Like the dreaded dentist’s appointment, an unexpected trip to the auto mechanic rarely signals fun times ahead. Instead, car troubles fill our hearts with fear and, even worse, our wallets with emptiness. Three hundred dollars for a radiator hose?! Sure, I guess that sounds right… (*cries into checkbook*).
In early March, Keith Burkitt of Houston, Texas, was just like the rest of us: a driver putting off a trip to the auto repair shop.
As Burkitt told ABC affiliate KTRK, his car’s alignment was shot, but he knew that fixing it would cost a lot more than he could afford at the time. While speaking with a customer at the restaurant where he worked, Burkitt joked, “I had to turn my wheel all the way to the right just to make the car go straight.”
But what happened next was something right out of “Pay It Forward.” Despite the fact that he didn’t even know the server’s last name, the customer in question told Burkitt he had “a friend across the street who could fix it.”
Even more incredible?
The customer offered to pay Burkitt’s bill, no matter what it cost.
So the next morning, an astonished Burkitt took his car to the mechanic at the Exxon station the customer had mentioned. He replaced all four shocks and struts on Burkitt’s car, cleaned his fuel lines, and replaced his timing and serpentine belts. The total cost was a whopping $1,975.
True to his word, the near-stranger had already covered the bill in full. When Burkitt attempted to partially reimburse him, the stranger reminded him of the power of generosity:
“He just said, ‘I’m not taking no for an answer, just pay it forward someday,'” Burkitt told ABC News.
We’ve seen many instances of people “paying it forward”, even before #RAK16.
Don’t forget about the church that (literally) paid it forward by giving a pizza delivery guy a $700 tip, and the police officer who gave out presents instead of tickets one afternoon in December.
Whether it’s something as simple as holding a door for a stranger or donating blood or volunteering some of your time on the occasional weekend, stories like these can inspire each of us to better the world around us in small ways, because paying it forward can be about so much more than money.
This kind of story also makes me believe that every single human possesses true kindness. Maybe being the change you want to see in the world is not just some lofty ideal that we should all aspire to — maybe it’s actually just a matter of pure will.
So the next time your faith in humanity is rocked (which, given our current political climate, has probably already happened twice today alone), ask yourself what you can do to restore it.