Pay it forward

I had a pay it forward experience tonight. I took Reagan and one of her friends to see Enchanted. We’re standing in this insanely long line that extends nearly to the end of the parking lot. The girls are jumping around to stay warm and I’m thinking that might not be a bad idea, except I’m over 30 and it might look like I’m crazy.

 I vaguely remember that this theater does not take credit cards. (As an aside, I never carry cash. Who uses that anymore? And why would a theater–who is clearly out to suck you dry with the prices of their tickets and junk food — not accept credit cards? Pay the 3% fee and take my card!) I ask the family in front of us and they confirm my fear. They offer to give me cash if I can write them a check. I don’t carry checks either (we got our checks in 2003 with our Virginia address and still haven’t come close to using them all).

I’ve decided to stay in line though hoping there’s an ATM inside the building. This would make great sense seeing that people like me would gladly withdraw 20s with abandon and happily pay huge service fees–just let me buy your tickets and huge buckets of buttery popcorn, candy and coke! If there’s not an ATM then we’ll just go to Blockbuster, where they do take credit cards, and rent…it’ll be cheaper anyway.

We make it inside and are thawing out, still waiting in line. The family in front of us asks about the ATM. The theater not only doesn’t take credit cards but are intent to reject outright people like me. How could they not have an ATM? The father in the family turns around and hands me a $20 bill. I’m flabbergasted. He’s clearly taken by how sweet and precious the two girls with me are. They can’t be rejected with no movie at this stage. I tried to hand him the little cash I did have (which came from R’s friend’s mother or else I would have had none) but he wouldn’t take it. A true selfless gift.

I almost started crying. There was no need for this family to continue to converse with us past the initial “does this place take credit cards?” But they offered to pay our way and not even ask for change in return. I said “God bless you” after the dad told me “Merry Christmas.”

It may be silly feeling so grateful to have someone grant us access into a movie theater, especially when I have the money to get in, just not in a format this theater accepts. Maybe humbling is a better word than silly. It did make me want to run out at the earliest convenience and PAY IT FORWARD to someone else.
So, I will be looking for the soonest oportunity to pass on this selfless act of generosity…even if it’s for something as silly as a movie ticket.

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