To know the concept of
“pay it forward,” I hear, all you have to do is drink expensive
coffee and spend no time out of your car to get it. It happened
again today, at Starbucks on 303 in East Eastern East Bremerton.
(Technically, that’s Central Kitsap, but I answered the phone.)
Well, that’s not true if you wrote this letter, which said
“While it’s nice to buy a stranger a cup of coffee, Paying
it Forward involves doing significant good deeds. If all that
coffee money was spent instead on someone who needed it, that would
be Paying it Forward.”
Here’s how it works. Someone decides to buy the next person’s
order. That next person, it turns out, is you. You get to the
window, ready to pay for your somethingiatto and the attendant
tells you that the woman in the Pacer who just left paid for your
order. “Cool!” you think. Here’s where it ends, though. The
attendant then asks, “Would you like to pay for the next person’s
Shannon Bray of Bremerton was the 180th person in the “Pay it
Forward” line today at Starbucks. She thought it was pretty darned
neat. In fact, “neat” was her word. “Especially with the economy,
it’s really neat.”
Brynn Grimley, formerly of “The CK Beat,” said around the
holidays she was about 180th in one of these, and thinks another
time the woman in front of her broke the chain.
She takes some issue with the letter writer above, because she
really does need the coffee in the morning.
I called the Starbucks folks and they said the thing ended at
183, which they said might be a local record. No one really keeps
track, though. I say the record is 211. Go ahead. Disprove me.
Brynn and I talked about the nuance between this pay it forward
routine and what the letter writer proposed, that you do something
similar to what was done in the movie with the
kid who who was Forrest Gump‘s son and sees
dead people. In that movie, Pay
it Forward, the kid does a good deed and tells people
to pay it back by doing something good for three other people and
telling them to do the same, paying it forward instead of paying it
OK, so maybe buying a coffee in a cup and in a cake isn’t the
same as fixing someone’s bike or giving them your ticket to the
inauguration, but Brynn said it was pretty nice when it happened to
her. That’s probably the point, don’t you think.
If you focus on the money, then there are clear winners and
losers. Bray ordered a coffee and a treat, but the person behind
her only bought a cup, so she came out ahead financially.
If you don’t focus on the money, though, you get surprised by
someone’s generosity. Then you get the opportunity to continue the
good will. Maybe you feel guilted into it, but you don’t have to
feel that way. Today about 183 people had that choice. I bet more
than half of them talked about it with others. I bet a few of those
others will decide to do something nice. It could happen.