Our “Pay It Forward” Pay Day

pay it forward We had a remarkable and unexpected experience on our trip. After driving from Anaheim, we decided to stop for lunch on our way to Vegas. We planned to go to Victorville, but our five-year-old’s tiny bladder made us stop a bit sooner, in Hesperia, CA. Her tiny bladder actually made our day.
I had been looking forward to the Chinese food that I knew we could get in Victorville, so I was disappointed when we pulled into the Denny’s instead. Plus, I had a huge headache, and I knew we still had many hours of driving to go. We told the kids that chicken nuggets, burgers or fries were not an option since we’d had too much of them in Mickey’s paradise. So my eleven-year-old says, “I’ll have the t-bone steak and shrimp.” What? I don’t think so.
I thought of many reasons why he couldn’t have it. It was lunch time, not dinner; he is only eleven, after all; that is too much food for one person. The list goes on. But, since I didn’t want to elucidate all those reasons right then, I just fell back on the standard.
“I’m sorry, bugs, but it’s too expensive.” True. And that was a main reason. But all the other reasons factored in, too. So he starts saying, “But it’s the only thing I like that isn’t a burger!” After a slight meltdown, he finally ordered a Lumberjack Slam (and ate every bite but the biscuit, oink oink), and we got the other kid’s food ordered as well. As we were waiting for our food, a woman in a booth right next to our table kept looking over at us. I assumed that she was annoyed with our large and boisterous family. I know I was, as was evidenced by my two Dr. Pepper refills. Four hungry kids who had been cooped up in the car don’t make for a quiet bunch.
The woman and her party left. Sometime later we finished our meal. I told my hubby to go fill up the gas tank while I stayed with the two who were still eating and paid the bill. The waitress, a sweet lady named Bridget, saw me get out the credit card, and she bustled over to surprise us with the last thing we thought we’d hear that day.
Bridget said, “Do you remember that woman in the booth over there?” We both nodded our assent. I was secretly thinking she was going to lecture us for ruining that woman’s lunch. And I wouldn’t have blamed her in the least. But she went on, “Well, she bought a $100 gift card for you. She said I should use it to pay for your meal and give you the balance to spend another time.”
Our jaws dropped open. We couldn’t believe that we had been the recipient of such kindness from a complete and total stranger. A hundred dollars is a lot of money to just give to a random family. We don’t know her name. We don’t know if she lives in Hesperia or if she was just passing through like us.
She only knew what she saw. A large family whose parents looked completely tired and done in with kids who were in need of a good meal. And she provided that for us.
We are already planning our own pay it forward moment. My son suggested that we pick a young couple and treat them anonymously . He’s heard us speak many times about how we were too poor to buy both ketchup and mayonnaise when we first got married and had a ten minute existential dilemma in the grocery store trying to decide which was more important. But wherever we do it, I can only hope that the recipients are as grateful, and as surprised, as we were. A great big thank you to the woman in Hesperia, CA who made our day. You were our angel in disguise. I can only hope this post gets back to you somehow.


One thought on “Our “Pay It Forward” Pay Day

  1. Pingback: Yo Ho, Yo Ho, This Pirate’s Got to Pee! | Wootton Wonders and Woes

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