Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Last week we had a storm with resultant power outage. By the second day I was hankering for a nice hot cup of coffee and a hot breakfast, so I bundled up and drove to the nearest McDonald's because I love their coffee. To my dismay, it looked like everyone else had the same idea. A double line of cars were queued at the drive up window, stretching far out into the road. The parking lot was full. By then, I was in line and couldn't turn around. So I crept forward by inches with everyone else.

Finally, I reached the speaker box and placed my order. But when I got to the payment window, the girl waved me on, saying a nice man several cars ahead of us (and now long gone) had given her a handful of cash and told her to use it to pay for the meals of everyone in line until the money ran out! She told me I was the last person to get a free meal, leaving a balance of 10¢.

I was so touched by such unexpected bounty that I handed her my money anyway, and told her to apply it to the next car in line. She beamed, and said, "Wouldn't it be nice if this started a chain reaction?!!" Indeed, wouldn't it be nice! That man's act of generosity made my week. For the rest of that day I was filled with goodwill, not only from the unexpected kindness of a stranger, but that I was able to pay it forward to another stranger.

This isn't the first time I've been involved in something like this. I was at a Starbucks in a grocery store once, and after placing my order, the clerk smiled and said someone had already paid for it. Shortly thereafter, I paid $5 for a raffle ticket and won a $100 Starbucks gift card. I love Starbucks, but it would take me a year to use up $100. So I went to that same grocery store and got myself a Starbucks mocha and then told the clerk to keep the card and use it to cover customers' orders until it was used up. I left feeling ten feet tall. It made me feel so good to be able to do that, and it was fun imagining the reactions of recipients.

In fact, it became addictive. Every so often, I give the Starbucks clerk a little extra, to cover the next person in line behind me. Most of the times I can make my getaway quietly, but one time a lady followed me up and down the grocery store aisles, trying to catch up to me to thank me for such a pleasant surprise. I blushed. She blushed. And we parted company, each of us glowing with goodwill.

We're approaching the holiday season. It's a time for sharing. Won't you consider paying it forward sometime, and making a stranger happy? I guarantee you'll benefit as richly as the recipient.

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