"'Paying it forward' is the concept," Eli explained.
"Yes," Ed Wilson answered, "I've heard of that. From, what was it, the Starbucks thing; it was people in line paying for the coffee of those who were in line after them."
"Yes," Eli Noland said with great interest, "It also occurred, apparently when people were paying tolls."
"So, this is the way you want to do this?" Ed asked, still a little skeptical about the idea.
"Yes," Eli answered. "Think of it, Ed. Look at what I was born with. My Daddy presented me with a business on a silver platter and along with that business all sorts of money to back it up."
"Yes, but you've made it more of a success by a factor of 10 or more since then," Ed said, apparently trying to bring some 'sense', as he saw it, into the notion of 'paying it forward'. "That was your work!"
"Well," Eli went on, "That makes it even more a kind of necessity. I mean, look at all of it. Look, for example at how our business here has prospered."
"Yes," Ed said, acknowledging the truth of what Eli was saying about their business. "We're selling cars these days at a fantastic rate. And, by the way, we'll have a display in the major new mall this coming week."
"Great!" Eli said, "That'll give me a chance to see if I can put my plan into action."
"Just don't get into trouble," Ed warned,
"Trouble?" Eli replied, "I'm going to try to find someone who needs a car and go ahead and buy that person a car. That's how I'm going to start my 'Paying it Forward' adventure."
"Just be careful," Ed warned.
Eli laughed and kissed Ed on the cheek, which always disturbed his partner, giving Eli a reason to do it now and then. "That's what I love about you, Edward. You're so cautious!"
"And you're so scatter headed!" Ed said with a grin now.
"Yes, but there's all of this good fortune to go around," Eli said. "I thought Janie was the answer to my desire to give thanks this way for all of the bounty, I mean by sharing."
"Didn't do you much good in that situation," Ed said. "She must really be kicking herself now with the quick divorce, letting her share her stuff with a road sales man, for god's sake!"
"It was her choice," Eli said, both of them referring to Eli's wife, whom he'd married early and who ran off with a salesman and divorced Eli in what looked like record time, after that.
(Of course that was before Eli began his taking over of his Dad's business and before he ran that business into the conglomerate that it was today.)
"So this is my chance!" Eli said.
"Well, go get 'em, tiger, is what I say!" Ed said with a final laugh. "But you'll give whoever it is your card and I'll contact you. We're at least agreed on that much?"
"Yes," Eli said, "We can be as careful as you want. And I love you for being so concerned!"
"Someone has to watch out for you and your nitwit ideas," Ed said with a final laugh, which Eli joined.
PLAN IN ACTION:
Eli Noland had spent a great deal of his adult years being truly thankful to his Dad for all that he'd done to make Eli such a success. He taught him about business and growth. He encouraged Eli and helped him to learn from early mistakes, which were, to tell the truth, not that many. So that by the time his Dad followed his lovely Mom into death, a number of years before, Eli was a success. He never forgot that. He was always grateful for it, and lately he'd been thinking more and more about sharing the bounty that he'd accrued in his life.
He was 42 now and thought that it was high time that the sharing began. He was also attracted to the idea of 'paying it forward' and thought of ways to apply that to his own life and circumstances. He was secretly pleased that he'd done so well and was, therefore, so free to try to 'pay things forward' in his own way.
It was what his auto partner, Ed Wilson, had objected to. Ed thought that Eli was making almost a joke of this venture and he'd tried to talk him out of it. But for Eli it was a fairly happy way of trying to get his heart's desire done: this idea of almost random sharing.
In the end, Eli was determined to 'have fun' with the idea, as he put it and also in the end, Ed Wilson just shook his head and said that he'd go along with it.
