Would you like some guilt with that breakfast sandwich?

Would you like some guilt with that breakfast sandwich?

Would you like some guilt with that breakfast sandwich?

This might as well have been what the drive-thru employee at a popular restaurant asked me when I picked up my order one morning.

One day, I decided to get some breakfast from a restaurant I love.  I didn’t really need to be buying anything, but I wanted to treat myself that morning. So I pulled up to the drive-thru and placed my order. When I pulled up to the window and got my food, the employee told me that the person in front of me had paid for my order. I thought, “How exciting!” Who doesn’t like a surprise free meal? But then the employee gave a subtle look that implied people had been doing that all morning. Well, I proceeded to drive away, quickly feeling guilty about not continuing the chain of pay-it-forward breakfast payments.

It was hard for me to really enjoy my ‘breakfast of shame’, thinking about how the employee probably judged me for not “doing a good deed”.

We’ve all seen those stories about how hundreds of strangers have paid for each others meals in pay-it-forward style. It’s fun to see stories about people doing nice things for people they don’t even know. However, I recently saw an interesting article on Yahoo about the topic that really frustrated me. (When will I learn that nothing good comes from reading an article from the Yahoo front page? Well, that’s an article for another day.)

The title of the link read, “Ok, so who spoiled the Florida pay-it-forward?”

A Starbucks in Florida had reach 378 people who payed for each other’s drinks. However when it came to one woman, she said she only wanted to pay for her own drink. The writer of this article and many others criticized her for not paying for the next person’s drink like all the other people.

The Barista later told a reporter that he thought she didn’t understand the concept of paying it forward.

I have a few thoughts on this:

  1. When did acts of kindness become a competition? Essentially, they were trying to beat a previous record of people paying for each other’s drinks. It’s not always about doing something that people will see. The first person who paid for the drink did it because they genuinely wanted to do something nice for someone else, not because they felt pressured to or wanted to keep something going.
  2. Let’s be honest. If people are getting something from Starbucks, they’re most likely not suffering for money. 
  3. Sometimes people won’t acknowledge your “good deed” or may even try to reject it, but that shouldn’t stop us from ultimately extending kindness and love to one another.

Really, “pay-it-forward” acts are all about grace. It’s remembering that you have been given something you don’t deserve and doing the same for someone else.

Acts of kindness don’t always have to be big gestures. It’s all about doing something for someone else; showing kindness and love to another human – not always getting anything in return or even receiving any acknowledgment.