Paying It Forward

Stacy - Clarendon Hills, Illinois
Entered on October 28, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

Sometimes the greatest random acts of kindness, are performed by complete strangers. I believe in the phrase “pay it forward.” Paying it forward means that when someone does something unexpectedly nice for you, instead of returning a favor, you would do something equally as generous for someone else. I had never heard of this phrase before Summer going into my Senior Year. I was busily packing for a week trip to Arizona to visit colleges. My mom was in California at the time, so she was just going to fly into Arizona, and meet me at the hotel. I got onto the plane with the intention of sleeping since it had been a long morning at a regularly busy O’Hare Airport, but quickly realized that sleeping would not be an option on the three hour plane ride. The woman that sat next to me and introduced herself as Marian, asked me every question possible of on topics ranging from what classes I have taken to what was on my Ipod. While she was a very nice woman, I honestly just wanted to listen to my music and relax before my upcoming jam-packed schedule. She saw that I was not in the mood for talking anymore, and shortly began reading her book. I glanced to see what it was, but I had never heard of it, so I just turned up my music and waited to land. As we got off the plane, I went over to the baggage claim to get my suitcase, and prepared myself for a long time of just waiting around. Soon after, I looked around, and saw I was standing completely alone. I went to talk to an employee named Kelsey, and after a stressful conversation, it was determined that my luggage had been lost, and it was definitely not at O’Hare. I wasn’t exactly sure what to do, so I called my mom, but realized that her flight had just taken off. She had arranged for a car to pick me up and take me to the hotel, but when I went to talk to him, he said that he could not wait much longer, for he had to pick someone else up at a different airport. I really didn’t know what to do since Kelsey told me not to leave the airport, and the driver was telling me that the ride was already paid for and if I didn‘t leave now, I wouldn‘t have a ride. My mom wouldn’t be arriving for another two hours, and sitting alone at an airport for the entire time was not something I wanted to do. I went outside for a minute to call a friend, and when I came back, the woman helping me with my luggage told me that another car had been paid for whenever I was ready to call. Confused, I walked over to her desk with her, as she handed me a book. “Pay It Forward” by Catherine Hyde was written on the front of a light blue paperback. Kelsey told me that a woman named Marian had left it for me and hoped that I read it and learn to “pay it forward.” After that, everything fell into place. My luggage had been accidentally sent to Kansas, and I would have it by the morning. From then on, I remember the act of paying it forward everyday.