Pay It Forward

On New Year’s Day, I treated myself to dinner at Rory’s, my favorite bar in Edmonds. I’ve been there hundreds of times in the last ten years, but that night I experienced something new. As I sat sipping a glass of wine after my meal, waiting to pay my bill, I got a big surprise—someone had already paid it. (Maybe I should have had a second glass of wine 😊) I asked who gave me this gift, but my server didn’t have a clue. The person paid the bill and left without word. I guess I’ll never know, but what I do know is that there is kindness in the world after all.

The truth is, I was feeling a bit low after another New Year’s Eve with only my dog to share the festivities. We both have a lot to be thankful for and, honestly, I am fine with a quiet evening of reflection but, with a few exceptions, 2019 was not a year I would care to repeat. My dog would probably agree as she is an old lady now and has taken a sharp turn downward with failing vision and other maladies of old age.

So, I was feeling kind of melancholy as I sat by the window in Rory’s, watching the lights reflecting off the water as the Ferry crossed the Sound. I always feel at home there—it is my “Cheers”—where everybody knows my name. What better place to start a new year, I thought, even as I wondered if 2020 would be any better than 2019.

Who knows what this year will bring, but starting the year with that wonderful act of kindness gave me hope. I was beginning to feel the world was full of greed and hate and bullies (and I still believe there are plenty of those out there), but there ARE good people in the world—probably more than the evening news would have us believe.

I wish I could have met the person who paid my bill and thanked them for restoring my faith in humankind, but it is enough that a complete stranger found it in his or her heart to Pay It Forward.

Now it is my turn and I promise I will repay their act of kindness with one of my own. I’ll be on the lookout for the next person who looks like they’re having a hard day and I will Pay It Forward.

Epilogue–three weeks later: Yeah, yeah, yeah.  I want to repay that kindness and I do believe there is good in the world, but as I was sadly reminded two days ago, the greedy, hateful people still exist. I dropped my phone in Las Vegas and when I realized it was gone, I retraced my steps. No sign of it and no one turned it in. I checked “Find My Phone” and saw it was a few miles down the road in the hands of one of the not-so-kind assholes that keep trying to prove that kindness is not the norm. Is it, or isn’t it? After January 1st, my luck seems to have changed, reminding me that no matter how hard we try to Pay It Forward, there will always be those who keep pushing us backward. I still want to believe, so someone, please tell me why I should…