The other day I had to take the Happy Baby to a doctor appointment.
I wasn’t feeling up to the long drive and knew I could get there quicker if I took the turnpike, but the turnpike is a toll road and I do not have an E-Pass.
I called the Happy Hubby and asked him if he would mind if I spent the extra 2.50 it would take to save me about 15 minutes each way.
As I set out on the open road, making excellent time, I had a thought as the approaching toll booth signs caught my eye.
Wouldn’t it be lovely to surprise someone by paying their toll for them?
The thought made me almost giddy I was so excited!
I told the Happy Baby what we were going to do and he kicked his feet in approval.
I got my money ready, rolled down the window and said to the lady working in the booth, “Is it okay if I pay for the person behind me?”
As I drove away with a big dopey grin on my face, imagining the car behind me’s reactions, my eyes caught sight of all the vehicles racing through the toll booth with their E-Passes.
Watching them sail through the toll without so much as a chirping beep in their car to acknowledge that a payment had been made, I realized that if I had had an E-Pass, too, I would not have been able to bless someone that day.
What is an E-Pass, really? A small device that electronically makes payments for you as you whiz through toll booths – no slowing down, no rolling down your window, no fumbling for spare change, and most important, no interrupting your busy schedule.
The E-Pass was invented to make our lives easier.
But at what cost?
Sometimes it seems that the very things created to bring convenience to our hectic lives are the very things that rob us of an awareness of the opportunity to be kind.
iPhones make us distracted and we forget to smile at people or engage them in conversation when we are out and about because our noses are always in the latest app.
Automatic doors prevent opportunities to hold them for others.
Emails make it less likely that we’ll put pen to paper and send something a little more personal via snail mail.
Texting means we don’t actually have to talk with people anymore.
I know there are a lot of loop holes in these theories, I mean, I am in looove with texting as much as the next person and those automatic doors keep the Happy Buddy entertained for hours at a time and I suppose without the ease of the turnpike itself I wouldn’t even be writing this post, but the point is sometimes we need to take a step back from the quicker way in order to embrace the kinder way.
When I drove away from the toll booth that day, before I knew it the car behind me had gunned it to catch up to me.
They rolled down their windows as we passed each other and yelled a loud thank you.
I waved back and wondered if maybe they had decided to pay the toll for the people behind them.
Because when you are the recipient of kindness, it kind of makes you want to keep it going. The whole pay it forward concept is totally real.
But even if they didn’t, maybe that one surprise in their day gave them just what they needed to press on in the hectic pace of life.
A reminder that God loves them.
He works through people who choose to be open to the opportunity.
I guess I am not sure what I am telling you to do here… Put down the iPhone? Unplug a little more? Write instead of type?
Or maybe just – especially as we head into the nuttiness of the holiday season - slow down a little bit (choose the toll booth every once in awhile) and ask the Lord to open your eyes as to how you might be a blessing to someone along the way.
He can do so much with a willing heart… and a buck and a quarter.
*For other creative ways to show kindness, check out THIS POST.*
“So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone…” Galatians 6:10