Pay It Forward

I grew up in a smaller city that was based around a Steel Mill.  The mill combined with several other industrial businesses made up for the majority of jobs within the city limits.   My parents still live in the same house that I grew up in.  When I grew up there the neighborhood was mostly middle class if not upper middle class.  We never had much crime in our neighborhood or anything to truly worry about but somehow we would randomly have people land on our porch at odd hours of the night that would need a ride or their car would be broken down, we even had an Alzheimer’s patient one time.  No matter the case they were always someone who we had never met and were always in need of help.  (I think it’s because we would always leave our porch light on.  I guess it was some sort of beacon.)  No matter what time it was, my dad would always answer the door and if they needed something he wouldn’t hesitate to help.  This would range anywhere from giving them a ride to the gas station, fixing their car, or even a pair of socks, cup of coffee, and entertain them till their family was able to get there.

This kind of responsibility to look out for people around you didn’t just stop at home,  we could be driving down the road and he’d stop for someone who needed help too.   Never any hitch hikers though.  This attitude towards helping others and making sure that you have shown there is nothing due in return was something he instilled in all three of his children.   Once I got old enough to drive I would see someone broken down and so I would stop; and if I could help, I would.   By this point in time the neighborhood we were in was slowly decreasing and we started noticing more crime in the area.  This somehow didn’t change my old man’s mind set.  Still if there’s a knock at the door he’ll see who it is and go out and help if he can.  The funny thing is it just happened this year when we were having a family dinner.  So what did my dad do?  He got his coat and took the stranger to get a part they needed. 

Fast forward to now, almost 13 years later, I was in my driveway plowing snow just last year and noticed a car broken down in the street with a local police officer behind him.   I watched for a second and realized the car was broken down and could clearly tell the man driving had no idea where he was or what to do.  The driver of the car said he thinks he just needs a jump but the officer could not help due to policy and so he was waiting for a tow truck.  I told him I’ll grab my jumper pack from the garage and be right back.   After looking under the hood and unhooking a few unneeded accessories from his battery I hooked up my jumper pack and got the car started.   I told him that I thought it was a combination or a bad alternator and some stereo equipment that had been hooked up wrong.  I simply told him the jump should get him to the closest shop and how to get there.  When I closed the hood he asked how much he owed me.   I simply told him nothing at all just make sure he takes it straight to a shop so they can fix the problem.   The man couldn’t believe I would stop what I was doing in the middle of nasty winter day, help someone who was a complete stranger, and ask for nothing in return.  I simply shook his hand and said good luck.  I hope that further down the road he remembers that and does something kind for someone he doesn’t know when they are in need.

My wife can’t believe it when I want to stop and help someone or get out and drag something out of the road so someone else doesn’t get hurt.  She always says something like they could mug you or they will be fine someone probably already called.  While more and more I find myself too busy to stop because I am in a rush to get to work I still try to find a way to help someone in need.  Even if it’s just holding a door open for someone who is in a hurry.

All I can say is I hope this inspires you to “Pay It Forward”.  I know there are still good people in this world and plenty of them.   So the next time you see someone you don’t know in need of help.  Even if it may inconvenience you a bit, think of their day and how much better a small act of kindness can turn it around.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
Twitter: @EXAIR_BF

3 thoughts on “Pay It Forward

  1. I also was inspired to help people in need from my dearly departed sister. She who had limited income and abilities was always giving someone something they needed. Whether it was a material thing or simply to listen she was always caring and in tune to people in crisis.

    I once saw an elderly woman in a grocery store longing for a carton of ice cream but realizing she couldn’t afford it, I quietly handed the cashier the extra funds and received the best smile from her. I hope it made her night as it did mine.

  2. I happened to have the opportunity to give someone a jump start on Saturday. Although we got the car started several times, it wouldn’t keep running b/c the alternator and battery were too far gone. Fortunately, the man’s daughter was nearby and came to pick him up. But what really struck me was as we were putting up the cables, the man’s wife tried to give me $20! Of course I couldn’t take the money, but I was completely shocked that she even felt obliged to pay and mortified to think someone might expect something in return for being a good Samaritan.

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