When Alan Trusler sent $1,200 to his daughter Melissa, he may have hoped that the money would prove to be the perfect birthday gift. As it happens, though, Alan would be the one receiving a surprise – as when he received a response to his present, it wasn’t from Melissa.
Melissa Trusler works as a sales executive in Seattle, Washington. And in May 2017 the young woman was getting ready to celebrate her 30th birthday, which would fall later in the month. That special occasion wouldn’t go unmarked by Melissa’s dad Alan, either, because the Colville resident was planning a big gesture for his daughter.
In particular, Alan knew that Melissa had had her eye on a new couch. It wasn’t just any old model, either, but a modern gray couch complete with USB ports and reclining sections. And, in a kind gesture, Melissa’s dad had decided to help her buy the piece of furniture that she desired.
So, in the days before Melissa’s 30th, Alan decided he’d deposit $1,200 into her PayPal account. That way, she could purchase the couch as a birthday present. However, despite his best intentions, Alan’s money didn’t reach his daughter.
The first Melissa had known of the cash, in fact, was when her dad had called her out of the blue. And what he told her may have led her to fear that neither of them would ever see the money again. Melissa remembered that conversation with her father in a 2017 interview with The News Tribune, explaining, “He said, ‘I accidentally sent the money to somebody else.’”
Meanwhile, 33 miles away from Seattle in Tacoma, Gerrell McAllister was waking up to the biggest surprise of his life. A subject line reading “You’ve got money!” had caught his eye in his email inbox. That, in turn, had led him to PayPal, where $1,200 had been deposited into his account.
Describing his reaction to the mystery donation, McAllister said to The News Tribune, “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.”
It turned out that Melissa’s dad had accidentally sent the money meant for her to McAllister. He had used his daughter’s new cellphone number to send over the cash; that number had used to belong to McAllister, however, and he still had it linked to his PayPal account.
Back in Seattle, meanwhile, Melissa was desperately trying to figure out how to get the money back. However, the PayPal website informed her that she would have to try and solve the problem herself. So, needless to say, the young woman was at a loss.
But as Melissa wondered what to do next, her father received a PayPal notification. Incredibly, McAllister had returned the cash within just 30 minutes of receiving it. And the Truslers probably didn’t believe their luck.
After hearing the good news, then, Melissa messaged the stranger to thank him for his honesty. However, she could perhaps never have imagined the response she’d receive from McAllister. And, as it happens, his candid words really affected her.
In his reply, McAllister had said, “You’re so very welcome! 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-ass culture we as western Washingtonians have worked so hard to cultivate.”
McAllister added, “That, in turn, would help me to stop kicking myself in the ass 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.”
Sadly, McAllister had lost his beloved mom in December 2016, after she had suffered a pulmonary embolism. Since then, the young father had been struggling to come to terms with her death. However, it was his mother’s advice that had led him to return the money.
Explaining the reasoning behind his altruistic action, McAllister said to The News Tribune, “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.”
And as McAllister told the newspaper, he didn’t regret not taking the cash for himself. As it turned out, though, the dad would receive a boost of his own, after Melissa shared their story on Facebook and Reddit. And, in order to help the stranger in his hour of need, she included his payment details in the posts.
Consequently, it wasn’t long before people started sending McAllister donations. Melissa later said to The News Tribune, “I guarantee you [McAllister]’s received more money now than he would have if he kept the money.” She added, “I think people are overwhelmed by his goodness. You just don’t expect a stranger to send the money back.”
McAllister was so overwhelmed by the kindness of strangers, in fact, that he couldn’t even check his PayPal balance. He did however read the messages that accompanied many donations, some of which he would later describe as “heartwarming.”
And just as McAllister’s mother had once taught him the difference between right and wrong, McAllister was now demonstrating this for his young daughter through his own actions. “She thinks it’s great,” he told The Independent in 2017. “She loves the fact that I’m as caring as she is, because she’s super-caring.”
However, according to Melissa, you don’t have to be five years old to learn something from McAllister’s actions. She said to The Independent, “I feel like there’s so much tension right now. People don’t interact.” And she added, “I feel this experience shows how important it is to share good stories. It’s so important to share these stories.”