“Pay it Forward”…when you do something good for someone, in response to someone doing something good for you; however you don’t repay that person, you do something nice for someone else.
Recently, this phenomenon became prevalent at Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, etc., someone pays for the person behind them which compels that person to do the same. I love everything about Paying it Forward. In fact last fall, at least once a week, I would pay for my coffee at the Dunkin’ Donuts drive-thru with a Ten or a Twenty and ask them to use the change to pay for as many people behind me as possible. I love the idea of pleasantly surprising someone tired, grumpy and in need of caffeine; and the chain reaction it may cause. Maybe it compels them to pay for someone else as well. But what I love most is the idea that maybe that person was about to have a really bad day, possibly take it out on other people at work or school or wherever they are off to, and that maybe this turned their mood around just enough that they don’t take it out on other people. Hopefully stopping a chain reaction of negativity.
This morning I woke up feeling better than I have in well over 2 weeks. So I wasn’t displaying my recent take no prisoners driving style on my way to work. I was taking a right into Dunkin’ Donuts, one of those where the line for the drive-thru often starts on the street, and there was a woman already stopped in the other lane with her left blinker on waiting to turn in as well. Since the line technically starts on the street, and she was there before I was, I waved for her to pull in before me. Of course the driver behind me honked their horn in frustration because I slowed them down! (Which quite honestly I would have done yesterday, and I never would have let anyone pull in ahead of me.) When I pulled up to the first window to pay, I was told that the woman who I let pull in before me had paid for my coffee. So I handed the girl a Ten and said to pay for as many people behind me as possible.
I wasn’t intending to start a chain reaction, I was just displaying drive-thru etiquette, but that was enough to compel this woman to pay for my coffee. She inspired me to keep the chain going. Who knows what kind of mood the people behind me in line were in. Who knows how many chain reactions of negativity were broken just because she appreciated me letting her pull in before me. What I do know is that the whole situation helped to make me feel even better.
So the next time you have a chance, consider Paying it Forward. And never, ever underestimate the power of a random act of kindness.