The blessing of ‘paying it forward’


I have long believed in the premise of “paying it forward” long before the movie of the same name came out.

The feeling of doing something nice for someone, especially a total stranger, and their never knowing it was you, is richly rewarding.

I have a December birthday and one of the local restaurants had emailed me a coupon for a free hamburger. Now, their hamburgers are priced at $10, and, yes, it comes with fries. I picked out one that came with melted Swiss cheese and mushrooms.

Feeling that I should pay for something, I chose tiramisu and a cup of coffee for desert. In the meantime, a pleasant young man, about 24 years old, came in and sat facing me several tables away. Though we made eye contact several times, he devoured his entree and left.

I got my wallet out to pay for my desert, and my server informed me that nice young man had paid my bill.

I was speechless for a moment and felt twice blessed — once because a young person honored an old, white, gray-haired grandmother, and secondly, because someone else in the world believed in “Paying It Forward,” albeit someone at least 50 years younger than me. I predict you will go far, young man.

[Carolyn Cary is the official Fayette County historian and the editor of the county’s first compiled history, “The History of Fayette County,” published in 1977. She lives in Fayetteville.]