This morning I drove to Starbucks to pick up coffee for us. The car ahead of me — a light blue Mustang — paid for our order. What a sweet and lovely gesture for the first day of the year.
This is a frequent practice. Once and sometimes twice a week, people ahead of me buy my coffee.
First world problem, right? I’m addicted to Starbucks coffee. I also like that the company supports employees with health insurance and other benefits. I’m willing to pay a little more so employees can make a living wage. Blessed with a good job , I can afford it.
I am momentarily grateful but something bothers me about it. Perhaps, though sweet, it is an unneeded act.
My dad says “People spent their money on what they want, and what is important to them. You shouldn’t judge.”
Of course, he is right. People can spend anything they want, anyway they want.
This pay-it-forward practice happens at Starbucks all across the world. (Yes, there’s a Starbucks in the basement of the Louvre, and in other strange places. I took this picture in October 2011.)
Do you remember The New Yorker cartoon with astronauts arriving on Mars, only to find a barren red landscape and Starbucks?
A quick Google search found multiple stories including:
- Breaking a Pay-it-Forward Chain isn’t Being a Cheap Bastard
- Starbucks Customers Pay it Forward for Nearly 11 Hours
- Kindness Idea/Pay the Tab for the Person Behind You
- Man who DELIBERATELY sabotaged Starbucks
- 400 people in a row pay it forward at Starbucks
- Cheap Bastard Ends 10 Hours of Starbucks Customers
In this unscientific research, many people are angry at the person who “breaks the chain.”
Here’s my modest proposal and the thinking behind it. Please hold back on throwing your green plastic stoppers and paper cups at me.
The line of cars at my Starbucks is usually filled with upscale sedans or nice SUVs. I suspect buying a five dollar cup of coffee at Starbucks isn’t going to keep them from paying bills. What if we each put five dollars away and gave it to the charity of our choice? Doing this weekly assures five hundred dollars by year end.
And if that doesn’t turn you on, increase by $500 the amount of money you give to one of the charities you support.
Many of the vehicles in line are adorned with bumper sticks promoting schools, the environment, and political candidates. Those of us blessed with good jobs most likely support something or someone. Why not put the cost of one cup away each week and share the funds with those you support or the Red Cross or the homeless. Or take a tray of drinks from Starbucks to the local Red Cross office, or homeless shelter for the workers?
What the person ahead of me does is really none of my business. Yes, I benefit. But I don’t need it, and others may benefit from the funds. Consider the beneficiaries of your generosity.
It’s something to think about. Kindness, I believe, is never a bad thing.
Cross-posted at BlogHer