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Margaret's Musings: Pay it forward - It brightens the future and the moment

Somedays you catch a break and other days you can, with a simple gesture, give the same to others.

Last week I was nearing the end of a day that started at 5:30 a.m., traveling on I-94 from St. Paul close to the time most folks would be thinking about dinner. I started to consider a quick stop at the Hudson Dairy Queen. It was, after all, on the way home. I needed just a little pick me up so a Dilly bar came to mind. However, when I checked my wallet I discovered a couple of single dollars I did not realize I had. Suddenly the thought of a Pecan Mudslide came to mind -- that would be dinner in and of itself. Maybe I had enough for one of those treats.

Mind you, I just didn't want to whip out the plastic to 1) pay for something that inexpensive, and 2) to pay for something I shouldn't have been eating in the first place.

What followed was both a bit embarrassing and pleasant at the same time. It was a quiet time at the DQ. Only a couple of people were standing inside and they had obviously placed their orders.

"How much is a Pecan Mudslide?" I asked. I counted my bills and change and it was more than I had so I went back to my original plan to order a Dilly Bar. Before I could verbalize that request the employees suggested if I ordered a small sundae, I could dress it up with toppings similar to the now infamous Mudslide. I was on board with this as I again counted to make sure I had enough. Yes, I will take it.

However, another customer had different idea, before I could hand over my "cash" a slender arm attached to a very tall person (my peripheral vision is pretty good) reached over the cash register with a ten-dollar bill and I heard a voice say "Give her the Mudslide." My first reaction was to decline of offer, but the benefactor would not be denied. Good grief I thought, he must think I am on the brink, financially and emotionally. It had been a long day but...

It was to be. I would have a Pecan Mudslide for dinner that night. I shook his hand and thanked him profusely as he received his own boxed dinner. I watched him get into a pick-up truck with Minnesota plates and drive away.

Immediately the phrase pay it forward came to mind. Popular since 1951, the concept was discussed by Ralph Waldo Emerson as early as 1841, according to Wikipedia.

Instead of paying someone back for a good deed, you, in turn, do a good deed for someone else.

At a drive up, you could pay for the next person's coffee.

However, in this community we have hundreds of people who through their volunteerism are essentially paying it forward, assuring through their efforts that the quality of life we experience in the Hudson area is carried on in the future.

Pepper Fest members work hard to harnesses the labor of 11 community groups to make the event happen. Each group gets part of the proceeds. But one look under the food tent and you know it is not always fun, especially when the temperature rises.

They are, of course, only one example of hundreds of men and women who serve quietly on volunteer boards and other venues making Hudson a premier place to live and work. It is no wonder that teachers from half way around the world want to work here.

So even if you are not an active volunteer you can still reach across the register or drive through and by a forward act of kindness, brighten someone's day.