Holiday Kindness: Strangers Buy Each Other Coffee at Starbucks

Someone bought a coffee for someone behind them in line. That started a trend that continued all morning.

OUTSIDE BALTIMORE, MD -- UPDATED (1:50 p.m.)— Something remarkable happened at a local Starbucks Friday morning. 

During the morning rush at the new Starbucks at the Waugh Chapel Towne Centre, someone decided to by a coffee for the person behind them in line. Then that person did the same, and the trend continued all morning, with more than 150 customers taking part. 

"I was #137," Dayna Ostler said on the Crofton Patch Facebook Page. "I bought for the 2 people behind me!"

According to employees and customers on Facebook, the chain involved people using Starbucks' drive-thru window, though the generosity did take place inside also. 

(I stopped by at about 10:50 a.m. and no one was there to buy my coffee. But I paid for the nice lady behind me.)

Did you "pay it backward" this morning at Starbucks?

nancy mcgee December 21, 2012 at 04:38 PM
Carol,i agree we need more kindness and giving around the holidays..makes people in a better mood and happy.It puts a smile on your face ..Have a great holiday!!!!
number9dream December 21, 2012 at 04:47 PM
Please don't patronize me. LOL - Yeah, John Lennon would have seen the utmost sincerity of people sharing good wishes and care for each other by buying overpriced coffee, while overseas innocent women and children were being killed by drones piloted by overweight soldiers sitting in La-Z-Boys and eating Doritos right under their noses at Ft. Meade.
Carol B December 21, 2012 at 04:56 PM
Okay, Number9: do you really think he would have approved of your ill will and cynicism (adding what benefit to the conversation, or to the world?). I don't even like Starbucks coffee--and I agree that it's overpriced--but I think we've had enough sadness and viciousness to last us all for a long, long time, over the last few days--and maybe some of the people in that line will be inspired by the goodness of others to take Tim up on his suggestion of contributing time or money to the charities he listed, to help innocent women and children--and wounded and maimed soldiers who fought for your right to spoil everyone else's positive thoughts with your cantakerousness--right in our area. I hope you will be one of them . . . but something tells me you won't. What have *you* done, to spread the "utmost sincerity of people sharing good wishes and caring for one another"?
Carol B December 21, 2012 at 04:59 PM
Thank you, Nancy and Jill, My colleague came in with a cup of McDonald's coffee for me this morning, and made my day. Random acts of kindness are all we have to counteract the ugliness in this world--I hope they will continue, long after the new year has come.
Jill White Olsson December 21, 2012 at 05:02 PM
Three cheers for Carol! Have a happy Friday everyone, don't let any grinchiness get you down!
number9dream December 21, 2012 at 05:24 PM
Being cynical is a drag. Merry Ramakwanhanumas everyone!
Sandra December 21, 2012 at 05:27 PM
Merry Christmas Jill! Hope everyone has a blessed holiday!
Think December 21, 2012 at 05:37 PM
This is nice, but once it has gotten to the point of a "chain", can it really still be considered random acts of kindness? For one thing, you aren't really giving something up if the person in front of you paid for your drink. So Jane pays for John's drink, then John feels obligated to pay for Steve's behind him. Wouldn't it be more true to the spirit of giving to accept the kindness given to you and choose another, later opportunity to bestow a kindness on someone when the spirit strikes you? Personally, I don't want someone I give a coffee to feeling obligated to immediately buy the next person's drink. I want them to simply enjoy their free coffee hope it improves their day.
number9dream December 21, 2012 at 05:41 PM
Oh no! And I was feeling so penitent!
Jill White Olsson December 21, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Think, I believe that was the point. Spread the kindness. You don't need to buy someone something but all those in the coffee buying chain had someone do something nice for them. Maybe they will continue to be kind throughput their day and do more acts of kindness. My goal is to do at least 26 random Acts of Kindness to remember the Sandy Hook victims, but why stop there. Simple things can brighten someone's day as well. Go welcome the troops home this weekend, help a mother struggling with her kids and groceries load her car, hold the door open for someone, let the person behind you in line go ahead of you. The list goes on and on.
Jill White Olsson December 21, 2012 at 06:58 PM
And number9dream - hope YOU have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!
Jenni Pompi (Editor) December 21, 2012 at 07:13 PM
I love to see people spreading kindness and good cheer this time of year. Happy holidays, folks. I'm off to buy someone a coffee.
JOAN & ROBERT HAMILTON December 21, 2012 at 07:34 PM
JOAN & ROBERT HAMILTON December 21, 2012 at 07:35 PM
We wish everyone in our community of Crofton and surrounding areas a MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR !!!
Penny Riordan December 21, 2012 at 07:55 PM
