March Secret Subject Swap - Pay It Forward



Welcome to March's Secret Subject Swap. Again 12 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.



My subject is 
             
When was the last time someone paid it forward and you were the recipient of a stranger's good deed?


It was submitted by Never Ever Give Up thank you, Carol!

Without wanting to sound ungrateful, I don't think I have ever been the beneficiary of a pay it forward initiative. Certainly not the kind where the DTB (Drive Thru Barista) tells you "your coffee has been paid for by the gentleman who just pulled out."

Now this may be entirely Switzerland's fault. There are no Starbucks Drive Thru Stores!!

Also I kind of suspect that the average Swiss person is too petty to pay someone else's consumption: what if it's a family of six?

Kidding aside, I do love the idea of paying it forward, and I keep doing little things for family members, friends and random people. I do love the expression on stranger's faces when you let them keep the coin for the shopping cart. It's a Swiss Franc = Dollar, it won't kill me!

Coin for the cart, you ask? 

You see, our supermarket employees got sick and tired of wheeling back carts from all over the parking lot, so they installed locks that connect the shopping carts. Depending on the market chain you can unlock your cart with a one or a two Franc coin. 






Which of course is a pain because as you check your wallet more often than not you don't have the correct coin, and you either have to wait in line at customer service to ask for some change or you ask a fellow shopper. 

Or you have a fake coin that you keep at your key ring. It's the green thingie.




Speaking of change, I do have a story that was certainly a good deed I benefitted from. 

It happened on my fist full day in the U.S. ever - almost 20 years ago!

I didn't have a rental car yet so my roommate dropped me off at the bus station so I could go to the mall where I was supposed to meet with my Swiss friends who were going to take me to "dirt cheap rent a car" after lunch (they're still in business, wohooo!)

As I got on the bus, I handed the driver my 50 Dollar bill, and he was looking at me, not unkind, but clearly thinking "girl, where have you been?" Well, to my excuse I had been living in my country where it is totally acceptable to pay with a larger banknote. We're Swiss, after all, land of money and chocolate.

He proceeded to explain that he wasn't allowed to carry that much change and I needed to get off the bus if I couldn't pay for my fare in smaller bills.

I had only just arrived, my friends had picked me up at the airport, so I didn't have to pay for a taxi, and the stores were still closed, (hello, jet-lag! I was up super early!) so I couldn't even run to the nearby Rite Aid to buy a bogus item just to make change. 

"Do you have anything?" he asked.

From my jeans pocket I produced a couple of dimes and maybe a quarter or two. The change I got when I paid for a Diet Coke while waiting for my connecting flight the day before. 

It was hardly half of the fare, but the driver said "that'll do. Have a seat!"

I stammered "a-are you sure, I can get off the bus at the mall to make some change and come back to pay..."

"It's OK, don't worry, just sit down!"


Photo Source

Yeah, I guess that qualifies. The nice bus driver let me on the bus even though I couldn't pay for my trip. That would never happen in Switzerland!!! But you see what happened: 

I never forgot his random act of kindness!

My friend who was staying in San Diego for a six months' language course had a bus story of her own: After a night out dancing and partying, she boarded the bus at a Downtown station. She and a drunk guy were the only passengers. 

After the man got off, the driver asked her where she needed to go. She told him the name of the bus station.

"Is that where you live?" he asked. Not exactly. She was going to have to walk to her host family's house for a good 15 minutes. 

Her jaw dropped when the bus driver didn't stop at the station and instead turned into the residential  street that was leading to her home. He dropped her off directly in front of her house!


N and I, 1997

So here's a shout-out to the attentive and friendly San Diego bus drivers!

PS: If you use a fake coin for your shopping cart, be aware that your keys are attached to it!

It happend more than once that I started furiously rummaging my purse to have my car key ready and couldn't find it. I went back to the store, tried to recap what aisles I passed and looked on the floor and under the shelves, everywhere! But couldn't find my keys. One time I actually went to customer service and asked them to do an annoucement in case somebody had found them. Just as I started to describe my pink CALIFORNIA charm, I did a huge facepalm. 

Of course my keys were in my shopping cart...