By Jessica McDowell, Operations Specialist at Milestone
I was sitting in the drive-thru at Starbucks, the only one in the city still open, pondering the current landscape of our nation. In less than 24 hours, all stores besides grocery stores would be closed, and all workers would be forced to quarantine in their homes, with no known end in sight. I looked to make sure the Starbucks worker was wearing gloves before handing her my change, when she smiled and said that the man in front of me had paid for my coffee.
Instantly my mood lifted. I used to work at coffee shops, so I was familiar with the giving chain, but did not expect it at a time like this. The gesture warmed my heart and I told her I would pay for the next car, hoping that the chain would continue and lift the moods of everyone in that line, just as it did mine.
As I drove away, I couldn’t help but think, who was the first person to decide to do this for their neighbor? Who got it in their hearts to put their own feelings aside and go out of their way to make someone else’s day better, even in a small way? And more importantly, why had I not been the person to do that?
Giving is a mysterious thing. I think everyone has experienced an act of kindness done unto them that makes them want to reciprocate that kindness tenfold. There is something about it that brings out the best in people. It’s easy to think that buying someone’s coffee can help their current situation, but it’s not always that easy. In most instances, you have to truly understand someone’s need in order to help them in a way that best meets their needs. If we don’t know someone else’s situation, how can we expect to help them?
Working with the Bairs Foundation, I have the unique role of speaking with people who were the victims of a personal injury. I speak with these people about their pains, struggles and worries. Most are no longer able to work because of their injuries and must therefore find a way to take care of themselves and feed their families. Even if a plaintiff is expecting a large settlement, it often takes years of litigation before that settlement actually arrives, leaving the plaintiff without a paycheck and in a very tough financial situation.
Talking with these people really does something inside of you, and puts your own situation into perspective. I am so thankful that we get to be a part of providing a solution for these people by offering non-recourse funding to help get them through during hard times. I love having the unique opportunity to help these people, even if it’s just by listening to them. I think sometimes we can get so focused on ourselves that we forget that the smallest gesture can sometimes mean the most to another person. It’s important to always frame our own struggles with the idea that someone out there has it worse, and we never take for granted the things that we do have.
During this uncertain time, can we put our own concerns aside and still put others ahead of ourselves? Can we contribute to helping those we don’t even know, without getting anything in return? What a great opportunity to come together as humanity. Can we, in a sense, be the first to pay for the other? Let’s put aside our differences, humble ourselves, and be the person to start a chain reaction.
A West Point graduate where he served as captain and military aviator, John Bair continues his commitment to our country through his efforts within the settlement planning industry. He has represented families of victims lost in the Flight 3407 crash, offered pro bono services to the families of 9/11 victims and drafted the first consumer protection bill for plaintiffs (H.R. 3699).