Pay it FORWARD by Jo Cole

WOMAN - UK|July 06, 2020

Pay it FORWARD by Jo Cole
Making the first move was going to take a momentous act of courage

For years, I’ve believed in the pay-it-forward concept – that if we are shown small acts of kindness, we should do something kind for someone else. But sometimes small acts aren’t enough, and something seismic has to happen. This was the case with the young man and woman who’d caught my attention…

It was day one of my new job when I first clocked them both exiting the supermarket with a small trolley each. Her eyes darted to his, his to hers, as if they were watching tennis. Their glowing cheeks were accompanied with embarrassed smiles.

My new job wasn’t glamorous, and certainly not one I thought I’d enjoy – but I did. My Frank had been right. When I’d seen the advert on the supermarket noticeboard for a car-park supervisor, Frank had said, ‘Why don’t you give it a try, Angela?’ and I’d huffed and puffed a bit.

I was looking for an office job as a receptionist or the like – something to do now that the triplets had flown the nest. I wasn’t sure I’d like standing out in the rain, but nothing else came up, due to my having been at home with the kids for so long. So, to avoid upsetting Frank, I applied.

On my first day, it was a rainy, cold March morning. Spring hadn’t even peeked through the winter chill, and my glasses were steamed up from the drizzle. I was regretting my decision to take the job when a mum with two youngsters parked up, rushing to get to the school opposite. As I strolled over. the mum’s face dropped.

‘Can’t I park here? I’ll only be a minute. We’re late… as usual,’ she panted.

Remembering the school runs, when getting the triplets to school for 8.50 am seemed an impossible task, I retrieved the children’s rucksacks from the car and helped the kids put them on. ‘Just get going,’ I said, and she smiled. ‘Thanks, you’re a lifesaver.’ From then on, I realised my job wasn’t about parking, patrolling or managing numbers in and out – it was about kindness. I’d do all I could to brighten the lives of shoppers. I was the car-park receptionist, helping customers parking g g shop. I swapped pound coins for trolleys and helped the elderly load their goods while exchanging pleasantries.

When I first saw the young man and woman, I’d thought they were a couple, flushed with first love, but, as the weeks passed, I realised they were strangers who’d shared a moment – a fabulous girl-meets-boy moment.

When I told the triplets about them, they’d laughed.

‘Mum, no-one meets in real life anymore,’ Becky said. ‘Everyone’s on Tinder now. True love’s just a swipe away.’

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July 06, 2020