Paying at the
was visiting my local bank branch the other day. Our family needed
the help of a notary public to witness signature of a document we
had received. The customer service representative, Harriett, who
I’ve gotten to know during the past year, was helping someone so I
sat down in one of the waiting area chairs to wait my turn. I
picked up a magazine and started to read a car review, but couldn’t
help but hear a good part of the conversation Harriett was having
with her customer behind me.
It turned out the woman Harriett was speaking with had generated a
number of extra charges due to the Overdraft protection she had for
her account (she had been buying medicine). The customer wasn’t
complaining about her situation, but she was trying to understand
what had happened. Apparently Harriett knew the lady pretty well
and the two worked out how the woman could repay, over time, her
current fees. The lady left and I never did turn around to see her.
My turn came. Harriett notarized the document and I left, still
thinking about the woman who I had never seen. That afternoon I had
a strong sense that I had missed something. Maybe I had missed an
opportunity. I called Harriett back the next morning and asked
about her customer from the day before.
The customer was Peggy. Among her many high qualities, Peggy was a
real pet lover. She was known for taking in strays and she lived
very frugally with her husband, not too far from where I did.
Harriett mentioned that she and Peggy had known one another for
about five years, and that Harriett had used her own discretion and
removed many of the extra fees the bank had applied to Peggy’s
account. Harriett said Peggy was now very sick from the smoking
habit she had when she was younger. Thinking about it I remembered
how much Peggy had been coughing the day before.
I told Harriett about Pay-It-Forward and how I wanted to meet
Peggy. I didn’t know where the meeting might lead, but I asked if
she would be willing to make an introduction. Harriett called Peggy
and set up a time for us to meet back at the bank.
When I saw Peggy it was clear that she was very sick. We sat and
got to know one another for about an hour. She had been through a
number of health struggles over the last twenty years. She had
become unable to pay for the medicine she needed for her lung and
other ailments. As she talked about herself, she explained about a
mental illness she had come through due to a brain injury that still
required medication. She said it took her a long time to accept her
need for treatment for the disorder and that she had caused her
family quite a bit of pain in the process.
I told Peggy about what our company was doing with Pay-It-Forward
and how I wanted to assist her and her family. She wasn’t sure she
could accept a gift, but I explained how I believed this help was
supposed to come to her. She came to understand. While I
appreciated the money that the company was providing, I decided to
do more. Peggy received $2,000. She said she never imagined
anything like this happening to her. After she read through the
Pay-It-Forward sheet she told me she would be finding ways to pay
others for what we were doing for her. Peggy said her first stop
would be at the pharmacy where her medicine was waiting. I hope and
plan to stay in touch with Peggy in future and plan on paying it
forward as I am called to do.
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