Happy Holidays Joan & Robert Hamilton! And kudos to Tim Lemke for trying to spread a little holiday cheer in the comments section of Patch! He's one of the hardest working Patch editors around and truly cares about his community.
Kms December 21, 2012 at 07:59 PM
i drove into Starbucks driveway, on the first day off I've had in a long time, with my 10 year old son in the car at the Waugh Chapel Starbucks at about 7:00 this morning. My son and I had been watching Christmas movies all week and as I thought about the tragedy in Connecticut, I felt very blessed to have this day, with my son. We decided to splurge. He got breakfast at McDonalds, I got a gingerbread latte. When I paid my bill, my son questioned me, $5.00 for a cup of coffee, kind of extravagant. No, my child, I would not pay $5.00 for a cup of coffee. But, these gingerbread lattes make me feel good inside....maybe it's the cinnamon...maybe its the whip cream in my low fat latte...don't know...but I had heard about random acts of kindness, was a recipient of a paid toll several years ago...So, as I paid for my 5.00 cup of goodness, I told my son to "watch this." His jaw dropped when I paid for the person behind me. I explained to him that sometimes when you feel good it's nice to pass it along. We can argue about gun control, the economy, doing more for others...but in some way, I thought, maybe if someone would have done something nice...well...a week ago, instead of something tragic...it would be a better holiday for a lot of families. Simplistic, I know. idealistic, perhaps. but Lennon was a dreamer, too. Happy holidays, number9dream. And, thank you to the person who paid my toll 20 years ago. I've never forgotten.
number9dream December 21, 2012 at 08:25 PM
Thanks JWO. You too.
Stephanie Marrone December 21, 2012 at 09:08 PM
I was number 125! So awesome
Dotti Bartlett December 21, 2012 at 10:59 PM
What a wonderful way of "paying it forward"... I hope we can continue the "acts of kindness" going forward.. I am proud to say I am the mother-in-law of #125... Love you Steph !!!!
Carol B December 21, 2012 at 11:03 PM
As Jill pointed out, there is no need to "pay it forward" in kind. Tell someone her Christmas pin is pretty--let that car into the lane, signaling ahead of you, or trying to pull out of the parking lot into traffic--tell somebody's kid to stay close to Mummy or Daddy, when he or she gets restless in a crowded airport terminal or train station--and if you see someone without a smile, give him or her one of yours. It's not that hard, guys--and the extra benefit is that when you do a good deed, YOU reap the benefits (physically and mentally) for a day or two, too. Look at the scientific studies on what acts of kindness do to your brain . . .
swag December 22, 2012 at 12:20 AM
Everybody join in the corporate marketing! http://theshot.coffeeratings.com/2007/12/starbucks-pass-the-chum/
Carol B December 22, 2012 at 12:27 AM
Merry Christmas/Happy Chanukah/Joyful Kwanzaa to you, Swag, too. Your alternative suggestions for spreading holiday kindness are most welcome. What will you be doing to help your fellow man, or lighten his or her load, this season?
number9dream December 22, 2012 at 12:33 AM
@swag No comment. I promised to not be cynical anymore.
Missy December 22, 2012 at 01:54 PM
I prefer to pay it forward at Wawa. The coffee is cheaper and tastes better & since you're sticking your $5 in front of the person in front of you, they don't have a chance to feel obligated for anything.
Denny Menez December 22, 2012 at 09:32 PM
OK Missy..we have no WaWa down here in Tx. Anyway hope u have a blessed holiday filled with cheer.
Michael Keen December 22, 2012 at 11:24 PM
Tim, Lets not make this just about the holidays. In light of all the evil going on lately perhaps a kind act from a stanger would change the mind of someone about to go postal. Kindness is a gift many have been blessed with but exercise to little, myself included. It always hurt the kind heart when a caring act is unrecognised and sometime rebuffed but that should not be a deterrant if you truly care about your fellow human beings. C'mon people, whether paying it forward or backward lets show the hurt and wanting people who need some kindness this world is not really a cruel place to live in. Reach out and touch someone! It obviously works according to the Starbucks scenario.
Cathie DiPinto December 23, 2012 at 12:10 AM
It has been a tradition in our family to pay for the car behind us on the Bay Bridge while on our way to Ocean City, MD. We have a rule, we can never look to see the recipient's reaction. This would mean we reap the benefits. A person did catch up with us once, waving and screaming at us with excitement. He said: "How cool, I'm going to do this from now on too." It made for a happy memory, for all of us!
Carol B December 23, 2012 at 12:23 AM
Now that's the spirit, Cathie! You helped--performed an act of kindness--as I did--because you wanted to. It's not about reward--though my point was that from time to time, you will encounter people who don't have the decency to appreciate it. That shouldn't stop you, though. Merry Christmas!
Lynne December 25, 2012 at 05:16 AM
Merry Christmas Carol B. May The Lord bless you and your family today and the entire year!!!
Bill Dee December 26, 2012 at 05:28 PM
Merry Christmas, Lynne. I hope you are your family had a wonderful holiday.


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