Interesting Stuff

Random Kindness, Pay It Forward

The elderly man look confused and embarrassed as he stood silently at the counter of the Flying-J truck stop on Federal Way recently.

The GUARDIAN walked in on the scene as the line behind the old guy grew to about five restless customers clutching junk food and beer. The young clerk didn’t know what to do and the cash register was obviously frozen. She summoned the manager.

“This man filled his car with $32.78 worth of gas and he only has $28 and no credit card,” explained the younger clerk.

From the end of the line a twenty something Blue Collar Guy instantly jumps forward, plunks down a fiver and a one and announces, “You’re good to go sir.”

Barely able to utter a, “Gosh, thanks!” the Old Guy shuffles out the door. Warm fuzzy smiles all around.

Everything we do affects all around us. That $6 investment will reap rewards for years to come and prompt others to make life just a little easier as times get tougher.

Good on the Blue Collar Guy! He makes Boise, Idaho a most livable city

Comments & Discussion

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  1. Just another I’m proud to be from this fine city. This warms my heart.

  2. A couple of months ago, I was getting a $1 sandwich at a fast food place for lunch. The cashier told me I didn’t owe anything. The person ahead of me in line had already paid. Although it was a grand total of $1.06, I had a smile on my face all day long because of that random act of kindness. I told at least a dozen people about it, and have since “paid it forward” as well.

    Especially as times are getting harder, hopefully more and more people in our community will step up and engage in other random acts of kindness. We can all use a little more kindness these days, and we can start making it happen by dishing a little more out.

  3. Geez, I try to be a tough guy but that story brought tears to my eyes. The “pay it forward” idea is one of the best to come around in my lifetime.

  4. OK! Time outs over. As the Guardian reported earlier, I was visiting the zoo awhile back and had a chance to have a meaningful conversation with the baboons in residence. They explained how angry they were with me for comparing them to the mayor. They felt it was unfair to insinuate they were on the same level. So, out of deference to perfectly innocent primates…. Anyway, until today I was so sick of hearing Boise referred to as “the most liveable city”. This points out just what makes this city such a great place to live. It’s not the mayor. city council, county commissioners,police, fire department, the broken bus system (more on that later)or any THING else. It’s the people that live here! Have we changed from 30-40 years ago? Sure! But, in the main, we still hold a door open for someone, smile when we pass on the street, let the driver into traffic from the parking lot, let the person behind us in the grocery store that only has a couple of items go first,stop to help someone who dropped a bunch of stuff, and, yes, give someone in need a few bucks. Damn! I love living here!

  5. “Practice Random Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty”

    – Anne Herbert

    For inspiration, consider visiting The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation @

    As The Guardian correctly pointed out, we are “A” Most Livable City.

    You can experience kindness from Boise to Brooklyn to Baghdad.

  6. Thanks for posting that wonderful anecdote. I’ve seen a few similar situations recently and it really lifts my spirits and restores my faith in the “good” that we have in common.

  7. Just back from vacation in beautiful New England and I noticed how amazed the locals were, big smiles etc., when I was polite with my usual driving habits. It seemed like they couldn’t believe I was letting them out of a parking area or merging into traffic or letting pedestrians cross. I witnessed some very glum folks back there, not used to a friendly gesture or face at all.

  8. What kinda riles me is when I stop for a second or two to let somebody out of a parking lot who might otherwise be jammed in there for hours, and the jerk behind me leans on the horn and/or gives me a middle-finger salute.
    I have a strong urge to just shut my engine off, get out, walk back there and politely ask, “Were you honking at me?” But, because I have an aversion to being shot, I don’t do that. Guess I’m a bit cowardly that way.
    So I drive on, hoping that someone else will need to get out of a parking lot down the street a ways while that jerk is still behind me. (And I just might slam on my brakes a little harder.)

    By the way, does anyone know where I can get a bumper sticker — er, tailgate sticker, actually — that says:

    in nice, big, easy-to-read letters?

  9. I’ll assume your old, underfunded guy was legit, Guardian.


    I’m aquainted with a gal (of diminished mental capacity) who regularly goes to the store, picks out what she would like to leave with, goes through the checkout line, and then, lo and behold, her funds are significantly short to complete the transaction. So she just stands there – hoping for a knight in blue-collar armor to step forward and be the hero. It usually works out for her.

    Another trick she uses – she breaks up cookies in a package, or snaps a candy bar in half, then takes it up to the cashier and asks if she can have it for a reduced price, since it’s damaged.

    I may be waxing cynical, but there are plenty of folks out there who are anxious to take advantage of the kindness of strangers.

  10. of diminished mental capacity …

    Really? Sounds pretty smart to me. Dunno why I didn’t think of it!

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