return is that she tell the people who accused me of being a can artist and a user that I paid her back.

I feel good. Altruistic. I think I am going to be altruistic more often. Nothing can match the feeling one gets by doing something nice for someone with no expectation of reciprocation.

I don't want a pat on the back. Just pay it forward. You'll be glad you did.

5 comments:

FrenziedFeline said...

Nice post. :)

(Sorry to see moderation is back on--sigh.)

Pamela Reece said...

Mark, I live by "paying it forward". For example, I recently started tipping the ice-cream driver that comes through our neighborhood. While I was at a get-together with some friends, I asked them if they ever tipped an ice-cream truck driver. They looked at me like I was crazy! One woman even said, "Don't you know that 'those' people are doing community service? They're cons performing their sentence!" Somehow, though, I didn't care what they said. One of the drivers was a black woman who started dancing in the truck (for $2.00) and even kissed me on my cheek! The other was a hispanic man and he smiled and said, "Oh..muchos gracias, seniorita" (for $2.50) and did the cross sign.

I know for a fact that giving to others comes back to you two times over. You are not the first person I've seen it happen to. It has happened to me, which is why I live by that motto and my children do too.

Thanks for sharing another great pay-it-forward story. It is proof that God is watching and smiling in all his glory upon your friend and upon you!

Lone Ranger said...

I just look at it as another way of tithing. What you give to those in need is surely as blessed as what you give to the church.

Jim said...

Reminds me of "paying it forward." Classic example.

Goat said...

Mark if there is one thing I have learned on that narrow walk through the brambles of life, good and bad acts do come back as what many would call "luck". Good on Ya, that be the gracious act of a good man in return of a gracious act in your favor.