Paying It Forward…With Gas

Last week I was waiting for gas prices to make one more drop, but the timing was off. I knew I’d have to get gas to tide me over. I decided to get $10 (at $2.39/gallon) which would last me for more than a few days until the next price drop was due. Before work, I left a few minutes early so that I could stop and get gas. It was still dark, with few cars on the road, when I pulled into my nearby gas station.

As I got out of my car , a woman approached me. “Ma’am?” she asked. She looked like a frazzled mom – sweatpants askew, hair mussed. She had come from the minivan across the aisle, so I assumed she was tired and left her wallet at home. I went to pull a ten dollar bill from my purse to give her, when she said, “Do you mind if I pay for $10 in gas for you?”

I stared at her, not quite sure I heard her correctly. “What?”

“Last week someone was kind enough to buy $10 in gas for me, and I told her I would pay it forward. So I’d like to buy $10 in gas for you this morning.”

“Um, sure!”

Her face broke into a grin and she ran inside to pre-pay for me. Sure enough, within moments I saw, “Dispenser reserved,” pop up on the screen of my gas pump. She came out and handed me the receipt.

“Happy holidays!” she said cheerily as I thanked her and told her I’d be sure to pay it forward myself.

I thought it was awesome that I had just decided to get $10 in gas to hold me over, and here a woman magically appeared asking if she could buy $10 in gas on my behalf. Very cool.

On Sunday I was coming home with CB from the movies when it was finally time to get gas. Prices had dropped (to $2.29 – woot!) and I was near empty. I pulled into the gas station and after filling my own car I stood for a minute waiting for a new car to pull in. After only a minute or so, a van pulled up a couple aisles over. I jogged over just as a woman was getting out.

“Ma’am?” I asked.

She turned and looked at me, a mild frown of concern on her face.

“Hey. Do you mind if I pay for some of your gas? I’d like to pay for $10 in gas for you today.”

“What?” she asked in surprise.

“Someone bought gas for me a few days ago, and I told her I would pay it forward and buy gas for someone else. So I’d like to buy some for you. $10 worth. Is that okay?”

Her face went from a frown to a huge grin. “Well, sure!”

I went in and paid cash for the gas, taking a receipt. When I went outside she was telling the woman the next car over what was happening. I handed her the receipt showing it was paid for, and without hesitation she wrapped me in a big bear hug and said, “You have made my day! Thank you!”

And with that I hopped back in my car and drove home with CB. Do I think she’ll pay it forward with someone else? I’d like to think so. You never know. But either way, it felt good that I made someone’s day, just like the woman last week made mine

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