378 People “Pay It Forward” At A Starbucks Drive-Through

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Almost 400 people bought coffee for the customer behind them at a drive-through Starbucks in St. Petersburg, Florida, on Wednesday. That morning, after paying for her own drink, a woman asked to pay for the drink of the customer in the car next in line behind her. That person paid it forward by paying for the person behind them, and the chain of kindness continued until baristas tallied 378 people paying for strangers’ drinks. When each driver arrived at the drive-through window to pay for their orders, barista Vu Nguyen would let them know that the driver in front of them had paid for their drink and asked if they’d like to return the favor.

As the chain went on for hours, the customers started to wonder what they’d do if the chain kept going until closing time, and thought about trying to continue it through the next day. Finally, that evening, after hundreds of people had continued the chain, a customer pulled up to order a plain coffee. When Nguyen asked if she’d like to participate in the pay-it-forward chain, she had no interest in paying for any drink but her own. The next morning, a new charitable chain started and went on until 2 p.m. when a local blogger named Peter Schorsch ended it.

On his website, he wrote:

What is not an act of kindness is what was happening today at the same Starbucks, where customers were being told that they had had their drink paid for and then asked would they like to pay for the drink of the person next in line. That’s not generosity, that’s guilt. When a new ‘Pay It Forward’ chain started today, I had to put an end to it. So, yes, I drove to the Starbucks, purchased two Venti Mocha Frappuccinos and, even though someone in front of me had paid for one of my drinks, I declined the barista’s suggestion to pay for the drink of the person behind me.

Schorsch didn’t like the way the local media was touting what he saw as a “faux act of generosity.” I understand his annoyance, because plenty of attention-grabbing feel-good stories aren’t really about altruism at all, but it takes some serious crankiness to get in your car and drive over to the Starbucks to intentionally ruin this thing. Come on dude, lighten up. To make up for taking the fun out of the day, Schorsch says he gave the baristas a $100 tip “ just to prove that I am not a 100 percent grinch.” [Tampa Bay Times] [Image via Sean Wandzilak/Shutterstock.com]

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