I Got Pay It Forward-ed

Maybe you've heard of the book or movie (or idea), Pay It Forward. Sunday afternoon, I got an unexpected favor out of nowhere.

I asked her: "Just because?"
She said: "Yes, just because."

And that was almost the end of it. I would have just said thank you very much and had a good feeling about it. But then, a half a second later, she says:

"Just pay it forward."

I said: "Wow. Can do."

I know this sounds scripted or unlikely, but it went exactly like that. There were witnesses. So I decided to go check in on the rules. Here's how it goes (I'm paraphrasing):

1. Do something for three people, and none of them can be the person that did you the favor.

2. It has to be something big. Something they can't do for themselves.

3. You have to tell each of the three people to do the same.

Part of the idea is that you don't necessarily know who the three people will be just yet, but you will know it when you see it. I've already been working on two major favors for two people, things they can't do for themselves. This started well before today, though.

Maybe seeing them through to the end will be the delivery on two of the three. That just leaves the one, though. Or maybe it should really be three brand new things.

Also, the most challenging part about this might be bracing yourself for the response. Even though the woman that did the favor for me was a fully-grown adult with a child, there was still a bit of hesitation in her voice when she said "just pay it forward."

It's hard to blame her, but think of how strange that sounds. We're unsure about doing somebody a random favor because we're not sure how they'll react. Will they think you're insane? Don't think you're the only one with this on your head.

You don't have to wait for someone to do a favor for you first.

Update: I watched the movie Sunday night and there were a few things I noticed:

Helen Hunt's character is talking about her son, played by Haley Joel Osmet, and says he "sleeps like the dead." Ironic given his role in The Sixth Sense. Dunno if it was intentional or not.

A bit more of a stretch, but Helen Hunt's character goes into school to talk to the teacher about the homeless man in her house. While talking about the homeless man she says her son would "walk on water." The homeless man is played by James Caviezel, who played Jesus in The Passion of the Christ.

When the Caviezel's character pours cereal for Osmet's character, the bowl ends up overflowing. After a quick cutaway for Osmet to hang up the phone, all of the cereal is almost gone.

Kevin Spacey's character lives at The Oasis. Metaphors!
Design Element
I Got Pay It Forward-ed
Posted Oct 9, 2006 — 8 comments below


duzbin — Oct 09, 06 1986

I have not seen these movies, but...

"Sleeps like the dead."
Which movie was made first?
I saw them both advertised, but can't remember which first? If sixth scene was made first, it could be a sort of "In Joke"

"Walk on water."
I don't imagine there being any relation to the Passion of the Christ, other than the fact that we could assume James Caviezel is a Christian.
By the sound of it, Pay it Forward is a very Christian sort if Idea. The writer or Director could be a Christian, and chose a Christian actor.
"Walk on water" could be a relating the boy to Jesus. The way he helps people, he doesn't know, and without expecting anything back.

"Cereal is almost gone"
I think this is most likely an error in recording.
It could have meaning, but they could have also re-shot the scene a number of times, and took the bits they liked from each shoot. This way, the cereal might have been in a slightly different place each time.

Jan — Oct 09, 06 1989

Heh, I do random favours (big and small) all the time, and the reactions I get are always priceless, even if they are from a person who knows me well.
It's my way of giving presents since I don't believe in birthday- or Christmas presents. I don't buy the "You have to find something for somebody, just because"-mentallity. I'd rather give a present or do a favour for someone when the situation arises. I think it is way more effective, even if that means that I am the only one without a true present at a party (wine and chocolate do not count :-).

That doesn't mean though, that I don't like to give or get presents, I just don't like the occasion being forced upon me.


random joe — Oct 09, 06 1992

You know, it's cool that this happened to you and all, but this is your second both offtopic and borderline weird post in a few weeks... Not good. I'd def keep these brief if they need to be posted at all. Somehow they are just way out of place here.

Adam Bouskila — Oct 09, 06 1993

Hey joe,

Don't like it here? You can always leave, he isn't forcing you to stay.

Scott, that's pretty cool. I wish this idea really caught on and people wouldn't hesitate to mention the "pay it forward" bit.

Scott Stevenson — Oct 09, 06 1997 Scotty the Leopard

duzbin: Other than the possible exception of "sleeps like the dead," I can't see any of them as being intentional. The movie doesn't seem to favor any religion.

random joe: You know, it's cool that this happened to you and all, but this is your second both offtopic and borderline weird post in a few weeks... Not good.

I don't think receiving a random act of kindness is weird, but I do understand your point. The good news is that there's an RSS feed and a list of stories on the home page, so you can just click on the ones that interest you (if any).

In any case, part of me thinks this sort of stuff keeps things grounded. Less likely we'll end up taking the amount of reflection in an on-screen control too seriously.

Uli Kusterer — Oct 11, 06 2035


having seen this complainer's posting only /after/ your reply... Notice he uses a handle ("random joe") and doesn't leave any contact info? I wouldn't worry too much about a guy who won't put their identity behind their criticism.

It's probably just a troll happy about all the comments and additional articles he caused.

random joe — Oct 13, 06 2053

Hi, it's me again. I'm miffedby the knee-jerk reactions my comment has generated. I can leave, and I'm a troll. Both are just putdowns, no real arguments. I agree that my lack of contact info suggests that I shouldn't be taken too seriously. Actually, I would like to be ignored altogether. That is, WHO I AM should be ignored. WHAT I SAY should stand or fall based on its merit.

Sure I can leave. And as Scott himself suggested, I can pick and choose what I want to read. Thanks, but I've been aware of this.

The sole reason for my comment has been to draw your attention to an image problem: Theocacao has always seemed to me a truly professional, ontopic, to-the-point, no-nonsense weblog. And I've liked that. Now it seems to be moving away from that ideal. Not that there's necessarily anything wrong with that, other people's blogs constantly deal with random personal comments, what movie they have seen and so on... But my two cents' worth of opinion is that Theocacao has been a different kind of blog, one without personal stuff, and perhaps it might better be off if it stayed that way. That's all folks. Thanks for listening. I'm definitely no troll, and I have great respect for this blog and the author.

Scott Stevenson — Oct 13, 06 2062 Scotty the Leopard

draw your attention to an image problem: Theocacao has always seemed to me a truly professional, ontopic, to-the-point, no-nonsense weblog

I take all of that as a compliment, so thank you.

Now it seems to be moving away from that ideal

I don't think so, really. The reason I leave personal things off this blog is not to keep up appearances, but because I figure people aren't that interested in reading about my pet dog and whatnot.

The first oddball post was me basically saying "hey, this is a rough time, I could use some help." Maybe you think there's not value in asking blog readers for help, but that was the reason. The second post (this one) came up because I thought it was pretty unusual to spot a "pay it forward" in the wild.

In any case, I respect the fact that you explained your thoughts, and I think you can expect that at least 90% of the stuff you see here will be the sort of things listed on the about page.


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