I was on my way home 2 days ago when I decided to pull over at a petrol station to fill up my tank. As the Sales Assistant began pumping the fuel a middle-aged man drove up on the other side of the fuel pump with his wife and 3 kids in the back seat. He came out of his car and went round to the car boot to pull out a jerrican. I knew this because I overheard the conversation the man had with his wife:
Wife: Did you remember to bring the jerrican?
Man: Yes, I always leave it in the boot.
Well, he was greatly disappointed when he opened the boot and discovered that he had actually forgotten to bring the jerrican. At that point the Sales Assistant had finished attending to me and so I paid for my fuel. As I was getting back into my car I noticed how sad the man looked as he got back into his car. He didn’t need the fuel for his car but probably for his generator at home. His wife didn’t make a fuss nor did she shout at her husband for being forgetful. The children seemed quiet after seeing the their parents looking a bit miserable. Perhaps the man didn’t plan to make another trip outside. Maybe he was on a tight schedule. All I was certain of was that I felt unhappy that this family was suddenly unhappy. I had to do something.
Due to unexpected fuel strikes in Nigeria (or at least in Lagos) I usually carry a 25-litre jerrican in my boot. This way I’m aptly prepared at all times to hoard fuel when there is rumour of an impending fuel strike. That day I had the jerrican in my boot as I saw the unhappy family opposite my car. I had a moment of hesitation as I started my car but I don’t know what came over me when I suddenly shouted across, ‘Will a 25-litre jerrican be okay for you?’
The wife looked astonished as she replied, ‘Yes’. I came out of my car, reached into my boot and handed over my empty 25-litre jerrican to him. He was ecstatic! He kept thanking me and saying that God would bless me. So did his wife. His children were now smiling because their parents were smiling. The man gave me one of his business cards and hoped that we could get in touch. I’m a private person really so I promised I’d get in touch with him (seriously, not like the ‘Don’t call us we’ll call you’ scenario that you may find at badly handled job interviews). I drove off feeling better…knowing that 5 people were made happy and they’ll probably have a lot to talk about later.
Wouldn’t you be happy if a complete stranger helped you in your time of need? I would like everyone reading this to do something special for a complete stranger during this Christmas period. Do something unexpected for someone who is in desperate need of help. That person may not have anymore faith in humanity. That person may be feeling suicidal. That person may one day feel reluctant to help someone else because he or she had never been helped recently. I’m not saying that you should give your life savings to the poor (you could if you’re so inclined though) but it’s the little things that count most times. Trust me, if doing that good deed for someone is not a big deal to you it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not a big deal to the recipient of your good deed. Put a smile on someone’s face this Christmas and let’s start a chain reaction of good deeds (doesn’t that just remind you of Pay It Forward?)