Chain Reaction

Chain Reaction

A lot of you might have watched this video at least once in the last 2 years that it seems to have been on Youtube. In case you haven’t, hit play.

I’ve been lucky to witness one such incident way back in junior college. I was in a bus heading for class, when this man got on, and suddenly realized he had left his wallet at home. A middle-aged lady seated close-by was overheard him explaining to the conductor, who was suggesting he get off the bus. The lady immediately gave the conductor some money for his ticket. The man was a little embarrassed, considering the little audience that had built up. He asked her how he could return the money, to which she matter-of-factly said that if he came across someone in future who was stuck in a similar situation, he could buy them a ticket. That’s a simple yet powerful lesson I learnt that day. The concept of ‘Paying it forward‘.

Then, somewhere around the same period in time, I actually saw the ‘Pay it forward’ do a full circle too. Again, I was in a bus (yeah, sounds like I spent quite some time on buses then, aye?) and had offered my seat to an elderly lady. She was a little surprised when she saw me standing, since she must have initially assumed that I would be getting off at the next stop. The bus was packed so I ended up moving a few seats away. A few stops later, I saw the lady get up. There was a chap standing close to her seat, impatiently waiting to sit. Soon as she got up, he darted for it. And to my surprise, the lady stopped him instantly, saying that some else will be sitting there, while the person who was seated next to her simultaneously hand-gestured me to come and sit there. She smiled, and moved away. So did the other person who was seated.

Similar incidents might seem commonplace in some countries, but here in India, we still have a real long way to go to get there. And considering that both the above incidents occurred about 15 years ago, I guess that’s partly what makes them so powerful and promising. It doesn’t take much to ‘Pay it forward’. You should try it. At least once, everyday. And like I was fortunate enough to witness first hand, it does come back, sooner or later.

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  1. Yes it is said that what goes around comes around, but so soon is doubtful. Yet it does happen occasionally. But there are times when apparent good has been done but good does not follow (whistleblowers)

  2. If expectations are involved, that’s business, and should be conducted separately. Paying it forward should be devoid of expectation, and really isn’t as big as it sounds. I noticed the simplest form of it at White Hall Terminal (Manhattan) when you get off the ferry and are rushing out. Most people getting out of the door hold the door for the person behind them. And its a contagious chain. And most of those are extremely busy people, getting to or back from work. If they can, why cant we? Back home, get out of a movie show and go through swinging doors, see how many people will hold the door till the next person close at heel can hold it.

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