Paying It Forward

by derek on March 29, 2007 · 17 comments

This morning I stopped to get gas on my way to work and as I pulled into the station there was a woman walking towards the car parked in front of mine and she flashed me a nice smile. Thinking that I must be looking rather handsome this morning, I realized I was wrong when she approached me to ask if I could spare a few dollars to help her pay for gas. 🙂
With my bubble now burst, I listened to her explain that they needed to get to a town that is about 50 miles away from where we were but they did not have any money for gas. As she explained the situation, she mentioned another woman that was coming over to put a few dollars of gas in using her debit card.
As I started pumping my own gas, I told her that I would give her a few dollars but I didn’t have much on me. I handed her the four singles that I had in my pocket at the time and she thanked me. While my gas continued to pump, I witnessed her approach a few additional people and most of them turned her down.
Then I noticed that there were two more people in the car and the one in the backseat was feeding a small baby in a carseat. When I saw the small baby in the car, I really felt that I should do more for these people so once my tank was full, I walked over to their pump and proceeded to fill up their tank.
The woman that I originally gave the $4 to came over and I told her that I would give them a full tank. She told me that I could stop the pump whenever but I told her that I would go ahead and fill the tank completely so they were set. When she told the people in the car that I was filling the tank for them, the driver commented that I shouldn’t do more than about $35 because she thought the gas tank had a hole in it and anything more would likely leak out.
As the pump approached $35, I stopped the pump and completed the transaction. The woman thanked me again for being so generous and I wished them well and requested they return the favor to someone else if they were ever able to do so. It felt good to be in a position to help someone out that was in need.
However, those feelings turned a little grim when they pulled away and I noticed a large puddle of gasoline where their vehicle had been and a steady stream of gas leaking from the vehicle. These people are basically driving a ticking fire bomb that has the potential to explode at any moment with gasoline leaking from the underside. By the time I got in my car and had a break in traffic to try and catch up to them, they were nowhere in site. Hopefully they made it wherever they were going safe and sound and find a way to repair the gas tank.
To all of you, try and be grateful for the people and things that you have in your life and pay it forward to someone in need whenever you are able.

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Kelly Cho March 29, 2007 at 4:27 pm

Would be ironic if the car caught on fire and you thought you were doing a good thing but in fact put them in danger. I’m sorry, that’s terrible, I’m mean.
But anyway, have you seen the movie? I love it when I can do someone a favor but I don’t know if they ever pay it forward… it would be nice to track those favors down just to see how it affects people.


derek March 29, 2007 at 4:42 pm

You’re so mean! 😉 Honestly, I felt terrible after seeing that and had wished I stopped pumping at $10-$15 as then it might not have been leaking.
I’ve seen bits and pieces of the movie and am ashamed to admit that I have seen more of the concept on the Oprah show (I’ll blame that on my wife, she was watching it…yeah that’s it).
But I do feel extremely fortunate to be in the position I am in and to have the things I have so anything I can do to help another is well worth it even if that person may never pay it forward themselves.


Ed Lau April 2, 2007 at 9:07 pm

Way to salt his game, Kelly. LOL!
I must admit, you’re a nicer man than I am. I give to charity and such but I barely ever give anything to anyone just on the street.


derek April 2, 2007 at 9:11 pm

Ed, sometimes the moment just hits and I feel like I can do more for other people beyond the normal charitable giving.
It’s usually small things because I am by no means wealthy but am very fortunate to have the things and people in my life that I do and I am grateful for that every day.


Gary Lee March 29, 2007 at 4:42 pm

if there was ever a feel good depressing story, this would be it! Hopefully they made it to the next town safely!


derek March 29, 2007 at 4:46 pm

You guys are killing me! I’ll be watching the news closely and reading the paper to see if there are any truck explosions reported but since they made it a few miles away from the station without incident I am hoping for the best.
Hopefully none of them were smokers.


Kelly Cho March 29, 2007 at 7:12 pm

LOL! Oh my goodness, this is hilarious. So sorry to make you feel guilty for doing a good thing!!!


Melanie March 30, 2007 at 8:16 am

This is the sort of storey which gives you a warm, happy feeling initially and then cruely rips it from you just as quick!!! LOL Hopefully all was well though!


derek March 30, 2007 at 8:19 am

Well I didn’t see anything on the news last night or in the paper this morning about a vehicle exploding so I’m thinking everything was okay.
Had I just been cheap and only put in $10 or something, it likely wouldn’t have been leaking at all. Honestly, you have no idea how terrible I felt when I saw that gas leaking from their truck.


Armen March 30, 2007 at 11:31 am

If it has been like that for some time, the money wasted on fuel would pay to fix the tank!
It was good of you to act on your conscience Derek…that’s a rare thing these days!


derek March 30, 2007 at 1:45 pm

Thanks Armen! The one woman did comment that she couldn’t remember a time the tank was ever full and maybe the hole in the tank had something to do with that. 🙂


Scot Smith April 2, 2007 at 2:13 am

Sorry, but I couldn’t help but laugh out loud for several minutes after thinking about gas flying out from the car and you weaving in and out trying to chase them through traffic to give them the warning.
That was very generous, though.
— Scot


derek April 2, 2007 at 10:05 am

Thanks Scot and I am glad that I could contribute to a few moments of laughter for you. It was literally like a scene from a movie – Leo, I call dibs on that role for my acting debut!


Everyday Weekender April 2, 2007 at 9:05 pm

I don’t know.. lets just hope everyones alive 😉


derek April 2, 2007 at 9:08 pm

I’m pretty confident that there were no problems, at least on that day. I’m sure something like that would have made the local paper and probably the nightly news as well.


Shawn Knight April 3, 2007 at 3:31 am

So im just now reading through your story… waiting for the point when you realized you had been scammed and they had been running that scam all day and made a lot of money.
Then it took a turn and im thinking, aww ok what a nice thing to do for someone who is truly in need…
Then the ending, wow, im hoping those folks actually did make it safely to their destination.
So my questions.. what kind of truck was it? Very old?
BTW you could have just followed the trail of gas to find them lol… ok that was terrible 🙁


derek April 3, 2007 at 8:30 am

It looked to be a mid-80’s Chevy Blazer but it was kind of hard to tell through all of the rust. It was rust orange with a few yellow patches of paint here and there.


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