THERE'S ALWAYS A SILVER LINING SOMEWHERE: how paying it forward works even when your coffee spills & your car crashes

THERE'S ALWAYS A SILVER LINING SOMEWHERE: how paying it forward works even when your coffee spills & your car crashes


So something rather wonderful happened the other day. I had spent the morning running hither and yon to meetings and the grocery store and the pharmacy and the dry cleaners and the post office – all the tasks we regular folks with no budget for personal assistants must tackle after being out of town for two weeks – when I found myself yawning.

            Yet, as one yawn died and another, larger, MGM lion of a yawn replaced it, I happened to glance to the right…

            And, I swear, the skies glittered and the clouds parted and the sun smiled. I may even have heard angels singing.

            I only know that, suddenly, my heart was as light and bright as the sun streaming in through my windshield because, lo and behold, abracadabra, right when I needed it, there it was. Starbucks!

            Better yet, my sweet little considerate C250 had already figured out that a tall, double, extra hot, skinny Caramel Macchiato was just the jolt my soul and caffeine deprived nervous system craved. We pulled into a parking spot and, as I clambered out, I patted the car on its hood, much as you’d pat a horse on its nose. Good boy.

            Inside, my luck held. The line was not too long and, better yet, it was moving. I placed my order…

            The barrista motioned toward the place where you pick up drinks.

            “I need to pay,” I kindly reminded her.

            “No, you’re done,” the barrista replied.

            I shook my head. “No, I need to pay.”

            “No. You don’t.”

            My mama raised me to be polite, but this gal’s denseness was becoming nettlesome.

            “I truly don’t mean to argue with you,” I assured her, “but I KNOW I haven’t paid you yet.” Then, just to make sure she got what I was getting at, I reached into my purse and waved my unopened wallet in front of her register.

            The barrista laughed then pointed toward a man in a white t-shirt a few yards away. He couldn’t have been more than 25, max. “No, HE paid. He paid for everyone.”

            I joined the young man at the drink-pick up place. “You bought my drink?” I asked him. Sans caffeine, I can be slow.

            The young man smiled. “Yeah.”

            “Well, thank you,” I stuttered. “I don’t know what to say.”

            My benefactor shrugged. “It’s no big deal.”

            “Are you kidding?” I said. “It’s a very big deal. This is extraordinarily generous of you.”

            “Yes, thank you,” the woman behind me chimed in. “Thank you so much.”

            Sort of sheepishly the young man waved our accolades aside.

            “I’ll pay this forward, I want you to know that,” I told him.

            It turned out that this was exactly what the young man was doing. Once upon a time, he had stood in my shoes at a Starbucks... “I just want to keep it going,” he concluded.

            “Well, it will,” I replied. “I won’t break the chain, I promise.”


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