Pay It Forward



Dear Dharma,

I am so disappointed in mankind. I am currently on crutches after surgery and need to take public transit for a while. While I should have known travelling during rush hour was a bad idea, I thought I will get a seat for sure given my situation.

But while I was visibly struggling to hold on (and the crutches are not invisible either), not a single person offered me a seat!

I don’t expect much from the younger generations as they have not been parented properly but people my age and older did not offer me a seat either! What is this world coming to?

I am turning into the grumpy old man my grandfather was but seeing how common curtesy seems to be dead – how can I not?

Should I say something next time?

Thank you,


Dear Bert,

You know, I like to think of life as a series of potential lessons.  We are all in the position to be the student at some point or other, but sometimes we are meant to be the teacher.

With that in mind, Dharma says yes.  Yes, you should say something next time.

And you don’t have to be a jerk about it – in fact, don’t be a jerk about it, or the lesson gets sacrificed…

The Next Time

Next time you are in a situation where something like this happens, how about, “Hey, is there anyone who would mind giving up their seat for a guy on crutches, before I end up on my butt?!?”  Smile, smile, smile…

Guaranteed someone will.  Now, if you can make it a positive experience for that person and anyone witnessing it, it’s got more potential to stick.  The hope is it makes enough of an impact for memory muscle to kick in the next time any of those folks find themselves in a similar position down the road.

Thank the person who gave up their seat with sincere gratitude.  Follow up with something that maybe makes people laugh… “Hey, thanks so much – I would have hated to have been laying there with a crutch up my butt!”

I don’t know, maybe Dharma’s not so funny after all.  The point is a negative situation turned positive will leave an impression, opening them up to empathy and self-awareness.  Maybe they get off the bus and  pay it forward in some other way.  If so, voila – your work as the teacher is done for day.



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