A complete stranger paid this man's $2,000 car bill, no questions asked.

When you were a child, this may have been the most frightening situation you could imagine:

Pure terror. Photo via iStock.


But now that you're an adult, I'd guess that this situation is far more anxiety-inducing:

Photo via iStock.

Like the dreaded dentist's appointment, an unexpected trip to the auto mechanic rarely signals fun times ahead. Instead, car troubles fill our hearts with fear and, even worse, our wallets with emptiness. Three hundred dollars for a radiator hose?! Sure, I guess that sounds right... (*cries into checkbook*).

In early March, Keith Burkitt of Houston, Texas, was just like the rest of us: a driver putting off a trip to the auto repair shop.

As Burkitt told ABC affiliate KTRK, his car's alignment was shot, but he knew that fixing it would cost a lot more than he could afford at the time. While speaking with a customer at the restaurant where he worked, Burkitt joked, "I had to turn my wheel all the way to the right just to make the car go straight."

But what happened next was something right out of "Pay It Forward." Despite the fact that he didn't even know the server's last name, the customer in question told Burkitt he had "a friend across the street who could fix it."

Even more incredible?

The customer offered to pay Burkitt's bill, no matter what it cost.

So the next morning, an astonished Burkitt took his car to the mechanic at the Exxon station the customer had mentioned. He replaced all four shocks and struts on Burkitt's car, cleaned his fuel lines, and replaced his timing and serpentine belts. The total cost was a whopping $1,975.

True to his word, the near-stranger had already covered the bill in full. When Burkitt attempted to partially reimburse him, the stranger reminded him of the power of generosity:

"He just said, 'I'm not taking no for an answer, just pay it forward someday,'" Burkitt told ABC News.

We've seen many instances of people "paying it forward" before.

Don't forget about the church that (literally) paid it forward by giving a pizza delivery guy a $700 tip, and the police officer who gave out presents instead of tickets one afternoon in December.

Whether it's something as simple as holding a door for a stranger or donating blood or volunteering some of your time on the occasional weekend, stories like these can inspire each of us to better the world around us in small ways, because paying it forward can be about so much more than money.

This kind of story also makes me believe that every single human possesses true kindness. Maybe being the change you want to see in the world is not just some lofty ideal that we should all aspire to — maybe it's actually just a matter of pure will.

So the next time your faith in humanity is rocked (which, given our current political climate, has probably already happened twice today alone), ask yourself what you can do to restore it.

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash
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This story was originally shared on Capital One.

Inside the walls of her kitchen at her childhood home in Guatemala, Evelyn Klohr, the founder of a Washington, D.C.-area bakery called Kakeshionista, was taught a lesson that remains central to her business operations today.

"Baking cakes gave me the confidence to believe in my own brand and now I put my heart into giving my customers something they'll enjoy eating," Klohr said.

While driven to launch her own baking business, pursuing a dream in the culinary arts was economically challenging for Klohr. In the United States, culinary schools can open doors to future careers, but the cost of entry can be upwards of $36,000 a year.

Through a friend, Klohr learned about La Cocina VA, a nonprofit dedicated to providing job training and entrepreneurship development services at a training facility in the Washington, D.C-area.

La Cocina VA's, which translates to "the kitchen" in Spanish, offers its Bilingual Culinary Training program to prepare low-and moderate-income individuals from diverse backgrounds to launch careers in the food industry.

That program gave Klohr the ability to fully immerse herself in the baking industry within a professional kitchen facility and receive training in an array of subjects including culinary skills, food safety, career development and English language classes.

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Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

Wil Wheaton speaking to an audience at 2019 Wondercon.

In an era of debates over cancel culture and increased accountability for people with horrendous views and behaviors, the question of art vs. artist is a tricky one. When you find out an actor whose work you enjoy is blatantly racist and anti-semitic in real life, does that realization ruin every movie they've been a part of? What about an author who has expressed harmful opinions about a marginalized group? What about a smart, witty comedian who turns out to be a serial sexual assaulter? Where do you draw the line between a creator and their creation?

As someone with his feet in both worlds, actor Wil Wheaton weighed in on that question and offered a refreshingly reasonable perspective.

A reader who goes by @avinlander asked Wheaton on Tumblr:

"Question: I have more of an opinion question for you. When fans of things hear about misconduct happening on sets/behind-the-scenes are they allowed to still enjoy the thing? Or should it be boycotted completely? Example: I've been a major fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer since I was a teenager and it was currently airing. I really nerded out on it and when I lost my Dad at age 16 'The Body' episode had me in such cathartic tears. Now we know about Joss Whedon. I haven't rewatched a single episode since his behavior came to light. As a fan, do I respectfully have to just box that away? Is it disrespectful of the actors that went through it to knowingly keep watching?"

And Wheaton offered this response, which he shared on Facebook:

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."