There are lots of thoughts that can drag you down while driving; thinking about your carbon footprint, traffic jams, careless drivers cutting you off, miles of asphalt separating animals from their habitats–it can really get you down.
Think about this the next time you travel by car: You can save humanity when you stop at tollbooths. A fun thing that I do to spread the idea of reciprocity–Pay for the car behind you and ask the tollbooth operator to ask the next driver if they would like to pay it forward. This can be profound.
Think of the possibilities here. First, you are giving exponentially with only a dollar or two of investment. Not only does it brighten the next drivers’ day regardless of how they respond, but you will also make the mundane job of a tollbooth operator, who spends all day or night sitting in a glass cubicle repeating but not believing the phrase “thank you” over and over again, a lot more interesting. All of a sudden, they are a witness to humanity in a sea of nothingness; they are also a part of a new story by passing the message along and, if they want to, actively engaging a fellow human in another act of kindness. If the next driver responds by paying for the driver behind, the tollbooth operator really means it when he or she says, “Thank you.” If they don’t respond in kind, both the driver and the tollbooth operator have something to think about, at the very least generating a ripple that might take hold later.
Secondly, the driver who receives the first gift now has an interesting choice inserted into their day, thinking, “Should I take the money and run? Or, find connection and keep the gift going? Wasn’t I going to pay the toll anyway?”
If the game continues, the fun increases for the tollbooth operator. Time flies instead of dragging, and each car is an opportunity for real human connection. Each driver becomes another flower from the seed, potentially affecting dozens of lives and infusing all with the fragrance of grace.
As for me, the generator of the ripple, I will probably never know the results of my experiment. It is a great lesson in unconditional love. I spend the next hour thinking of possibilities and the smiles of people that I touched with my dollar. It puts a big smile on my face as I turn up the radio and sing.