Thanks, au lait: 750 pay it forward at Florida Starbucks

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. –A pay-it-forward chain that began in a St. Petersburg, Fla., Starbucks linked more than 750 strangers in a two-day act of coffee kindness.

“It was a pleasant surprise. Everyone likes their coffee paid for. So it was nice,” one customer told Bay News 9.

The chain reportedly began Wednesday morning when a woman in her 60s offered to buy coffee for the car behind her, a store employee told Bay News 9.

“There were some stops and starts to it since it started yesterday (Wednesday) morning at 7 a.m., but I do know it originally started through a customer,” said Starbucks spokeswoman Linda Mills.

Participant Lucy Ramone went through the line twice on Wednesday.

“I was No. 57 this morning,” Ramone said to the drive-through barista, according to Bay News 9. “What number am I now?” Ramone asked the barista.

“No. 297!”

Ramone raised her hands in victory. She had brought her son as a passenger to experience the second round of beverages.

“I think it just puts a smile on people’s face,” she said.

“We are greatly humbled by the generosity of our customers and store partners in the organic pay-it-forward movement happening in St. Petersburg, Fla.,” Mills said. “It’s truly a testament to the goodwill of our customers and our store team.”

The hundreds of acts of kindness had at least one public critic.

St. Petersburg blogger Peter Schorsch asked that readers don’t call him a “grinch” for allegedly ending the pay it forward chain.

“In case any of you are caught up in the Pay It Forward baloney at Starbucks. I just drove through the line, bought a venti mocha frap AND DID NOT PAY IT FORWARD. The chain is broken and this silliness should stop. (P.S. I tipped the baristas $100, just so you can’t call me a grinch.),” Schorsch posted on his Facebook account.

In a post on his website Schorsch wrote “customers were being told that they had had their drink paid for and then asked would they like to pay for the drink of the person next in line. That’s not generosity, that’s guilt.”

Mills said participation was voluntary.

“More than 750 people have participated in it at this one store, which is so amazing to see. Naturally, not everyone chose to participate, which is completely fine,” Mills said.

1 Comment

  • QuixoteJoe

    Good for Schorsch. He is right about this string of sales not being genuine acts of kindness because such acts are impromptu, self-less, occur naturally and they come from the heart — they are not prompted or promoted by someone.

    If truth be known I bet many people “paid it forward” because they felt some sense of obligation to do it so they would fit in, and that they did not want to be the odd man out or feel guilty if the broke the string. It just goes to show what people will do to fit in and be accepted.

    At best this was faux activism. Sadly it shows there is no shortage of people in society who are gullible, shallow, and have lost touch with true meaning of random acts of kindness, as well as the real of amount of resources, love and rich rewards these acts genuinely entail.

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