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How a Cup of Coffee Can Help the World

The Gift of Giving

By Cathryn DennisonPublished 3 years ago 3 min read
Top Story - January 2021

When I was little, I remember the first time I had seen someone buy someone else a cup of coffee. I was around ten years old or so, and I was sitting in the back seat with my brother as our mom was picking up some coffee before dropping us off at daycare. To her surprise, the attendant at the drive-through window informed her that her order was paid by the person in front of her in line. Surprised and pleased, my mom handed over her card and told the attendant to keep the ball rolling and to pay the bill for the person behind her.

Since then, I’ve been to many drive-throughs but cannot think of another single time that has happened since...at least, not until last year.

I was in my friend's car, and we were picking up some coffee and breakfast to help ourselves wake up before we began a long drive to get her and her partner settled into their new house they had just bought.

Almost the exact same thing had happened. We ordered, we pulled up, and when we got to the window, we were told that the person ahead of us had paid for our order. At first, I was pleasantly surprised and instantly recalled the first time that had happened. Then, my friend and I agreed to ‘keep the ball rolling’, as many of my friends would say.

We paid for the person who was behind us, were given our food, and pulled around to the parking lot so we could eat and talk with our partners who were driving the moving truck. We ate and drank our breakfast while going over the game plan of what driving routes we were going to take, how long it would take, and more moving plans.

As we talked and ate, we noticed the line suddenly get longer before it slowly began to get smaller again with there only being a car or two in line at a time now.

About twenty minutes later, we decided to take a bathroom break before we started our trip. After we used the bathroom, my friend and I made a last-minute decision to go up to the counter to order a road cookie as a snack, and she was curious about how many cars had paid for other people’s breakfast.

To our complete astonishment, nearly none of the cars had paid. Not because they didn’t want to, though. The person behind us had paid for the person behind them, but then that person had decided to give the cashier a fifty dollar gift card that they had gotten as an early Christmas present and told them to use that for as many people’s orders until it was empty.

Apparently, the generous driver didn’t really drink coffee and was given the gift card as a prize for some kind of contest they had won at work. Originally, they had planned to only use the gift card for tea or hot chocolate, but they were moved and inspired to get into the season of giving.

The gift card had been used to give nearly every single car that had come through while we were eating in the parking lot free drinks and food. Then, before we walked out, still surprised by the generosity we saw, a customer who was waiting for their order was surprised and bought a twenty dollar gift card and gave it to the drive-through attendant and told them the same thing. “Use it until it runs out.”

When I experience something like this, I try to look for the meaning or moral of what happened. After some time of thinking about it, the moral that I found was that you may not be able to help a dozen people. However, if you try to help one person, that person might be able to help more people.

One act of kindness can be enough to help an endless amount if we continue to give what we get: generosity, compassion, empathy...All the things that require just answering one question: What can I do today for someone else?

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this story, please give this a like and share it. It really helps me grow and keep writing. If you're interested in more of my stories, articles, and more, check out my Twitter for live updates when my most recent works/projects are available.

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    Cathryn DennisonWritten by Cathryn Dennison

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