I like to savor the quiet moments, the peaceful contemplative moments, the scenic moments when the weather is changing.

But I also like to seek out moments of adventure. Sometimes a moment turns into hours or days, and I am sorry I embarked. I am sorry that I started rowing down a river, or hiking a forest trail, or cleaning out a barn. But usually my little domestic adventures are interesting or enlightening.

Last week I had an unexpected moment that has not ended, and I hope it never does. But I may never know the end. It was a pay-it-forward adventure. I have often been the recipient of a pay-it-forward act. These moments frequently happen at Chick-fil-A or Starbucks. I’ll have my money ready at the drive-thru only to learn that the person in front of me, who has already driven away, paid for my lunch. So I just pay for the next person. I don’t know who breaks the chain or when.

I had been to the library to return some books and overheard a snatch of conversation. (True adventurers must never be afraid of eavesdropping). Cary at the library told Diane at the library that she was putting “this” behind the counter because a woman from Griffin was driving over to check it out. Of course, I then had to do a little head twisting and peering to see what was so important that a woman would drive over from Griffin an hour before closing time to check out.

I tried to be discreet, but they know I am nosy, and I did finally see that it was the Zoo Atlanta CD.

Georgia Public Libraries have partnered with several state agencies to make family adventures more affordable. You can get free tickets to Zoo Atlanta, Go Fish, the Carlos Museum, the Center for Puppetry Arts and more at your local library. There are catches of course. You must have a valid library card and, usually, you have to read a small book or brochure. But if you follow the procedures the nice people at our library will give out a limited number of free passes to various educational sites around the state.

To get into the Go Fish center in Perry — which I hear is worth the visit — one must read a book or a brochure or maybe watch a video. To get tickets to Zoo Atlanta one must watch a video, so I knew immediately that the mysterious caller from Griffin was planning a thrifty trip to the zoo.

I checked out my books and went on to the drugstore. I needed sundries (whatever that is) and grooming items. Is that the same as sundries? I quickly picked up what I needed, but then spent way too much time in the greeting card section choosing a birthday card. I couldn’t decide on serious or funny so I bought one of each. My grandchildren usually get three cards for any occasion: A funny one, an encouraging one that tells them how wonderful they are, and a sappy one that tells them how much I love them — and then I write notes all over the cards and underline as well. I spent a good 20 minutes in the card section.

I took some time paying for my items. I made them tear off the long printout of advertising and useless coupons at the bottom of my receipt before I accepted it. I asked for another bag because the one she gave me was limp and kept collapsing like a stocking to the ankle. It was also too small and my items turning over and falling out. I always deliberately and carefully put my change in my change purse and my receipt in my wallet. I sort of turned to one side and apologized to the person behind me for being so slow.

She smiled and said, “Take your time, I’m just trying to buy a Coke so I can get $2 cash. I need $2 to check out a video at the library.” But I knew the library would be closing soon.

I moved on over and turned again and said, “Why would you need $2 to check out a CD?” She explained that her library card had expired, and it costs $2 to renew it. And in these modern times, not much can be done to help people out because of the way the system computers operate.

We went back and forth for a while. I offered $2. She tried to buy a Coke with a credit card only to learn that the computers won’t allow cash back. So finally she took my $2. Several others had come up and offered $2 along with me. (One was a teenager — that made me proud.)

The hapless woman from Griffin made me tell her my name and address before she took the money and said she would pay me back. I said, “Pay it forward.”

I felt good. Everyone in line felt good.

I hope she felt good.

Cheryl Hilderbrand is a Jackson writer

and educator. Email her at

cherrylmach@gmail.com