12.07.2007

Petty Beef


The cup of coffee I bought at Starbucks today has been bothering me all afternoon. I mean the cup itself. Where they usually print 'The Way I See It' was a holiday pass-the-cheer story that goes like this:

"At a Starbucks drive-thru in Riverside California, a customer spontaneously decided to pay for the drink of the person behind him. That delighted person was then inspired to pay for the drink of the person behind her, who then did likewise. What then transpired was an amazing chain reaction of cheer passing that lasted for seven cars."

What the heck!

The proper response when someone performs a spontaneous act of kindness is to thank them (even if it's just in your heart), enjoy the gift, and let them be the hero. Then--LATER--a day, a week--you can pay it forward and be a hero yourself.

I'm telling you, if I'd been the original giver in this case, I'd have been-like "What was the point?!"

12 comments:

ads. said...

Maybe. It might have taken away from the original gift, OR it might have been a greater gift- inspiring others to think of someone else for a moment (imitation can really BE a form of flattery). I vote for the latter...the gift is in the giving.

Nicholas said...

pssst...the spontaneous starbucks character is just a fabrication of a smart (or not so smart) copywriter.

elsabelle said...

How about an original Starbucks promotional story? As they are shamelessly stating that buying coffee, not just for yourself but for everyone else, makes the world a better place. Touching stuff.

I know, Santa's putting coal in my stocking as we speak.

ButtonHole said...

Wait a second. So car 1 pays for his and car 2's order. Car 2 gets to the window and says I wanna pay for car 3, then, since I feel so darn fuzzy over car 1's generosity? Right here, immediately, I see a problem, being a veteran of the drive-thru (as opposed to the drive-by) as I am. Most window workers are going to be confused by this first transaction already, and I can just see them trying to figure out, "okay, now YOURS has been paid, but you want to pay for.....do WHAT??" This will cause unnecessary delays, I say, and by the time car 4 gets to the window, its driver is so annoyed, maybe late for work, just wants his coffee.....
Okay, essentially, I'm just joking. But as someone who adamantly feels that giving should be TOTALLY anonymous to avoid self-aggrandizement and "i'm such a good person" smugness, I say put your money where it's needed more. And paying for someone's overpriced latte grande is not sensible charity.
Really, T, I don't find this a petty beef at all (honest, I just started out with a couple of sentences on this topic, but the more I think about it...). I think it's a perfect example of how folks love to pat themselves on the back...."Giving Lite," so to speak. I guess my problem is whether it REALLY makes someone think of others, or is it merely an empty act of "caring"...a thin shadow of the type of caring we actually need to practice but we're content to let it pass as having done something "good"?

Kevin M. Scarbrough said...

I disagree Tania, I don't see the merit in waiting to pass along the good to others. Pass it along now, and use the momentum to do something good in the future as well.

biggy said...

yeah, i think you're being a little harsh. Jeez, no good deed goes unpunished.

ads. said...

I think this is being WAY too overthought...When is doing anything good a bad thing? It doesn't matter if it's giving thousands of dollars to an organized charity, or merely picking up a fallen item for someone...it is still something to be encouraged. If you start qualifying, quantifying, or questioning who's deserving of a good deed; then it probably won't happen much. And yes, it WILL make you feel good- it should...you will do it more often. And Kevin is right. It could build momentum. Do what you can, when you can....it's never wrong.

Kevin M. Scarbrough said...

Thinking about it, I do agree with you Tania. The reason I make an exception to this scenario is because the original gift giver has no clue about the consequences of his/her gift. There is no time lapse in this scenario.

Tania Rochelle said...

Here is my point, and disagree if you want:

When someone gives you something, the best way to complete that exchange is to accept it with gratitude and enjoy the gift. It takes a kind of generosity of spirit to accept something fully, a sort of humility. I say give that small moment to the giver.

Rachel said...

clearly, the seventh car agreed with tania.

mamoo said...

as usual, am i missing something?the way i see it, the only person who really "gave" was car #1. he (or she) had to pay for his coffee and one behind him. the 2nd car only paid for the one behind him because car #1 paid for his and the 3rd car only had to pay for the one behind him and so on and so on and so on. then all car #7 had to do was drive off with free coffee. so, it's not like cars 2 through 7 were being generous. nothing came out of their pocket.

Anonymous said...

The original giver WAS paid back, although there was never a remote expectation that she would be, or that the receiver would choose to pay it forward. Giver number one bought a Chai this morning in Colorado and read a story on a cup and learned -- more than a year later ---maybe more like two years later --- that her random act of kindness on a business trip in Southern California started a chain reaction. It would have been a great fabrication of a copywriter... but this one wasn't. And it was such an amazing gift to my day to read the cup that I drove to the nearest Starbucks and did it again. Sometimes I plug expired parking meters for my own entertainment. That day I bought coffees and pumpkin bread and drove off in my rental car. It's not that giver #1 thought that the car behind her needed someone to pay for their over-priced lattes... it was a random act of kindness. And it was fun.

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