August 6, 2015
Towards the end of the day, exhausted and frustrated, I was trying to run one more errand before I could seek the refuge of my home and shut the outside world away. I ran into the store and, after the cashier rang up the total, I realized I was $2 shy and this particular store only accepts cash. Feeling defeated, not just from this one errand but from a day of swimming upstream, I apologized, handed the item back, and turned to leave.
The store owner surprised me by pushing the item back towards me and saying, ‘don’t worry about it this time, pay it forward with an act of random kindness.’
Let’s be clear, I am very pro-capitalist and I’m not advocating that any of you start running your business on a ‘pay it forward’ model, but in that moment, that store owner, likely unbeknownst to him, got a customer for life. He had no way of knowing how rough my day had been. He easily could have simply said ‘sorry’ and I wouldn’t have held it against him or his store.
Instead, in a moment when I needed a ray of light, he surprised me where I least expected it. What’s more, the only thing he asked of me was to make someone else’s day better – how could I not feel uplifted with that goal now in front of me?
What’s more, from a business standpoint, his gesture so surprised me that he made it impossible for me to ever forget his company and it makes me want to recommend it to others. In a time when so many businesses look for marketing ‘tricks’ to help their business stand out, we often forget that it’s sometimes the smallest things that really make a huge impact and get noticed.