Paying It Forward
Paying it forward is very popular these days. I’m not sure if we’ve just started referring to this trendy term when helping others or if it just has more exposure these days because of social media and other news outlets. Chances are you’ve taken part in paying it forward whether you’ve wanted to or not. It was originally intended to get people to go out of their way to do something kind for someone that they wouldn’t normally do, in the hopes that the person they helped would do the same for someone else when the opportunity presented itself. In a perfect world, everyone would help everyone in times of need leaving no one behind (like a good Karma security blanket for everyone to snuggle under). Unfortunately, it’s gone from random acts of kindness to pointless acts of kindness.
Let me start off with a major disclaimer. Helping others, paying it forward, and doing random acts of kindness are things that everyone should be proud of participating in. Please, DO spare change to those who have no coins for a meter, DO jump someone’s car when it dies in the middle of the road, DO help the elderly with their grocery bags, but don’t do this:
Pay for the person’s order behind you at the drive thru and drive by the guy with a flat tire yelling out your window Sorry! I already bought the guy behind me a Venti Iced Mocha, maybe next time! Buying a four dollar coffee didn’t benefit anyone. Sure it made you feel good, but the guy behind you was quite alright buying his own drink. Hence the reason he was in line in the first place. All you’ve done is put him in an awkward position to buy the person’s order behind him. Which usually ends up being a mini van with four people ordering coffee and breakfast, thanks a lot. Stop taking the Drive Thru to making yourself feel better and actually get out of the car and help someone in need.
Some might say, we shouldn’t feel obligated to buy the next person’s drink…the point is to pay it forward somewhere else. That sounds great. Unfortunately, companies have taken advantage of this drive-thru random act of kindness, and have turned it into a publicity stunt. It’s no longer a simple the man in front of you took care of your coffee, remember to pay it forward today, but rather a the man in front of you took care of your coffee, would you like to take care of the person behind you so we can hit the record of the most pay it forwards in one drive-thru line?. If you think about it, no matter how long the drive-thru line was: one person wanted to buy someone’s coffee and left feeling good, one person got a free coffee and left feeling good, and however many people were in the middle of that chain simply just paid for the wrong check. The only reason the drive-thru cashier wants to you to keep paying it forward in the same line, is so that there will be a local article on Facebook later on saying their store hit a high record.
Buying someone’s coffee isn’t a bad thing, but buying someone’s coffee and expecting it to be your get-out-of-helping-someone card later on, is. It’s like going to church on Sundays, and sinning Monday through Saturday. It’s just not credible. It’s a wonderful feeling to offer a helping hand to those in need, and it should be done more often. So, keep buying the person’s order behind you, and offering your umbrella to someone walking in the rain. Just remember, paying it forward is to make sure we’re taking that extra step for someone else, not to make sure some brand’s drive thru makes it to the news.
To all of the nice and lovely people who just genuinely love paying for the person’s order behind them, keep it up…I hope I’m behind you in line one day (and that there’s no one else behind me).