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Encounter with a ‘pay it forward’ moment was truly a blessing

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Robert Blair

Robert Blair

Paying it forward is like giving a smile — it’s easy to do.

The gesture often presents itself in various opportunities and situations. I encountered one of those opportunities recently, and it was truly a blessing.

I’ll tell more about the situation in a bit, but first a little history and perspective. 

“Pay it forward” is an ancient phrase found in Greek comedies,

Benjamin Franklin letters and the Ralph Waldo Emerson 

1841 essay “Compensation.” 

Simply put, it can be an act of kindness or deed practiced in succession.

It is noted that the actual phrase “pay it forward” was  coined in 1916

by author Lily Hardy Hammond in her novel “In the Garden of Delight.”

She proclaimed, “You don’t pay love back, you pay it forward.”

A 1999 novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde features a character who launches

a “pay it forward” campaign based on spreading acts of kindness everywhere.

The novel was later adapted in a film in 2000 and it became a phrase

known by all to all. It also inspired “Pay it Forward Day” on April 28.

Franklin and Williamson County have long been noted for residents’ generosity. 

Whether through churches, nonprofits, businesses and Individuals, you can count on Williamson Countians to pay it forward.

I recently attend the 10-year anniversary of One Generation Away, a local nonprofit started by Chris and Elaine Whitney. It provides food and prayer to families, individuals, communities, schools and fellow nonprofits, among other recipients.

The amazing blessing they are to not only this community, but

the areas they have expanded into is a perfect example of paying it forward. If you know their story, you will certainly agree.

Now, back to my encounter in a “pay it forward” moment.

After leaving the Spring Hill High School graduation recently and driving back to Franklin, I drove into the Taco Bell on Columbia Avenue. I

ordered soft tacos and pulled to the drive-thru window to pay.

The two young ladies at the window said to me, “Your food was paid for.”

Immediately I asked by whom. They pointed to a vehicle pulling off.

My response to them and to myself was, I don’t know that person or recognize the car. 

The young ladies said people had been paying it forward by doing this for the past 30 minutes or so.

Momentarily I was saddened, because there was no car behind me. But just as I was about to pull off, a car approached the window. I quickly stated that I wanted to pay it forward; the ladies said their bill is twice as much as mine — to which I replied, “Pay it forward.” They laughed and said have a great evening. 

I’m not sure how long this went on, but I hope in whatever way you can, if you get the chance, pay it forward and don’t look back.

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