Ethics Jump-Ball At The 7-11

Boy, you better be quick if you want to be “pay it forward” in Alexandria, Virginia.

Today I dropped by the local 7-11 for a quick purchase and was third in a line of four. Being served was a very tall—basketball player tall—, very striking young African American man, late 20s, early 30s,  in a three- piece suit and tie. He had his items on the counter for checkout, and excused himself briefly to go out to his car where he said he had left his wallet. A few seconds later he stepped back into the store and said, “Never mind. I’m sorry, I left my wallet at home,” and started to leave. I hesitated maybe two seconds and started to speak, as did the man ahead of me. I was about to say that I would pay for his items, but the guy behind me, short, stocky, white, about 50, and noticeably missing a few teeth in front, stepped out and said, “Hey, man, I’ve got it.”

The young man looked surprised and said, “Are you sure?” “Of course. Is that it?” replied the older man, pointing to the counter.

“Just pay it forward, friend,” said the man in front of me.

“Thank you,” said the Kareem Abdul Jabbar look-alike.  I really did think he looked like Kareem, early 70’s vintage, but handsomer. He also appeared a lot more affluent than his shorter benefactor. “Here’s my contact information…” and he reached into his pocket.

“No, no, come on, that’s not necessary,” said his new friend,, flashing his missing teeth in a big smile. “I’ve got it. We’re all in this together.” And he paid the clerk.

The tall black man shook his hand, and they both held the clasp for a few second. “Thanks so much,” he said.

After he left, both I and the man in front of me congratulated the winner of this ethics jump ball, saying that we both were about to do the same thing, but he had been quicker.

“Oh no!” he said suddenly, eyes twinkling. “I just spent my last dollar! Now I can’t pay for MY stuff!”

“See? I’d really have you both then, wouldn’t I?”

And we all laughed.

16 thoughts on “Ethics Jump-Ball At The 7-11

  1. Nice to hear that there are decent people in this world. Reminded me of the several nice encounters I also had, and reinforced the message that one should always be considerate of others.
    At times you do share some nice stories! Hope you’ll have more of such to come!

  2. I love this. When we get outside in the world we discover we have fewer enemies than we think. Most people just want to get along, mind their own business, and enjoy a little connection.

  3. “We’re all in this together.”

    As ignorant I know it is to simplify complex issues down to bite sizes points, I’ll do it anyway.

    This quote, more than any other, is why I hate the divisive Al Sharpton’s of the world. Anything and anyone who gives people like this man (and Jack and the man in front) any motivation to not act like this towards their fellow man, is Enemy #1 in my book.

    • Hear, hear! The sooner we get past the idea that skin color equates with some nebulous thing called “race”, the better off we are going to be. The only “race” we have is the HUMAN race. Does it make me racist to suggest that humans are just a bit higher on the scale that chimpanzees?

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