Pay­ing it For­ward

A trail of lov­ing deeds



1 most to me is how simple the phi­los­o­phy is. Yet it’s still of­ten dif­fi­cult to be al­tru­is­tic and do some­thing for some­one just be­cause some­one has helped you, or be­cause you want the cy­cle to con­tinue.

So many times in my per­sonal life I’ve been stuck and in need of help, and some­one helped me out. When I was 19 years old and leav­ing In­dia af­ter a two-year stint as a vol­un­teer, I was crushed. I loved the work I did with the un­der­priv­i­leged chil­dren, the deaf, and the re­lief work I had been in­volved in. Pack­ing my suit­case wasn’t easy ei­ther. I’d ac­cu­mu­lated a lot of things dur­ing my stay, and there were air­line re­stric­tions in how much I could carry, so I down­sized my be­long­ings to fit into one big suit­case, a smaller car­ry­ing bag, and my guitar.

I ar­rived at the New Delhi air­port three hours early with a heavy heart; I was sad to be leav­ing, sad to be say­ing good­bye to the things and peo­ple I had grown fond of.

I’d called ahead of time and learned that I was en­ti­tled to bring up to 32 ki­los, and that my guitar would count as ad­di­tional carry-on bag­gage. Well,

when I ar­rived at the check-in desk, the lady said that for that par­tic­u­lar flight I could only take 23 ki­los and that my guitar could not be con­sid­ered carry-on bag­gage. She said my small carry-on bag was also too heavy.

I was stuck. I couldn’t af­ford to pay the over­weight, and I couldn’t be­lieve that they were now telling me some­thing dif­fer­ent from when I’d first contacted the of­fice.

I asked to talk to the over­seer. As I waited, I no­ticed that he seemed very up­set about some­thing; he was talk­ing in­tensely to three dif­fer­ent peo­ple, and I just knew I’d ar­rived at a bad time. I prayed des­per­ately for God to do some­thing, as I didn’t know what else I could do. My friends who had driven me to the air­port had al­ready left, and I didn’t know how to get rid of my clothes and/or my guitar, if I needed to.

The over­seer very briskly asked me what I wanted. I tried to ex­plain my predica­ment as pre­cisely as I could, and asked if he could waive the fee for over­weight, as I couldn’t af­ford to pay it. He re­fused to al­low for an ex­cep­tion and told me that if I didn’t pay, my op­tions were ei­ther to miss my flight or throw my “ex­tra” stuff in the trash so that I could make the flight.

You can imag­ine how I felt. Dev­as­tated. Indig­nant. Frus­trated. Won­der­ing why this was hap­pen­ing to me. It wasn’t my fault that the air­line of­fice had given me the wrong in­for­ma­tion. I felt that it would be a simple thing for the over­seer to just say “yes,” es­pe­cially af­ter hear­ing that I was a vol­un­teer who’d given two years to help the peo­ple of his coun­try.

That’s when some­one asked me what was wrong. I ex­plained the whole story, from the rea­son I’d been liv­ing in In­dia to my cur­rent predica­ment. I also ex­plained that I’d asked the su­per­vi­sor for help, but that he didn’t seem to be in the mood for help­ing.

This gentle­man, I dis­cov­ered, worked with another air­line and knew the su­per­vi­sor. He went to ask him if he would al­low me on with the over­weight bag­gage. The su­per­vi­sor said he had big­ger prob­lems to take care of.

This man ap­peared to be deep in thought and then said to me, “I’m go­ing to cover the fee for your over­weight. I’m also tak­ing this flight, and it would be a shame for you to miss it, af­ter all you’ve done for my peo­ple!”

I was shocked, relieved, and very thank­ful.

Dur­ing our long flight, I sat next to this man, and he ex­plained that when he was younger, about my age, he’d found him­self in a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion. Some­one had come by and asked him if he needed help. He’d ex­plained his dilemma, and the gentle­man had paid his train fare and asked him to pay it for­ward.

He said that when he saw me pace back and forth at the air­port, he felt bad for me, as he had three daugh­ters. One of them was on her way to the UK that day, and he pic­tured how she would have felt if she was the one stuck and in need of help, and that was why he de­cided to help me.

He felt good that he had, be­cause not only had he been per­son­ally helped when he was younger, and felt that it was his turn to pay it for­ward, but also be­cause he knew it was the right thing to do. He said he knew that God is al­ways watch­ing, and if his daugh­ters were ever in a tight sit­u­a­tion, he knew God would work some­thing out for them too.

This man paid it for­ward, saved my day, and made a real im­pact in my life. Since then, I’ve al­ways done my best to help and give to peo­ple. I know it’s the right thing to do, but it’s also be­cause some­one did it for me. We give from our heart and pass on to oth­ers the kind­ness that has been shown us.

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