I spent the 20-minute drive to work in a HORRIBLE mood. I managed to get there early, so I decided “Screw it! I’m getting Starbucks!” and drove an extra two miles past work to get some breakfast and caffeine.
The way the Starbucks near my work is set up, there are two entrances. So often times there are two perpendicular lines of cars that have to merge, take turns, etc., to actually get into the drive-thru lane. And a lot of times people are dicks about it. (Insert Wil Wheaton’s rule here.)
I had 2 to 3 cars behind me and 1 car perpendicular to me, waiting to pull into the drive-thru. I decided to let the woman in the perpendicular car go ahead of me, and so waved her through. The minivan behind me did that “What are you doing? Did you forget you’re in line??” scootch toward me but I was still so pissy I didn’t care.
I’M GOING TO BE NICE TO SOMEONE. LEAVE ME ALONE.
The woman that I let go ahead of me took longer than usual and was chatty with the drive-thru person, which irritated me a little because by then I was running short on time. I finally got up to the window, went to hand the drive-thru chick my card and she said “Actually, the woman ahead of you paid for your order.”
I blinked and said, “Really??”
She said “Yeah, she said you let her go ahead of you in line so I think that’s why.”
My bad mood instantly melted. It actually made me a little teary that someone would be thoughtful enough, with no prospect of thanks or reward, to pay for a stranger’s order. (I may be a little emotional today.) I know it happens, but it’s never happened to me before and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Sometimes, all it takes is a random smile or an unexpected small act of kindness to turn someone’s entire day around. You never know what other people may be dealing with and what kind of impact your actions may have on them.
So go out and pay it forward. Or backward, if you’re buying someone’s coffee. And Unidentified Woman, if you happen to come across this post, thank you.