Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Pay It Forward.

Hank and I took my mom to the airport. Her two-week stay ended today. Strange, but those two weeks went lightning-quick.

I get blue when our guests leave. The word blue is appropriate. I'm only the tiniest bit relieved that I no longer have to worry about feeding extended family. I am mostly sad that we live so far apart. That they get an intimate glimpse into our lives for so many days, and then that intimacy ends abruptly. I wonder how Hendrik feels. Is he bored to be alone with me again? Does he realize when they go away? I feel guilty that they will miss him. Even if he wasn't so goddamned charming: they will miss him, and his happy screaming, and his chubby little toes.

I decided to console myself with a cinnamon dolce latte at Starbucks, as you do. As I waited in the drive-thru line, I scanned my Facebook feed. There was only one thing everyone was talking about.

Casey Anthony. Not Guilty.

I hadn't closely followed the trial, but this verdict was unsurprising. No hard evidence. If the glove doesn't fit, you must acquit, etc. I'm not happy about it; but then, I don't know if she did it. All the prosecution proved is that she's an asshole. We already knew that.

Still, how heart-breaking. No matter the verdict, nothing will bring back that gorgeous little girl and the full life she was denied.

Reading status updates, I felt plain melancholy. I pulled up to the window and hastily ordered a morning bun. Only a morning bun could make it right.

"OK," said the man in the Starbuck's cap. "The person in the car in front of you decided to pay it forward, so you just owe me for the morning bun."

"Pay it forward?" I asked incredulously.

"Yeah, sometimes that happens here."

"Just like that?" I smiled. (Texas, you really confound me sometimes with your equal number churches and strip joints; your guns and your "Obama is a Socialist!" billboards. Huh.)

"Just like that," the man replied.

"Well, what did that car behind me order?" I asked. "I guess I'll buy that."

"Great! I like to see how far it goes. Sometimes people just say, 'awesome, thanks,' and keep on driving."

I thought: I'd like to see how far it goes too.

As I drove home, I thought of Caylee Anthony. I thought of the fury of my Facebook friends. I thought of the cries of injustice; the loss of faith in our justice system; the idea that the jurors should hire bodyguards.

I thought: what if that woman or man in the car in front of me had also just heard the verdict? And what if he or she thought: I am going to do something nice for Caylee, anonymously. In Caylee's name. So that something good can come out of evil. So that we won't forget her, or her suffering.

I know it was just a latte, guys. But it made me feel... hopeful.

We arrived home and I hugged my baby tightly, thankful for all that I have, and resigned to pick up the tab for a stranger a little more often.


Steph said...

LOVE this post... :) Next time I go for my deliciously evil frappuccino I will pass on the goodness.

SarahK said...

Lovely idea- to pay it forward in her name.

I had a similar reaction- we're prisoners of our justice system at times- both good and bad.

I'm glad I can still keep up with you 1,500 miles away. Please send drive through Starbux back this way. Getting out of the car with a toddler is starting to become out of the question. Thank goodness for drive through milk!

In This Style said...

Love this post. It bums me out knowing that I probably would have been one to say, "Awesome! Thanks!" and just keep driving. : ( But now that I've read this, I want to do it for someone else! Such a cool thing (and very Texan). Thanks for spreading the hope.