It was sunny when you left home, so you didn’t take an umbrella. An hour later, you’re caught in a torrential downpour. You run into the first store you can find — it happens to be a dark, slightly shabby antique store, full of old artifacts, books, and dust. The shop’s ancient proprietor walks out of the back room to greet you. Tell us what happens next!
It is through my own experiences that I have found those “ancient proprietors” to be far different from your modern day salesperson. A lot less pushy, that’s for sure. He (because his wife, Irene, is upstairs preparing him lunch) greets me with a smile. I can see a flash of disappointment cross his face, when he realizes it was the sudden down pour that drove me into his store, and not the idea that I might be interested in anything he’s selling. Nevertheless, he’s still kind and friendly and sparks up a conversation, asking innocent questions like “where am I from, what am I interested in,” etc. Little does he know that I’ve struck a goldmine! I didn’t know such a store existed, and they happen to be my favorite. I don’t know if it’s one of my quirks, but everyone, as well as everything, has a story. A history. When you pick up an antique, you can almost feel the person making it, and using it. I’m not an antique collector, but I’m a sucker for a story. So, as I skim through the rows and blow some dust off of an item, I pick it up. He’s eager to tell me its history; as much as he knows of it anyway.
“This was a piece I got from Ireland, years ago. Long before we decided to open this shop. My wife used it for some time as a decorative piece in our old house. We’ve had to downsize, as our children are grown and our income is limited, so we’ve put it out here for sale.”
I flip the piece (which happens to be a dish of some sort) over and see the price. They are asking $250 for it but he’s willing to cut the price for me. I think he’s just anxious to make a sale. I carry the piece over to the book section, and he follows. I’m just browsing, but he seems to be watching my every move. Is he thinking I might steal something? Is he hovering over my shoulder so he can tell me all he knows about the next item I pick up? It’s a book… a compilation of stories and poems by Edgar Allen Poe. There’s no need for an explanation, as I’ve already decided the book is mine. I make my way over to the counter and notice a small refrigerator full of flowers. Then I see the small cards you use to write a special message on and attach to the flowers. I pass on the flowers but take a small card. He rings me out (no discount necessary) and wishes me a good day.
The rain is still coming down in buckets, but I don’t mind. I love the rain. I make my way to my car, and go straight home. The book goes right on the coffee table, as I’ll be reading it shortly. I take the dish into the bedroom and examine it a bit more. Someone hand crafted this dish. It wasn’t made through an assembly line. On the back was an Irish Blessing written in fancy print and green ink. I cleaned the dish as best as I could, found a box to put it in, and wrapped it in pretty floral paper. On the small card, I wrote very simply, “Irene, Please continue to enjoy this, as I know you regret having to give it up. Sincerely, Paying it forward.”
I go back to the store, and see it’s closing for lunch. The little old man recognizes me and opens the door. He wonders what’s wrong. I can see the confusion on his face. I hand him the package which I have concealed in a brown paper grocery bag, wish HIM a good day, smile and walk back to my car.
Now that I know the store is there, I’m a regular customer. I don’t see the plate anywhere in sight, so Irene MUST be using again, and that makes me happy. And since they carry a small selection of books that I happen to be extremely interested in, he can always count on a sale when I walk through the door. We’ve become buddies. We share stories, and Irene came down to introduce herself and thank me profusely for my gift.
See what happens when you do an act of kindness? It’s called karma. Most people think of karma as a bad thing, something that catches up with you; payback for all you did wrong. I like to see karma as a good thing. When you do good, good things happen.