Some of you may remember the movie Pay it Forward. I got to thinking about it the other day while walking. The basic premise is that when someone does you a favor, rather than pay it back you pass it along by doing someone else a favor. It’s actually a pretty sweet concept.
Well, I’m a notoriously selfish bastard (just ask my ex-wives). But that doesn’t mean I’m incapable of performing a good deed now and again. And sometimes through an otherwise selfish act you can end up unintentionally helping folks out.
For example, I’ve mentioned in passing the woman I’ve employed in the Philippines to be my personal assistant/caregiver once I retire there. Obviously that has not happened yet, although Loraine does serve as my tour guide when I visit in the interim. While I’m not there I’ve been sending her to school to learn the skills (massage and caregiving) that will hopefully make my retired years more comfortable and lengthy.
Now, I didn’t have to employ someone months before I retire but Loraine seemed like a good fit for the job and she needed the income. I guess you could characterize that as an act of generosity (charitably speaking), but also a clearly selfish motivation on my part (didn’t want someone else to hire her before I arrived). And she’s doing good stuff for me, like keeping track of my blood pressure (I send her the readings each morning), scouring the internet for articles that pertain to whatever I may be complaining about at any given time, and being an understanding ear when I need one. So far I’d say it’s a win-win.
Loraine is a smart gal who’s never really had the opportunity to pursue formal education. She’s spent her adult life working in mostly menial jobs to support her family. These often required her to toil long hours in far away countries (Hong Kong, the Middle East, Vietnam). I certainly respect that like so many Filipinos she sacrificed and did what was necessary to survive. So it has been especially satisfying for me to see how dedicated she has been to taking full advantage of the opportunity to learn new skills. She has this thirst for knowledge that is quite impressive. With my luck she will use her training to get a better job, but I’ll still be proud of her for making the effort.
But here is the point of this post (yes, there is one!). As part of her caregiver on-the-job training she has been working long shifts at a school for special needs children. Some have physical disabilities, others have emotional and learning disorders. It’s been a real challenge for her in many ways, but she has risen to that challenge. She’s been going above and beyond the program requirements, spending her own time and money to prepare visual and other learning aids for the kids. She told me about one malnourished child who never has food at break time, so she shares hers. Most of all she feels satisfaction with knowing she is making a difference for these kids by being there. And she says that would not have been possible if I hadn’t put her in the program.
So, she is paying the opportunity forward. And if in some small way my selfish act in hiring her has facilitated that, well hell yeah, I’ll share in the joy. I’m already thinking that when I retire I may have her do volunteer work at a school or nursing home as part of her job. Heh. Hiring folks to do the charity work on my behalf seems to suit my nature, don’t you think?