And today in stories that might restore your faith in humanity just a little bit: A Starbucks in St. Petersburg, Florida, experienced a fabulous chain of people “paying it forward” for a whopping 11 eleven hours. For those 11 hours, the caffeine-loving public making their way through the drive-through each bought coffee for the next person in line behind them. It may not be a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but sometimes, you just need something silly, goofy, and heartwarming to remind you that the world isn’t always a terrible place — especially right now.
According to Bay 9 News, the chain began at 7 a.m. on Wednesday morning, when a woman in her 60s told the cashier that she was paying both for her own iced coffee and for the caramel macchiato the stranger behind her had ordered. When the caramel macchiato drinker reached the cashier, that person, too, opted to pay for the drink of the next person in line. Eventually, enough people had paid it forward that the Starbucks employees started keeping a tally. After each person had placed their order and driven through to the window, the barista smiled, told them that their drink had been taken care of by the person before them, and asked them if they’d like to return the favor. And wouldn't you know it? They did!
I love this. So, so much. It is the best thing I have read all day. Possibly all week, even.
By the time 6 p.m. rolled around, the baristas had tallied
378 people. They started brainstorming ideas for how to handle it if they made
it all the way to 10 p.m. — closing time — with an unbroken chain … but alas, all
good things must come to an end. Barista Vu Nguyen told the Tampa Bay Times
that customer No. 379, a woman who drove a white Jeep Commander, declined to
continue the chain; she just wanted to pay for her own drink, not someone else’s.
Nguyen suspects she “didn’t understand the concept of paying it forward.” Awww. Sad.
This isn’t the first time in recent memory something like this has happened; a Starbucks in Connecticut saw a similar phenomenon around Christmas 2013. I think the Connecticut one wins the prize for Longest Pay-It-Forward Incident at a Starbucks — it began on Christmas Eve and continued for days afterwards, reaching a staggering 1,500 participants by the time it finally ended. But it’s not a contest, of course; paying it forward never is. It’s about good will, good feeling, and a “today you, tomorrow me” mentality that so often gets lost in our big, messy world.
So let’s all make it a point to pay it forward — whatever “it” is for you. Maybe it’s a coffee. Maybe it’s a kind word. Maybe it’s something else entirely. Whatever it is, though … it’s worth it.