Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Pay it Forward....


Elbow deep in my bag on my arm, my fingers walked  quickly  over the contents, quickly identifying and then rejecting each item in a blind attempt to locate my wallet.

The last few items beeped through the scanner as drops of sweat formed and slowly rolled down the back of my shirt.
 
The cashier shifted from one foot to the other, letting out an audible sigh. She shared a knowing smirk with the growing line behind me.
 
"It's in here somewhere".  My purse puddled on the counter in front of me, I continued to dig, feeling a flash of warmth ricochet around my body.  My hand returned over and over to my sister's wallet that I was carrying for her as she scanned the birthday cards for an appropriate selection.
 
"Let me grab my sister."
 
As I bolted from the cashier line, I saw her heading my way and waved her forward.  The line collectively shook there heads.
 
I quickly filled her in on the missing wallet, asked her to pay and we left with our purchases.
 
Back at the car we did a quick under seat/trunk search but didn't see the wallet.  We decided to get the groceries home as the spouse was waiting for some for dinner he was making for us and do a thorough search then. 
 
We discussed the mystery on the way.  As we neared home, my sister said something that triggered a memory.  Something like, "You wouldn't put it anywhere stupid!  You had it at the checkout and put it in your purse.  I saw that.  Why would you take you wallet out again?"
 

One turn away from being on my street, it hit me.  I slammed on the breaks as a molten hot wave of horror, shame and disbelief washed over my body.
 
"I know where my wallet is"
 
I was thirsty.  It was hot. The car had no air conditioning. I put my purse in the trunk and took out my wallet to buy a cold drink for the 25 min drive home.  The car was too hot to sit in right away.  I put my wallet down,  opened my door and stood for a few moments.  Then I eased in to the front seat, started the car and put down all windows and opened the sunroof.  My sister hopped in and I closed my door and we left. 
 
I had put my wallet down before getting in. 
I had put my wallet down......
ON THE ROOF!

This was an opportunity to put in to practice so many of the things I have been working on.  So I slowed my breathing and tried to check in with the now hysterical team of gremlins trying to launch a full scale panic attack  by pushing all the big red buttons. 

Shame.      Fear.       Anger.

It is just a wallet.  It is a thing.  It had no money in it.  I only have two credit cards so that will be easy to cancel.  I can get a new bank card tonight.  I have my passport for id so that will help.  I can call the store to see if it fell of in the parking lot (not likely since I was driving so slow--but can't hurt to try).  Shit happens...of this I am sure.  Happening on my sister's birthday while we were making a nice dinner is not great timing...but few things are.  The Spouse has done dumb things--and so have I in the past--this didn't hurt anyone.
 
So I cancelled my credit cards after speaking with some cheery customer support people--who were kind enough not to laugh at me-- and we decided to eat dinner and then the Spouse would drive me back the scene and we would take a look around. 
 
Dinner was delicious!  Beef ribs so tender. I have never tasted better!  Fresh Ontario corn on the cob and red skinned BBQ roasted potatoes.  I ate every bite, moans of contentment punctuated the otherwise silent table as we all enjoyed our meal.
 
Driving back to the store, the Spouse and I chatted. We seldom get time alone so the drive allowed us to talk a bit....tease each other about things we had done that were not in our best interest, like this.  I checked my phone to see I had one missed call and retrieved it hoping it was the store saying they had found my wallet.  Instead, it was a constable from a local police station, who informed me that someone had seen my wallet fall off the car, stopped and picked it up, and turned it in.  I quickly called them back, got their location (which was quite a bit beyond the store we had been at) and told them we were on our way.
 
The contents of my wallet were complete.  Nothing missing.  I was overjoyed.  As the constable went to retrieve the person's name who found it, gratitude flooded my body, leaving me wet eyed and tingly.  That someone would do this for a complete stranger---such kindness and selflessness.  We are all connected and that single act of kindness reminded me that one person can make a difference in my life.  The power of reaching out, connecting with a complete stranger in a way where you affect the profoundly, but never even meet them was amazing.  I felt the hand of the universe involved in this one and a smile on its face.  Now you get it.
 
For me, it will be pay-it-forward.  Take this experience and translate it in to what I can do for someone else.  Share the experience with others...connect..
 
My sister works at a daycare---private not a chain---and with full day kindergarten scooping up the little ones into the system, enrollment in her daycare is down and money is tight.  So before she left, I went through the all the old toys my kids had outgrown and filled her car.  I had been thinking garage sale....or ebay for some of the better items, but this seemed like the right thing to do.  These toys had provided hours of fun for my children ---why not give that gift to someone else?  Connection.  Me to them my kids to tem---. I won't ever see these kids but hopefully, my pay-it-forward will impact them in some small way.
 
Lessons learned:
#1 Mindfulness - be present with my thoughts and actions. 
#2 Self-compassion - I am not perfect
#3 Gratitude/Joy - It can be overwhelming but stay there and feel it
#4 Resiliency - having #1, #2 and #3 helped me enjoy dinner with my sister on her birthday and helped me recognize I had the strength to follow through with what would have been a long project of replacing all my I.D.
#5 Always keep your wallet in your purse. That thing is too heavy to fall off the car! 
 
As always, I am a Work in Progress....
 

2 comments:

  1. Wow, Brigid. What an awesome story! I love seeing how you are taking what you have been learning and applying it to real life and circumstances and living it out. Go you!

    I also love the idea of paying it forward. Isn't it neat how one person's act of kindness can create a ripple of love? You don't even know this person that turned in your wallet, but because they did this selfless and kind thing, now you have been blessed and felt the desire to bless someone else. Those little kids will have cool toys at school all because you made a mistake and left your wallet on your car roof!! I love hearing stories like this.

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  2. Thanks for the words of encouragement. There was one point where I was sitting on the couch, on hold with a credit card company cancelling my card and I felt so defeated. I looked at my son and he said--it'll be ok mom. Later he gave me a hug. It made me aware that handling the situation without bawling or getting angry sent a message to my kids that you can get through things and sometimes, sometimes, things are not the worst case scenario---and even if it is---you will find a way through it.

    The kids also learn about sharing with others....and get that wonderful feeling of knowing they helped someone else. It was all around a humbling experience!

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