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I’ve Got You Covered

A stranger has bought my coffee twice in the last two weeks.

 I have been in the drive-thru line at Starbucks and the person in front of me has pre-paid my order.


What are the odds?

First of all, you might be thinking:

I can’t know the odds unless I know how many times you go to Starbucks each week.

Don’t get distracted. This isn’t about math. It’s about generosity. 

 (We can discuss my coffee addiction later.) 

Second, you might be thinking: How much did your order cost?

Again…let’s keep our eye on the ball. People I didn’t know paid for my coffee. Period.

($3.13 for a grande Pike Place with oat milk. Thanks for asking.)

Both times I was caught off-guard. My surprise was immediately followed by a feeling of gratitude.

I said things like, “Omigosh! That’s so nice!” and “So cool!”

Then I locked eyes with the cashier.

There was a question in those sparkly eyeballs peering out at me over the mask: 

What are you going to do?

I passed her my card in both instances and said, “Let me get the person behind me.”

Now here’s the thing. 

I could have just accepted the gift of generosity and that would have been great. 

A true kindness had been done to me. 

But I wanted the person behind me to feel what I felt when I drove up to the drive-thru window and heard the words, 

“The car in front of you got you! Your drink is paid for.”

I felt special and loved and cared for.  

I was being thought of.

Just because.

The second time it happened, I had to blink back tears. 

Because when I told the cashier, “Let me get the person behind me,” she answered, 

“You’re the 4th car in a row to say that.” 

She was as excited as I was. That is when the tears hit.

Because one person on a Wednesday morning started a chain of generosity that kept going. 

What are the odds of me arriving just at the right time to get in on it?

Who even knows?

I was just excited to get to be a part of TEAM GENEROUS that day. 

So cool!

Quote Source

The Science of Generosity

The Science of Generosity white paper, by the Greater Good Science Center at Berkeley University, states that, “A survey of 632 Americans found that spending money on other people was associated with significantly greater happiness, regardless of income, whereas there was no association between spending on oneself and happiness.”

When I buy myself a coffee, I get a hot beverage.

When I buy you a coffee? I get happy. 

A coffee lasts only so long. The happiness seems to linger. I mean, I’m still thinking about the kindness of strangers. 

How being the recipient of goodness brightened my whole day. 

And I’m still thinking about the folks behind me – 

Did they feel the coffee love? 

And did they get a chance to get in the joy of generosity, too?

A Scientific American study found that, compassion can be “caught.” The Kindness Contagion article says, “Tell someone that his neighbors donated to a charity, and that person will boost his own giving, even a year later.”

Here at ILG, we’ve seen that kindness spreads. Like a happy virus.

I’m thinking that somewhere in the next month or 12, you may get the urge to buy someone a coffee. 

(You’re welcome.)

Let’s Get it Started

I have a new coffee plan week.

I am going to Starbucks. Again.

I am buying a coffee for the person behind me.

I hope the joy catches on and the generosity keeps on spreading, don’t you?


Susanna Aughtmon is a gifted writer, wonderful wife, mother, daughter and friend, and a valued member of the I Like Giving team.