At the Starbucks drive-through.
Q You asked for pay-it-forward stories. This has nothing to do with cars, but it’s now in its fifth generation.
When my great-grandfather immigrated to the U.S., he knew nobody and spoke no English. He was helped by an immigrant aid society in New York City. They told him to pay it forward, and have his descendants help the next wave of immigrants.
More than 100 years later, I’m continuing that tradition by helping the current generation with their immigration problems, and I coordinate a program at our local high school to provide computer repair and donations for immigrant families who need them.
A And I bet every day you think of your immigrant great-grandpa and the wonderful tradition he started. And now on to other stories about paying it forward.
Q On the way driving back from Southern California, I went through the drive-through lane at a Starbucks near the Grapevine. When I drove up to the window to get my order, the employee said the family in the car in front of me had asked how much my order was and paid it, telling the employee to let me know they were paying it forward.
The car in front drove away, and I never got to say thank you or even see who they were. It was a strange feeling to experience this, and I remember being the most courteous driver I could the remaining 300 miles or so back home.
A All for a $6 gift.
Q Back in my toll-road-traveling days in Chicago, I used to get a kick out of paying the small toll for the car behind me. I was just reflecting on how I miss that kind of thing when I saw your recent column.
I have an annual planning session with a colleague and each year I bring her a Frappuccino as a thank-you gesture. This year, the line at Starbucks on the day of our meeting was so long that I almost bailed, but wanting to honor our tradition I stuck it out.
The woman ahead of me noticed my school T-shirt (I work at a local public elementary) and struck up a conversation. Before I realized what had happened, she had not only paid for my order, but she left me with words of encouragement for our whole staff, which I passed on and were much appreciated by all the teachers.
I was seeking a more anonymous way to pay it forward, so on my next trip through the drive-through Caffino on El Camino Real in Mountain View, I gave the very friendly staff enough money to cover a drink for the driver in the car behind me, plus of course a little something for their tip jar. It was a bit pricier than the late-1980s road tolls, but every bit as fun!
I look forward to doing this again from time to time. Who couldn’t use a smile these days?
A I so agree. There could be more pay-it-forward stories coming.