Sometimes it's not so easy to pay it forward, even when you try to give away something for free. Every year, my daughter and I look forward to the NY State Fair. The Fair is a turning point for us, as it signals the end of summer and the beginning of school. And although I look forward to the beginning of school, it's also mixed with a twinge of regret that yet another summer has flown by. To save a few bucks, we purchase our tickets ahead of time.
This year I purchased four tickets. One each for my son, husband, daughter, and myself. However, my husband was not able to go, so we had one extra ticket. Since we weren't going to use it, I figured I'd give it away.
We arrived in the morning around 9:30, hungry for breakfast. It was raining steadily, and we had both brought umbrellas. Stepping around the puddles, I noticed a family stepping out of their SUV. Smiling, I made eye contact with the mom, and asked if she needed a ticket.
"Really?" she said. "That's really nice of you, but we already have tickets. Thank you, though."
"Ok, enjoy the fair!"
The next people I approached looked at me like I was a little looney when I repeated my question. They mumbled that they already had some. As I looked around for someone else, my daughter tugged on my arm. "Come on, Mom. I'm hungry. Besides, there's no one else around. Let's just go in." ( I think she felt some teenage angst that her mom would just go around talking to people. After all, she's been told NOT to talk to strangers all her life.)
Realizing my ticket giveaway was dead in the water at the moment, I temporarily gave up. It continued to rain, and to my rumbling stomach, the tantalizing smells of breakfast managed to cut through the air. Tucking the extra ticket into my pocket, I followed my daughter to the gate and we went inside. Despite the rain, or maybe because of it, we had a really nice time. After admiring the sand sculpture, ambling through the Center of Progress, buying milk in the Dairy Building, enjoying the paintings and sculptures in Arts and Crafts, we knew it was time to leave.
As we left the gate, I suddenly remembered the extra ticket. "Wait, honey. I need to get rid of this ticket." The first few people I asked did not need one. Seems like everyone had bought theirs ahead of time, just like us. Something I had thought would be really easy, wasn't! Spotting another couple walking towards the gate, I asked once more. "Do you need a ticket?"
" Really?" she said, "To get in?"
"Yes," I replied.
"A free ticket?" she said, suspiciously.
"Yup," I cheerfully grinned.
"Well, sure!" she said. With their eyes wide, like they couldn't believe it was their lucky day, they accepted the ticket.
"You see, mom," my daughter said, "all you had to do was look for someone getting money out of their wallet. That's who you should have asked in the first place. " Oh, to have the wisdom of teenagers!
Laughing, I agreed. While I don't think giving away a free ticket is going to get me admitted onto heaven, even when it took a little effort, it felt good to pay it forward.