Pay It Forward – Greek Style

Pay It Forward.  Seriously – PAY IT FORWARD.   And when you do, think of a Greek man named Elias.

(I wrote the following email the night after it happened but I did not have access to email for a couple of days immediately after, and I never wound up sending it out.  However, after returning home, I told the story to a few people and their reaction motivated me to write this.)

You just have to read the papers, watch the news, or just look at many of the people and things that surround you on a daily basis to see all the garbage and selfishness that goes on in the world.  Frankly, many people really don’t seem to give a flying (insert expletive here) for anyone or anything except themselves.  That holds true whether or not you’re famous, or just an ordinary schmuck like me.

But damned if there are not at least a few seemingly selfless people who still exist, or who are at least capable of incredibly selfless acts.

A fellow we met during our trip to Greece – Elias from a small village near Delphi in central Greece – is one of those people.

Deborah and I were driving from Nafpaktos to Delphi when it started raining.  Apparently, it hadn’t rained there in six months.  Summer in Greece is not exactly what you would call the rainy season.

As we passed Itea, and approached Delphi on a side road which was very fortunately not busy at the time, I lost control of the rental car on a really mild curve.  Although I was not driving particularly fast, it was obviously “too fast for conditions” which included roads which are not equipped to handle rain of any sort, and tires on the rental car with not a whole lot of tread on them.

I’m pretty sure we spun completely around once and then some, then went off the road down into an olive tree grove.  Despite the drop of probably 1 ½ to 2 feet into the grove, we managed to avoid flipping over, stay upright and also avoid any of the many olive trees that surrounded us. Amazingly, we hit nothing and the only damage noticed were two blown tires.  But there we were, out in the middle of an olive grove, with two blown tires and with a significant grade separating us from the road off which we had just parted company.

A local Greek gentleman by the name of Elias was following right behind us when we had the accident.  He stopped immediately to see how we were.  Then he proceeded, for the next hour and a half or so to …

  • Remove both of the blown tires from the rental
  • To drive both the tires and me back to Itea to a service station owned by a friend of his
  • After his friend very quickly repaired both tires, which turned out to be tubeless and undamaged, Elias drove me back to the rental car and to Deborah
  • He then put both repaired tires back on the rental
  • After I unsuccessfully tried to get the rental car back on the road, Elias took over and, eventually with the assistance of three more Greek guys who were driving by, we got the rental car back up on the road

I paid the service station guy 20 Euro for about 20 minutes work to repair the tires.  But how does that even compare to what Elias did for us?  And yet, try as I did, Elias would accept nothing from me – nothing at all but my effusive thanks, in my meager Greek.  And believe me, Elias was not some wealthy Greek magnate.  Both his car and his clothes spoke volumes about how very little Elias has in Earthly possessions.  But what he does have, you cannot put a value on.

So please, do as I intend to do, and that would be to take Elias’s good deed and pay it forward to someone else in your life.  Even if it’s a small gesture, do it.  And if it feels good, as I’m sure it will, then do it again.

It’s a shame I had to go halfway around the world to learn this lesson but I owe it to Elias to make sure that I never forget what he did.

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