Last week, twenty-eight-year-old Gerrell McAllister woke up to what seemed like some great news. When he checked his email that morning, he had a message that read, “You’ve got money!” in the subject line.
Wait a minute … why? That’s what McAllister was wondering! At first, he thought it was some kind of a joke. But when he opened up that email, he realized it had come via PayPal, and someone had deposited a whopping $1200 into his account!
McAllister said, “You know how in the movies the person will open the briefcase, discover it’s full of money and then quickly shut it and look around to make sure no one was watching? Yeah, I definitely did that and I was definitely alone when it happened.”
Meanwhile, a man by the name of Alan Trusler was feeling pretty good, knowing that he just gifted his twenty-nine-year-old daughter $1200 for her birthday! Melissa, his daughter, had already made plans to use it to buy a new sofa and USB ports for her house.
That pretty good feeling Trusler was experiencing didn’t last long. His stomach dropped as he realized he had made a mistake. Shortly thereafter, he called his daughter and explained, “I accidentally sent the money to somebody else.”
The mistake was innocent enough. PayPal customers can send money to family and friends simply by using their phone number or email. Melissa’s dad did exactly that. He sent the $1200 using her new phone number. That new number was coincidentally McAllister’s old phone number, but he hadn’t yet made that change in his Paypal account.
Now what?! The money ended up getting into the wrong hands, the hands of the aforementioned Gerrell McAllister. Of course, Alan and his daughter had no idea who McAllister was at the time, nor did McAllister have any idea who Alan Trusler was! But the Truslers learned that their money couldn’t have landed into the Paypal account of a better man.
When he realized what had happened, McAllister returned the money within 30 minutes! Melissa sent a thank you note to McAllister via Facebook, and McAllister replied:
“You’re so very welcome!” McAllister wrote. “But if you could tell your family and friends that a low income 28-year-old Black man from Tacoma with a five-year-old daughter returned your money, I would find that helpful in improving race relations while reaffirming the dope a@# culture we as Western Washingtonians have worked so hard to cultivate. And that, in turn, would help me to stop kicking myself in the butt for remaining morally sound through the tough times my family and I are experiencing at the moment, lol. In short, share the story, spread the love. Thank You.”
McAllister’s response compelled Melissa to post his comment on Reddit and Facebook and included how to give money to McAllister via PayPal.
When people saw his message and what he had done and written, they saw a light of hope that quite frankly, we could use a lot more of in today’s world. And then people started sending McAllister money.
When asked for the reason he returned the money, McAllister said, “Because my mom taught me better than to take what isn’t rightfully mine. She taught me to always try my best to do the right thing even if no one’s watching … a little thing called integrity. Why should I make someone else suffer just to ‘get ahead’? What does that do in the grand scheme of things? It keeps the destructive cycle going. I’d rather not contribute to that. Thank my mom.”
We all wish we could. McAllister’s mom passed away in early December, 2016. due to a pulmonary embolism. Mario Small, McAllister’s older brother, said it has been particularly tough on McAllister. “My mom would be so proud of him for his actions, and I couldn’t be any more proud of him,” Small said.
McAllister has been overwhelmed by the generosity of others who appreciated his words and actions. The donations he is receiving are usually accompanied by sincere and heartwarming messages, and it’s clear McAllister values those messages more than any dollar amount that comes his way. Thank you, McAllister. it could have happened to anybody, but we’re sure glad this “accident” happened to you.