Yesterday morning, I was waiting in line at Starbucks to grab a quick coffee on my way to work. The guy in front of me paid with his phone, but his balance didn’t cover the cost. He stepped aside and started the process of reloading on his Starbucks app. He seemed like a nice enough guy; the baristas knew him well enough to suggest his drink before he ordered, and he was apologetic about his mistake once he learned that he had insufficient funds. I’m not sure why he didn’t just pull out a credit card to pay for the rest, but that’s not the point. I think he panicked and just wasn’t thinking clearly, as silly as that may sound. But, I digress.
As he stepped aside, I stepped up to the register, ordered my drink, and offered to pick up the rest of his bill. It was just a dollar, and it seemed like a good random-acts-of-kindness opportunity. Plus, I figure I’ll inevitably find myself in that same position at some point. I know I’d appreciate it if the person behind me in line just floated me the buck instead of impatiently glaring at me while the barista waits and eventually decides to void the transaction in order to ring up the next person. And so I suggested that she just add my coffee to the order, and I’d pay for the rest.
The Starbucks employee let me pay for the rest of his bill, but then she did something unexpected and gave me my coffee for free. I definitely wasn’t hoping for or expecting to get anything–I was just trying to help a guy who needed a dollar. I think it was just her way of saying, “Hey, thanks for being a good person.” It was a nice surprise, and I left Starbucks feeling like this is the way the world should work.
It really felt like wins all around, too. The guy who ran out of money got helped by a stranger and an unintentionally-cheaper drink. I got the satisfaction of helping out a stranger and an unintentionally-cheaper drink. And, finally, Starbucks gets more of my business for acknowledging, supporting, and rewarding a good deed at the expense of a cup of coffee. Thanks for that!