Saturday, January 8, 2011

Pay it Forward

Friday morning started out just like any other day: I woke up, started the coffee, took a shower, and finished getting ready for my day.  Everything was going fine until I realized that I had left my travel mug at school the previous day and I wasn't going to be able to bring my coffee with me (I can't use a regular mug because, no matter what, I will spill).  I was counting on my caffeine to get through the morning, so I became irrationally frustrated with the situation.  I determined that if I wanted to be able to swing by Starbucks on my way into work, I would have to leave right then, and grab breakfast there while I was at it.  I knew that I shouldn't be spending $7 on coffee and a breakfast sandwich when we're trying to save money, but by that point, I had already justified the expense in my head.

Fast forward to about 35 minutes later, and I pull up to the intercom to place my order in the Drive Through line at Starbucks.  I decided to be adventurous and try a different drink other than my standard Grande Soy Chai Latte.  I got for the Caramel Macciato and a bacon, egg, and gouda breakfast sandwich, and drive forward.  Fortunately, the line was a short one and I only had to wait for 2 other orders ahead of mine.

Once the first car pulled away, the second one pulled up to the window and received their order.  I looked at the clock, pleased that I was going to be able to get in and out of the line as quickly as I did... until the car directly in front of me took forever to get the rest of their order.  Since I was already irrationally annoyed with the day so far, I became very peeved with the customer in front of me, especially when they finally got the rest of the order and their change and only pulled halfway out of the drive through window and stopped!  Eventually they moved on, and I bitterly pulled up to the window to pay and get out of there so I could be on time to get to school.

The lady at the window double checked my order, and as I was handing her my card, she told me "Your meal is actually free today.  The person in the car ahead of you paid for it!"  I was shocked, and immediately felt guilty for being annoyed with the customer who was taking so much time in front of me.  The lady gave me my drink and sandwich, and then also handed me a letter from the person who had kindly paid for my order explaining that it wasn't a gimmik and that hopefully I would be inspired.  Being the recipient of an act of paying it forward completely turned my day around.  I walked into school with a huge smile on my face and have been in a good mood ever since.  I told each of my classes about my experience and told them that I hoped that it would inspire them to do something giving as well.  I have also made the decision to show my advisory students the movie "Pay it Forward" and help them come up with their own act of paying it forward.

This weekend, my goal is to pay it forward somewhere in St. Paul and hope that I can make a random stranger feel as great as I did on Friday morning.