Thursday, March 28, 2013

This is a post about how awesome people are

This weekend, I finally finished a project for a former customer of mine. She had a garage-sale endtable that needed some sprucing--cracked finish, damaged hardware, wobbly legs--but would still be a pretty easy restoration project. It took a bit longer than expected and the end result wasn't exactly what I planned, but it still looked good.  Having spent a few hours on it and a few dollars on supplies, I decided I'd charge her $60 for the work I did, pending her satisfaction with the finished product.

She loved it. It turned out much better than she expected, especially given the few delays I'd informed her of, and she proudly began to arrange it in her living room. I told her the final bill and the caveat that if she didn't feel as though it was worth $60 to her, I'd take whatever she felt was fair.  She began writing the check and said that my price was more than fair and she'd round up a little bit. I reassured her that wasn't necessary, but she insisted. I began gratefully planning how I'd spend that extra 40 bucks, assuming she was going to round to $100.

She handed me two checks, explaining that the other was for my boss as a little extra tip for the good work we did on her living room floor and bathroom tile. I looked at one, reading, "Pay to the order of GMP the amount five hundred dollars." I began to explain that she'd written my name on the check she meant for my boss, stopping short when I saw the smile on her face. I began to protest but she instantly cut me off, reminding me that college was expensive and I'd earned that money, having done some odd jobs for her (none of which were worth anywhere near the $440 she'd tacked on to my bill).

I am not a speechless person. I generally have the words for most of my emotions. In fact, I'm far too chatty 99% of the time.  But in this moment, I had nothing to say. My mouth hung slack-jawed and I pawed at my brain to find something that could adequately describe the intense gratitude I felt then. After too long, I said, "Thank you. I've been stressing about paying for school and..." and then I trailed off again. I couldn't find the words.

I finished some of the other work I'd come over to do, offered another thanks and retired to my car, completely overcome. I did the math and found that she'd given me a 733.33% tip on my work, a tip that meant that I wouldn't have to buy my own groceries for a few months and that meant I had a little cushion in my savings for insurance deductibles, car repairs and the occasional Blockbuster movie or steak dinner. I sat behind my wheel, thinking about that gift, and alternated between overjoyed laughter and humble tears.

I must admit, I feel much more pressure to be a good person. When I told my dad, he said that she probably won't miss that $500 at all, that the positive effect it has on me outweighs any negative effects it'll have on her. In that wise, I'm wondering what I can do to pay it forward more. What small thing to me will make a big difference to others? For me and for now, I probably can't give much financially, but what can I give?

I'm just so humbled by her generosity and example. I hope I'll make them feel like their money was well-spent.


  1. glad to hear from you. I've been worrying about you what with the panic attacks and all. Glad to hear also that you have been so blessed, not just financially, but emotionally. you've inspired me to try to keep better track of my blessings, so I can have a more accurate picture of how God operates in my life ('cause I'm really good at noticing the hard lessons I'm left alone to learn; perhaps not as good at seeing all the help along the way.)

  2. I like that idea. That how you pay it forward might be in a completely different way, a small way to you that is big to someone else.

  3. So awesome!! When Ryan was mugged in Buffalo, one of his professors came up to him and shook his hand--and there was a $100 bill in his hand that he slid into Ryan's. He said, "I remember how poor we were when I was in dental school, and I am so sorry that you lost some of your possessions. Please use this money however you need to." It meant so much to us! People really are awesome!


Be nice, mmmmkay? I allow anonymous comments, but not anonymous (or even attributed) douchebaggery. The Gay Mormon Pioneer's tolerance for hate and venom are incredibly low, but his love of communication and debate are high, so have an opinion, but be kind and gentle when you share it.

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