Eli Noland, actually Elijah Barnes Noland —- the Barnes from his Mom's maiden name and the 'Elijah' because she was a Bible believer —-had been, in his late teens and early 20's a bit on the gawky side. He was thin in those days, and that, he believed, made the comparison between him and the salesman, with whom Janie had run off, not very favorable for him. But as some women blossom in their middle years, so it was with Eli. He changed, as he became more involved in the business, and was, in his 40's at this point, an exceedingly good looking man. But for years, it had been business, especially after the stunning rejection involved in Janie's running away and divorcing him.
He always had reservations about his name but it was a favorite of his Mom's. It always presented the family a standing joke about 'saving a place at the table for Elijah' —-referring to Christian apocalyptic expectations as well as family hopes.
But now Eli was determined to enjoy himself as he looked around for someone, a stranger to his way of thinking, to share some of this bounty with.
This was his frame of mind, as he went to the mall that next week to look over the auto display there, some of which was put there by his and Ed Wilson's dealership.
Eli was also a keen observer of human beings. He noticed what people were like, from how they interacted with each other. It was one of the often basic reason for his being so good at business, his almost infallible way of summing up people.
He also intended to use this 'sixth sense' about people to guide him in going ahead with his present notion about 'paying things forward'.
He didn't know if maybe the idea of gifting someone with a car would serve to satisfy this desire to be liberal with his wealth but was willing to find out.
He had also come to grips with the idea already that merely donating to charities didn't really 'make it' for him. He'd certainly done that but the charities, even those that sent pictures of children who were being taken care of with the donations, seemed to be fairly remote to Eli.
So, it was with all of this in mind that Eli Noland was at the mall the following Friday. He was pleased to walk among the cars displayed, and idly wondering, if he were starting out and needing a car, what kind he'd want to have.
It was then that his universe and that of Margaret and Ginny Ackermann crossed.
Margaret and her daughter Ginny, Virginia, were out for a rare treat on that Friday night. They'd gone to one of the mall restaurants that they liked for dinner. It was rare for them, because their circumstances were strained enough that nights out to dinner were not often on the agenda.
They'd had their treat and decided to walk the mall a little.
Margaret Gaines had married Sandy Ackermann, while the two of them were still young. She discovered in the marriage, as time went on, that she was in fact the anchor. She kept them grounded and in touch with reality. Sandy was the dreamer, the 'let's try this' kind of guy. His ways kept the family, at times, on edge. Nor were all of his dreams that harmless. As time went on, Margaret began to realize that Sandy's schemes were getting them farther and farther in debt, huge debt. But Sandy was charming and always certain that prosperity was only right around the corner somewhere, and Margaret had difficulty curbing this kind of 'wildness' in him.
After the birth of Ginny, early in the marriage, Sandy had said that he didn't want more children, though Margaret thought that she might but the issue was left there.
In time, Sandy Ackermann had gone on to follow his dreams, realizing that the weight of a wife and daughter no longer suited his life style.
(It was in its own way, the same kind of pain that Eli Noland went through with his Janie)
So, Sandy had left, leaving his huge debts behind him, with no terrible thoughts in his mind about allowing his former wife and daughter pay for his ill conceived ideas. It put Margaret in a great deal of debit and though she did get a job in an insurance office, it put countless amounts of pressure on her to get those debts paid off. It was pressure that was still there.
That meant, of course, that with Ginny now 18 and going to school, even at a local school, Margaret was taxed to the maximum getting Sandy's debts finally paid off —- the amount was now 'down to' about $20,000 but that still was a mountain for her on her salary, especially with Ginny in school.
So, looking over the cars in the mall, after their dinner out, was an exercise in pure fantasy for them.
Margaret Gaines Ackermann was a willowy 36 year old. The marriage to Sandy had had its effect on her and she looked a bit tired around the edges because of it. She was a pretty woman and nicely built with rounded curves, but, since all of Sandy's shenanigans, she wasn't in 'the man market', as she put it, at all.
She and Ginny walked slowly among the cars displayed. There were sedans, and SUVs and pickup trucks but there was also a snazzy looking Mustang, that Ginny loved. They lingered around the Mustang, taking a close look at it and talking about it.
.... There is more of this story ...