A few weeks ago, while I was in the middle of my “Becoming, Being, and Leaving Greek” series, I had an amazing thing happen to me that I have enjoyed telling others because it has really strengthened my belief that maybe there are some good people left in the world.
As I have previously mentioned, money for me is tight almost all the time. I don’t make much at my job that I have and after benefits and taxes, I take home less than $1800 a month. I’ve become diligent in the last few months, however, cutting down my spending to, well…non-existent.
But there’s one exception: Starbucks.
I have to have Starbucks every day. It is a terrible addiction that I wish I hadn’t ever developed, but working an 8am-5pm job Monday-Friday slowly drains my energy. So, I’ve limited my spending to the necessities: rent, gas, car payment, bills, and coffee. I reached the “Starbucks Gold” level in less than a month after activating a gift card I received for my birthday. I am at the same Starbucks every day, where the employees know me by first and last name and my drink right down to my specifications to the point to where it is ready before I even reach the register (if there’s a line). A few Saturdays ago, however, I went to a different Starbucks a few miles from my house. I entered the drive-through line, after an indecisive, half-in-half-out Land Rover decided to leave the line. I ordered a drink for myself, my boyfriend, and a small chocolate donut. The total was $7.67 and I pulled forward, ready to pay with my reloaded Starbucks card. I noticed the car in front of me was a silver Accord with some old decals from UCF on the back window. I had my excited-in-all-drive-through-lines Jack Russell in the car with me who was bouncing around the passenger seat and dashboard eager to receive his milk bone treat when we reached the window.
I pulled up to the window after the Accord, and my drinks were handed to me right away. I started to hand the barista my card when she said, “She just paid for you.”
My mouth was gaping as I grabbed the drink. “Wh-what? What?”
“She just paid for your order,” the barista said, smiling.
“The whole thing? Are you serious?” I said.
“Yes, the whole thing. Does he want a treat?” the barista asked.
“Ye-yes please! Get out of town! I can’t believe she paid for my whole order!” I took the treat from her and gave it to my dog who swallowed it nearly whole.
“It happens a lot here. People doing random acts of kindness I guess,” she said.
“Are you serious? I can’t believe it,” I said.
“Yes, if I see her again, I’ll let her know what a smile she brought to your face,” the barista said as I started to drive away.
The whole ride home, I was hoping to see the silver Accord going in the same direction as me but I never did. I got back to my apartment to find my boyfriend waiting for me. When I told him what had just happened, his first response was, “You’re kidding.”
I shared the great news on Twitter with my followers. One response was, “On purpose or an accident?” It was most certainly on purpose and I cannot express how impressed I was by that lady to pay for my entire almost eight dollar order.
Since I started supporting myself fully a little over a year ago, I’ve learned more than I could explain about money. I still have a lot to learn about it though, unfortunately. But, more recently, I’ve learned the value of one dollar. I’ve learned, through paying all of my bills every month and literally leaving my checking account down to cents, just how much every cent and every dollar is worth. And, yes, I realize that $7.67 is a lot to spend on coffee for two people, but I like it to be my contribution sometimes!
I don’t want to say that this lady “picked the right person to pay for,” because that sounds selfish, but I believe that she did pick someone who was more than appreciative of what she did for me. I feel like a lot of people would have said, “Oh thanks,” and not thought about it much after that because it’s not a big deal to them. And I’ll admit, too, that though I was raised to be appreciative of anything anyone does for me (even driving me places or holding doors open), I am even more grateful since I’ve started supporting myself fully.
I’ve been challenged by pastors in church a few times to pay for someone else’s order at McDonald’s or Starbucks, but I haven’t actually done it before. This may sound selfish (again), but sometimes I think to myself, “Why would I want to do that for someone when people treat other people the way they do?” I guess you can say that over the years I’ve developed a mentality that most people are not good at heart. Most people wouldn’t turn in a wallet they found on the street bursting with cash. Most people wouldn’t pick up a dead animal in the road or even break for one. At least, not anymore.
But this lady proved me wrong. It turns out, there are some good people left in the world.