Service of Paying it Forward

January 21st, 2016

Categories: Good Samaritan, Paying it Forward

Pay it forward

Yesterday I was in line at the cashier at the Amish Market, a gourmet grocery store best known for prepared foods, deli products, super sandwiches, giant barrels of olives, toothsome pastries, muffins and cakes, coffee—all sorts of goodies. Holding my hot soup container and a bag of rolls in one hand I groped in my handbag for my turquoise wallet which, due to its size and color, is easy to find–but it wasn’t there.

When it was my turn I asked the cashier to put aside what I wanted to buy, explained why, and went to an empty space out of her way but nearby so she could check out the others and I could look in my bag with two hands.

Olives at Amish MarketThe cashier said, “She wants to pay,” and I replied without looking up, “No thanks, I’m good,” thinking that I’d run next door—my office is in the adjacent building–and borrow money from the doorman or one of the tenants in my office.

Once I was satisfied that my wallet wasn’t there, and I’d called home to confirm I’d not left it behind, I said, “I’ll be right back” to the cashier. She handed me a bag with the soup and rolls in it and repeated, “That woman already paid!”

Amish MarketI’d been so busy fretting as I looked for my wallet that I didn’t even see what the Good Samaritan looked like. I asked the cashier if she could identify her, hoping she was a regular. I wanted to thank her [and return her money]. The cashier said there are too many customers, she wouldn’t remember.

I feel guilty especially for not thanking or in any way recognizing the woman’s generosity and kindness as I was busy worrying about the repercussions of the lost wallet while hoping that it would magically appear. Has something like this happened to you? What would you do at this point to rectify the situation if you were in my shoes?

 I feel guilty box


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12 Responses to “Service of Paying it Forward”

  1. Donna Boyle Schwartz Said:

    Donna wrote on Facebook: Wow–and people say New Yorkers are lousy–but not in our experience! If the store has a community bulletin board, write a thank you note and post it–and buy something for someone else.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I will ask if they have such a bulletin board, but I’ve not seen it and I’m in there almost daily for one or another thing. Great idea!

  3. ASK Said:

    Stop fretting…A lost wallet is enough anxiety; missing an opportunity to say “thank you” is one missed opportunity; don’t add guilt to the mix. The lady who paid obviously knew you were stressed. If you happen to see her again in the market (possible—NYC can be a small city), then say “thank you.” And if you see someone in a similar situation, you can help out.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Trouble is, I never looked up as I sorted through my bag and spoke only with the cashier, hardly looking at her as I kept looking for my wallet…I wouldn’t know what the woman looked like!

    I’ve been able to help others at times [though not to this extent] and will continue to look for opportunities to do so. But it still doesn’t set things right for the generous woman who didn’t even get a grateful smile in return!

  5. hb Said:

    What I nice story! I think you should just say thanks, which you have done by writing this post. In a troubled world, I found your tale cheering in all the gloom.

    Thank you.

  6. BG Said:

    What a wonderful story. Did you find your wallet?

  7. Jeanne Byington Said:


    It was next to my desk. I broke my eyeglasses and am using the backup pair that live in a case. I am discombobulated by this change and in digging for the eyeglass case in my bottomless handbag I must have pulled out the wallet and left it on a table.

  8. JM Said:

    Well yesterday my daughter-in-law came up to meet me @ the doctor’s office – a thoughtful act, indeed.
    When I drove her to Metro North to return home, the train was arriving & just when she went up the steps she heard that my battery died. I refused to let her come down again. As a result I didn’t get a chance to thank her for her good deed.

    The Metro North workers who were there helped me out & charged my battery w/ their cables. As the train pulled out my “daughter” took a picture of the help the 2 men gave me. I was able to tip them; they were so pleasant.

    As I was not to turn the motor off I drove to a local auto parts shop & was lucky to get a new battery replacement. I do know how to return her kindness when I see her next time.

  9. Jeanne Byington Said:


    The stars must have been aligned just right for both of us yesterday!

    Great story with so many good deeds! You are very fortunate to have such a wonderful daughter in law and to have been able to thank the Metro North workers who helped you. Further, you were lucky that the auto parts store had a battery.

    Your daughter in law knew why you didn’t thank her again profusely on the spot and no doubt was grateful that there were two Metro North staffers to help you.

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I just returned from the Amish Market and gave a hard copy of the post to the manager. He said he might have been able to trace the sale, if paid for by credit card, had I bought something with a barcode, like a jar of mustard or jam. As I bought their soup and rolls, no barcode. In any case, he also has my business card, should he learn anything about the mystery wonderful woman, and that’s the best I can do. The store does not have a bulletin board as Donna Boyle Schwartz suggested in her comment.

  11. Lucrezia Said:

    Sitting there feeling guilty is one of the most useless, negative and nonproductive activities conceivable. It never makes the so called guilty party feel better, and it doesn’t help the real or imaginary victim(s).

    Everyone makes mistakes, whether or not intentional, and upon realization, an attempt to make reparation makes much better sense. If that’s not possible, then how about a random act of kindness to an unsuspecting party — anonymously, if possible.

    Long ago, someone invented guilt, and like some virus, it never went away. Too bad he/she wasn’t shot!

  12. Jeanne Byington Said:


    If I could discover a guilt antidote, I’d be in clover and so happy myself!

    What drives me nuts about this instance is that I find entitled people more than irritating and I so hope that the Good Samaritan didn’t interpret my non-reaction as that. I also hope that what ASK wrote in an earlier comment–“The lady who paid obviously knew you were stressed”–is accurate.

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