Pay It Forward
During one of our recent Philadelphia blizzards, I was driving along an unplowed road and accidentally hit a curb. After throwing out a couple of choice expletives, I thought to myself, "Gosh, I hope I don't get a flat tire because of this." Once I resumed driving, I quickly turned my attention to the dashboard and watched my tire pressure tick down from 36, to 28, to 15-you get the idea. Fortunately, I found an undercover parking garage, pulled in and parked. The pressure quickly went to 5 and then 0.
I wondered how I was going to square this away. My roadside assist was not going to come out in a foot of snow. I asked the garage attendant for help and he quickly told me, "No, go ask security." I asked the security guy, and he said, "Uh, nope can't help you," while he finished his smoke. Then, I asked two wildly bearded twenty-something hipster dudes who happened to be passing by and I got a, "Sure, why not we know how to change a tire." In about 10 minutes, they had the spare on and me on my way. After offering them a couple of bucks as a thank-you, Rich and Dave (we were on a first-name basis now) both resoundingly said, "Nah, we can't take that-just pay it forward" and disappeared back into the snowy Philadelphia night.
These two restored my faith in what has been dubbed one of the most dangerous cities in America, and in the Gen Y's that the media has labeled as narcissistic. But, they also prompted me to give deeper thought to "paying it forward" and what that truly means in day-to-day living. Since that incident, I have paid it forward in some small ways, and in charitable ways. Of course I'm now thinking about business. In an industry that has access to products that land in overstock, discontinued and dead on the shelves, how can we provide simple assistance across communities?