Why I Won’t Pay It Forward at Starbucks Again

Why I Won’t Pay It Forward at Starbucks Again

More and more people are paying it forward. You hear about it a lot these days. Kind random gestures are happening all over. People are paying for those behind them in line or in front of them. It’s fantastic. It truly is. Kindness is a magical contagious thing.

But why did I hesitate to pay it forward when I had the opportunity at Starbucks?

I had ordered a muffin for my son, which I think is about $2.50 or so. I pulled up and the cashier told me the woman in front of me had paid for my muffin and she proceeded to ask if I’d like to pay it forward to the person behind me. Caught completely off guard and it being around the holidays, I only had enough cash that I was going to spend that day on gifts. I had asked her how much it was and she told me $10.00. I had to think about it, and it wasn’t just because of the money. Not wanting to be the one to stop the chain of kindness, I decided to pay it forward.

Did it make me feel good? I can’t say that it did.

I love to volunteer and help others in need. I run a small group of volunteering kids in which we work on fun community service projects each month. We give back to the homeless, animal shelters, seniors, and whoever else is in need. I feel good each time we do a project. I feel like we’re making a difference no matter how small. I feel someone out there is appreciating that peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I know what it feels like to do something special. I’d never hesitate to lend a helping hand to someone who needs it. I’d pay $10 for coffee or food in a heartbeat to someone who needed it.

I didn’t feel that way that day at Starbucks. Those who go to Starbucks aren’t in need. They probably aren’t scraping the bottom of the barrel for their coffee. If they are, there are certainly less expensive options out there. I’m not judging because I enjoy Starbucks myself but it’s true. It’s luxury coffee. Spending $10.00 in lattes isn’t a necessity. I understand it’s about kindness to others and I appreciate the nice gesture of the woman in front of me who paid for me but I would have much rather she saved that $2.50 and spent it that day on someone who truly needed it. I also wish I had saved mine as well. I guarantee the woman behind me appreciated it much less than someone with nothing would.

Next time, if someone pays it forward for me at Starbucks or any other drive-through such as that, I won’t pay it forward to the person behind me. Instead, I will make sure I pay it forward another way. Maybe I’ll pay it forward to the man in Walmart fumbling to get any loose change he could find out of his pocket or the woman whose shoes are so old that her feet are exposed in the cold. Maybe at Wawa where the mother’s kids are begging for that snack but she doesn’t have enough money on her. Or the homeless man outside the store who could use a hot cup of coffee.

I promise I will pay it forward, but I will pay it forward to someone who will appreciate it, who needs it, someone who rarely gets to witness the kindness in other people’s hearts, someone who my act of kindness is going to have an impact on. Because that’s truly paying it forward❤️


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  • Jenn Hecker says:

    I agree that you should not be pressured into Playing it forward. Honestly, the cashier should not have asked you if you wanted to do so. She has no idea what your situation is and is just putting you on the spot. I have played it forward many times in different ways, including paying for someone at a drive thru. I do not agree necessary, that just because they are at Starbucks they should not be allowed to have people play it forward. It is like saying that just because you are rich, that you should not have nice things happen to you or that you will not appreciate it. Sometimes they are the ones farthest from the Lord and could use the kindness. Or it could have been someone in line who never splurges on themselves and just needed to do something for themselves, behind us in line we never know, or maybe that more well off person will be appreciative of you generosity and give even more at another time. I don’t see it as a money issue, I see it as a kindness issues. If you have it and want to play it forward go ahead, if not don’t. I know that you do a lot in the community and are most definitely playing it forward in many ways. I respect your opinion and your right to choose when you play it forward. I just tend to always look at things from both sides of the coin. Ps. I would have told the cashier if she thought playing it forward was so important then she could pay for their food- But that is just me! Love reading your blog. Have a Merry Christmas!

    • mfred0518@yahoo.com says:

      Thank you for your thoughtfully written comment, Jennifer! I love hearing different opinions on this. I have thought about this so much. I have definitely thought about it from your angle as well. You’re right. Someone may have been having a terrible day and an act of kindness may be all that they need to lift their spirits, no matter where they are, or it may urge them to give more next time❤️ I think what Starbucks is doing, however, by asking customers if they want to pay it forward to the next in line is making customers act out in guilt rather than true generosity. I’d rather give to someone I know truly needs it. I think it would be more appreciated. Thank you for reading and thank you for your opinion! I hope you have a wonderful Christmas too🎄

  • Jen says:

    I agree, I totally get it. I think it’s true, when you’re forced into doing something, it doesn’t feel so great. Plus sometimes you just scrape up enough money to treat yourself, and now you’re obligated to spend way more money than you intended. It’s like going out to a restaurant with a group of friends and you only ordered water, but then everybody wants to split the bill.. . You’re thinking “I was just here to enjoy everyone’s company”.

    • mfred0518@yahoo.com says:

      Yes, exactly. It was the strangest thing. I’m not sure why they’re doing that! It makes for a very uncomfortable feeling.

  • shelahmoss says:

    I totally agree with you. That’s a fairly ridiculous way to “pay it forward”. I am happy to pull out my money when I see someone struggling to pay the bill at the supermarket. There are so many other ways to pay it forward. We also should not be shamed into giving. It should come from the heart.

  • Tiffany M. says:

    I have never thought about it in this way, and yet I completely agree. I do feel the barista shouldn’t it have asked you if you wanted to pay it forward to the woman behind you, as that puts you on the spot! And if you’re in a tight position financially which we all have found ourselves in then that can be quite uncomfortable to admit that you don’t have enough to do so. I’ve been in this position before, although I was not asked if I’d like to keep it going. Quite frankly I was glad I wasn’t because i had just enough for the latte I was treating myself to that night. But it did make me feel guilty regardless that I hadn’t,even though I wasn’t able to. Thank you for sharing this perspective!

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