Sometimes, it takes nothing more than a small, seemingly insignificant gesture to change our perspective. I had one of those experiences today that, in and of itself, was no big deal, but it made me think about the way we treat others and what a difference that random acts of kindness could make if we all made a little effort.
So, I was out running around today and found myself over in Ontario. As I usually do when in the area, I called Marcia to see if she wanted me to swing by her office with something from Starbucks. Of course, she didn’t hesitate, so off I went to the Starbucks in Chino Hills, conveniently located near her office and has an even more convenient drive through. Already frustrated from California drivers, I pulled into the drive through, only to see what looked like several hundred other cars in front of me. Great. Oh well, I’m lazy, so I just pulled into line to wait my turn.
I admit that the wait was much shorter than I anticipated, so after placing my order, I pulled up to the window within about ten minutes. I noticed as the SUV in front of me pulled away that a few of the four teenagers inside were holding their arms out of the window and making the thumbs up sign. Whatever. I didn’t really think anything of it, knowing how often I had stuck appendages out the window when I was their age.
Here’s the thing. When I tried to hand the Barista my credit card, she told me that I didn’t owe her anything. What? Perhaps their credit card machine was down or they were giving freebies to compensate for the longer than usual wait. At least those were the only reasons I could think of. Then, while trying to contain her laughter, the nice young lady told me that I didn’t owe her anything because the kids in the vehicle in front of me paid my tab. Now I’m really confused.
Apparently, someone about six cars in front of me decided to pay for their own order, as well as the order of the car behind them. This snowballed and the Customers in each successive vehicle did the same. So by the time it got to me, the Barista was somewhat in shock that this had continued as long as it had, instead of someone just saying “screw them”, taking the free order and leaving. Not to disappoint, I took the free stuff and left.
Okay, I didn’t. Knowing that there were at least four more vehicles behind me, I decided to keep it going, handed over my credit card and paid for the person behind me. Immediately after handing over my card, I wondered if I was going to be paying for frappucinos for an entire office building, but fortunately, the bill for the people behind me was the same as what mine would have been.
I’m curious how long this continued. I think it’s probably safe to assume that it did at least through the remaining vehicles that were in line, but I wonder if more pulled in and it kept going. I suppose it doesn’t really matter. After all, the first guy made the gesture and the last guy will get free stuff, but everyone else just played musical bills. Everyone in the middle still paid for something, but the small gesture of someone you’ve never met paying for your coffee is enough to put a smile on just about anyone’s face. Even a heartless prick such as myself.
Once again, it’s kind of a stupid little thing, but it shows how one person making one kind gesture can snowball and put smiles on the faces of many.