An Unlikely Message
Ashley picked up the $5 bill that had fallen out of her book. How did it end up there? This was a brand new book. There was no way someone had forgotten the bill inside its pages.
She quickly ruffled through the pages of the book. She didn’t know what she was looking for, but she knew if there was an explanation, it may be inside of it. When she got to the last two pages, she opened her eyes wide. A hot pink post-it was staring back at her. Incredulous, Ashley started reading its content. She smiled wide. It was everything she needed at that moment.
Ashley Jost is a 27-year-old young woman living in Columbia, Missouri. She thrives on good vibes and challenges.
She can always be spotted with a smile on her lips. Her good fortune follows her even when she is grocery shopping.
Heading to Target one day, she didn’t expect her day to turn into a fantastic experience.
Pushing the cart and carefully screening the products, Jost abruptly stopped in front of the book aisle.
Those colorful book covers were calling for her. Did she have time to read a whole book though? Before she could push the question any further, she remembered the pact she had made with her girlfriends.
She had made a deal with her friends, and it may be the right time to honor it.
They had started a challenge with which they should read at least 10 pages a day for 75 days.
“It takes commitment, but it’s for my own good,” she thought. As she was browsing the books, one cover caught her attention.
“Girl, Stop Apologizing”
The cover read “Girl, Stop Apologizing” alongside a gorgeous lady confidently posing. Jost grinned. “What a straightforward title,” she thought.
She also remembered that someone had mentioned this book before. They said that it was “an easy read and kind of inspirational.”
She concluded, “Okay, 17 bucks, I’ll just grab this book and it’ll be my first read of this challenge.”
She didn’t know that these $17 would bring her more than a simple book.
Exhausted from her trip to Target, all Jost wanted was to get home and lay down. As soon as she opened her front door, her dog came running in a frenzy.
She put her groceries down and took her new book in her hands. She dived right into the first chapter of the book.
After her reading session, she tossed the book on the ottoman with a sigh of satisfaction. Her dog then started barking immediately at something on the floor.
Jost looked down, and let out a gasp.
The $5 Bill
Jost quickly calmed her dog down. She looked down and spotted a folded piece of paper on the ground.
She picked it up, it was a $5 bill. How did it get there? She didn’t have any bill on her, so it couldn’t have fallen out her pocket. Did she drop it earlier? She was positive the floor was spotless though. She looked at her book quizzically. Could it come from there?
The Pink Note
The bill was perfectly folded. Was it possible that it could come from her new book? If it did, how did it end up there? Maybe someone forgot the bill within one of the pages. That seemed highly unlikely, but Jost didn’t have a better explanation.
She opened the book and ruffled through the pages. Nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary at first. At the very end of the book, a pink piece of paper grabbed her attention. Ashley’s curiosity was piqued. She carefully picked the note up. She knew it wasn’t part of the book.
Jost quickly realized that the paper wasn’t empty. On one side, someone had neatly scribbled a few sentences.
“To the person who buys this book. I am having a tough day. I thought maybe I could brighten someone else’s with this little surprise. Go buy a coffee, a donut, or a face mask. Practice some self-care today.”
Jost was feeling all warm on the inside. She kept on reading:
“Remember that you are loved. You are amazing. You are strong. —Love, Lisa”
With her hand on her mouth, Jost didn’t know what to think of this extraordinary encounter.
Jost remembers her emotions at that moment and said: “I read it once, and I read again, and I thought ‘Dang, this is really neat.'”
This felt like a “surreal” experience. She explained: “This is something that only happens to strangers on the internet, not some random person in the middle of Missouri who just happens to decide in the heat of the moment to buy this book at Target.”
Jost didn’t stop there. She wanted other people to feel as blessed as she had felt at that moment.
Life was tight for many others in her area, and Jost knew it.
“We live in a college town where there are so many people living paycheck to paycheck, so I decided I wanted to do one random act of kindness every day this week, each worth $5.”
What seemed like a simple gesture would then transform into a real phenomenon.
Paying It Forward
On Monday, the young girl sent a $5 Starbucks gift card to a friend. Later on, she wrote a note similar to Lisa’s. She placed another gift card, with a note, in the library of the university where she works.
She made sure to end the note with the same uplifting words she received. “I made a point of ending my note with the same words Lisa wrote to me. ‘Remember that you are loved, you are amazing, you are strong.'”
And she would soon learn that she wasn’t the only one to do so.
Shortly after, as Ashley was chatting with her family, her dad gave her some pretty amazing news.
Her dad told her that he had bought the groceries of the person behind him. He was inspired by the random act of kindness Lisa had shown to his daughter.
Ashley knew that Lisa’s note could inspire even more people, so she picked up her phone and opened Twitter.
Ashley fired up her Twitter. She had previously shared a post with a small caption and a picture of the book, the $5 bill, and the note. She wrote:
“I just finished a chapter of a book I bought at Target in Columbia, Mo., this morning. Afterward, I tossed it on the ottoman and $5 fell out onto the floor. Then I found this note. Wow. People are so cool.”
However, Ashley had no idea if people had seen her post or not. As soon as she opened her app, a surprise was waiting for her.
The post blew up! The very next day, on Tuesday afternoon, the tweet had almost 300 retweets and more than 3,000 favorites. Many other Facebook threads took over the story and shared it with their communities as well.
Ashley was overwhelmed with the positive response. After reading the comments, she discovered why her post became so popular.
Engagement And Good Vibes
“I think the engagement is an indicator that people just sort of need the pick-me-up,” Ashley confessed. “We need it all the time, but we particularly do when heading into the work week and in this busy time of the year.”
While the young woman was startled by the encouraging comments, she was even more stunned by the actions that ensued.
Twitter users not only shared their supportive comments, but they also decided to start a chain of good deeds of their own.
One user commented: “Lisa inspired me to conduct my own RAK [Random Act of Kindness] today. Thanks for sharing!” Another one shared: “What a beautiful gesture! We should all strive to do something kind for someone else whenever we’re feeling low. The world would be a better place.”
Soon enough, this tweet would even catch the attention of big news outlets.
Ashley was scrolling through her comments when one of them made her stop in her tracks.
“This is great! Could we please use your picture on TV today for E.W. Scripps stations?” Ashley quickly replied with a big yes. This was a golden opportunity to inspire more people. But it didn’t stop at that. KOMU-TV, the NBC -affiliated television station licensed to Columbia, Missouri called her for an interview.
The big story sparked national debate and people were wondering who this Lisa was.
Twitter users were speculating over the identity of Lisa in the comments section. Some shared online that they wished they had known who Lisa was. After all, she deserved a big part of the credit.
As days went on, it was clear that Lisa’s identity was to remain anonymous. She either didn’t catch wind of the impact she had caused, or she wanted to keep her anonymity. While Jost couldn’t reach her, she had one wish she wanted to share with her.
Lisa concluded her interview with two messages. One for Lisa and one for us all:
“I hope wherever she is, hopefully, her day has improved, her chapter of life has improved, and I would definitely tell her ‘Thank you.'”
She continued: “She gave back to her community, which is something we all can do. Even if it’s as simple as a smile. That smile goes a long way.”
We couldn’t agree more.