Pay It Forward? It's Really For You

See if this makes you feel as good as it did me.  There's been an epidemic -- call it viral -- of people paying it forward.

You know.  Doing something nice for someone you don't know just because . . .   Just because.

According to Kate Murphy, last December at a Tim Hortons in Winnipeg, Manitoba, "228 consecutive cars paid it forward. A string of 67 cars paid it forward in April at a Chick-fil-A in Houston. And then a Heav’nly Donuts location in Amesbury, Mass., had a good-will train of 55 cars last July."

Just what exactly did they do?  Paid for the meal of the car behind them.

And where paying it forward in drive-throughs occurred maybe once or twice a year a decade ago, "now fast-food operators said it might happen several times a day," Hughes reports.

Why is this happening?  Hughes postulates it's because there's so much hatred and bad feeling in the world -- from the inability of Congress to come together to avoid the nation's shutdown to the chilling videotape of the mall siege and killing of children and babies, along with their parents, in Kenya. Or, closer to home, the parts of the fetus found in a shopping bag carried by a teenager at Times Square last week.

"Serial pay-it-forward incidents involving between 4 and 24 cars have been reported at Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Starbucks, Del Taco, Taco Bell, KFC and Dunkin’ Donuts locations in Maryland, Florida, California, Texas, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Georgia, Alabama, North Dakota, Michigan, North Carolina and Washington," Hughes notes.

But usually, it’s just one customer acting alone and perhaps routinely. “We have a lady who always pays it forward in the drive-through, every day,” Aaron Quinton, co-owner of Old School Bagel Cafe, in Tulsa, Okla., told Hughes. “I point at the person behind and she just nods.”

“It’s about giving, and letting people see not everybody is bad, and there are nice people out there and maybe we can turn it around,” Hughes quotes Connie Herring, an optical technician in St. Pauls, N.C., who pays it forward at drive-throughs at least once a week, though Hughes quickly points out Herring had second thoughts after paying 12 bucks at Starbucks for the person behind her.

But I think it's even more basic than that.  When I do something nice for someone -- a person who really has no relationship to me -- like letting them get in front of me on the road, or in line at the supermarket, or even noting the license plate of a car that backed into another in a parking lot and just took off, then placing it on the windshield of the damaged car -- I feel good about me.               


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