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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pay It Forward?

A young guy approached me on my way into Wendy's. He was no older than me. He asked me if I could spare a couple bucks for a sandwich.

"A sandwich here?" I asked, pointing to Wendy's. He said yes. I told him to come with me, that I'd buy him something. He wanted a Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger.

"Is that it?" I asked. "Don't you want anything else? Something to drink?"

"No," he said, "I'll get some water." Then he added, "Maybe a dollar five-piece?"

"Five-piece chicken nuggets?" I asked. He said yes. "No problem. Actually, I think I'll get the same thing."

I ordered two Jr. Bacon Cheeseburgers and two orders of the five-piece chicken nuggets.

"Is this to stay or to go?" asked the girl at the register.

I looked over my shoulder at the guy. "To go?" He said yes. "To go," I said, noticing the girl's strange expression.

"What kind of sauce would you like with your chicken nuggets?" she asked.

Before I could answer, the guy came up next to me and said quickly, "Sweet and sour." At least the guy knows his sauces.

"Okay," I nodded. "Sweet and sour."

Again, the girl's strange expression. "Is this... together?"

"Yes," I said, "it's together."

I paid. She went to get the order. When she came back, I clarified, "Separate bags."

"One of each in each?" she asked.

"Yes," I said. She gave us our bags.

"Could I have a cup for water?" the young guy asked. She gave him a cup of water. With ice.

"Thanks a lot, man," he said to me when the transaction was done.

"It's no problem," I said. Then, as I gathered my bag to leave, I thought to myself, I hope you pay it forward.

I then went out to my car to eat, where my fifty-cent Pepsi refill from the discount theater was waiting for me. Yes, I had planned this ahead. I'm trying not to spend too much, which is why I eat at places like Wendy's when I'm out. (I also love movies, which is why I'd been to the discount theater. I could go on justifying myself all day.)

As I was pulling out of the Wendy's parking lot, I almost ran over the same guy as he was leaving the restaurant. I waved at him, but he didn't seem to notice me, even looking right at me. I then realized this was because he was too busy trying to get away with the jacket he'd stolen.

I hadn't immediately noticed the jacket--it was pink and sort of puffy--not until an older woman and a younger female employee came after him. I couldn't hear anything, but I could see him trying to play it off like he'd found the jacket lying on the floor. Older woman wasn't buying it, so he sheepishly gave back the jacket and then took off down the street.

I drove away feeling a mixture of amusement, disappointment, and pity, my appetite temporarily sated, my skin-and-bones résumés sitting on the passenger seat.

I hope that guy's warm enough.


Michelle G. said...

You still did the right thing, even if he didn't. You should feel good about that.

Kapricious T said...

Thanks. I didn't personally feel bad about it. I just thought, gee, I haven't blogged in awhile, and this was out of the ordinary, so....