About a year ago, things at work were a bit wacky, and I found myself grabbing a donut and a drink at the Tim Hortons drive-through far too frequently. I came up with the solution that every time I go through the drive though, I tell the cashier that I am paying for the person in the car behind me as well. Maybe the donut won’t be worth it anymore, I reasoned.
Well, it never happened. Each time I thought about doing it, I felt kinda funny, and didn’t go through with it. Then, a couple of days ago on a whim, I told the cashier “I’m also paying for the car behind me”. That’s when the cold sweats began. Suddenly I could think of a thousand reasons why this was a very bad idea. The cashier would think I was some rich asshole flaunting his wealth (driving an 8-year-old beat up jeep and all). The person in the car behind me would think I was a stalker and call the cops. Or worse, they’d be mentally unbalanced, and paranoid already, and freak out over this.
I was completely blind-sided by the sense of dread that came from this, and I’m still trying to understand where the hell that comes from. It didn’t help that the car that was behind me kept pulling up beside me at stoplights right afterwards. I tried to look nonchalant, and my rational mind reasoned that they just wanted to know if they knew me, but I was also imagining the police finding my body chopped up and crammed into the glove compartment.
Has anyone else experienced unexpected emotions like this?
Interesting, all different kinds of weird and I can imagine all kinds of freaky/nice/scary/wondrous outcomes, but I’m curious as to how it actually works; do you just hand over a set amount of cash and leave it at that, or do you have some way of knowing what the folks behind you will be buying?
I sometimes pay the toll for the car behind me, but I don’t feel paranoid or anything by it. I had someone pay mine for me once though, and come to think of it, that weirded me out for a little while trying to figure out why they’d done it. Maybe I should stop so I don’t weird other folks out.
When I’ve done it, I just tell the drive-thru person that I’m paying for the person behind me. Usually, they’ve already placed their order, so the guy will just ring it up for me. I’ve gotten lucky and never had the guy tell me “Oh, he ordered 2 dozen donuts and a Box O’ Joe!”
I meant to add that when I first started doing it, it was also a very odd experience. The entire wait between speaker and drive thru, my hands were sweating, my heart was pounding, and I thought about just chickening out. It felt very much like it used to feel when I was trying to work up the nerve to ask someone out.
I never did manage to figure out any actual reasons for the reaction - I didn’t have a specific fear of being thought crazy, stalkerish, etc. But it was really a very… anxious situation, for no good reason whatsoever. If a person in front of me at the counter were to suddenly realize she had forgotten her money, I wouldn’t (and haven’t) hesitate to step forward and say “Here ya go.” But to actually do it without her knowing, and for no reason whatsoever? Freaky.
But, as I’ve done it more often, it gets to be less nervewracking and more enjoyable as I drive off, picturing my “victim” scratching his head.
Once, when I was feeling pretty generous, I had the bartender put the order of everybody who walked up on my right onto my tab. This was at Gruene Hall (TX) and the Fabulous T-Birds were playing. So it was pretty busy. The reactions ranged from bewilderment to “all, right! Let’s party!” And I started getting beers bought for me. There were police at every door, some pretty close to where I was, and there was no way I could drink the beers I had set back. So we had a good ol’ time, and it set me back $250 or so.
About a month ago, I was in the grocery store buying a gallon of milk, and there were a couple of Navy guys in line ahead of me getting beer. They were 15 cents short. I said loudly “Hey, Squid!” and tossed one a quarter.
Didn’t feel funny at all, and to be honest, I did it so I could call them squids and not start a barfight.
That’s the thing - if it’s a direct situation like that I have absolutely no problem. It’s only when I’ve done it for completely no reason that it’s triggered the strong reaction.
I still am not sure how people must react to it - I’ve never been on the receiving end so I guess until I meet someone who has been, I’ll never know. (Actually, to be honest, I opened this thread hoping YOU had been on the receiving end, and were voicing your reaction.) I guess I figure it must involve trying to figure out if they know me, and just general confusion. The main thing, I guess, is that I hope it gives them at least a small smile, or more ambitiously, a slightly better view of people in general.
a) Be surprised.
b) Be very appreciative.
c) Hi Opal! (I can’t believe I thought to do this - I spend too much time here!)
d) Make sure the person knew it.
The other day, I forgot my water bottle for my spin class. No big deal, it’s only a 45 minute spin. But one of the people in the class pulled an extra one from her bag and handed it to me. It was a very nice gesture and I made sure to thank her at the time and compliment her on her effort when the class was over.
If you’re afraid the person you’re being nice to will have stalker-like thoughts … why not just tell the drive through person what you’re doing? Just say “random act of kindness!” or something, with a smile and ask them to tell the person behind. You’ll probably make the clerk happy too!
When I do RAoK, I guess that many times I do it for the ‘wrong’ reasons, like the squid story previously.
On another occasion long ago, I happened to spot my now former neighbor in line 2 cars behind me at McDonald’s. Every evening, she’d take her 2 dogs to get them cheeseburgers, and knowing this, I told the drive-up guy that I wanted to spring for the white car 2 back from me.
It drove my neighbor bug nuts until she figured out who did it, whch was my intent. I do it because I find the shock/WTF? reaction highly entertaining, and no one is hurt by the experience.
I was at an all-night greasy spoon diner once, in Gainesville, Florida. It was just the people at my table, and maybe three or four other people, a mix of locals and college students. I asked the waitress to give everyone a piece of pie, on me. She did, but none of the lucky pie recipients ever approached me to thank me or anything. I would have been overjoyed and grateful to get free pie from a stranger at a diner at 2 AM!
“Pass it on” doesn’t feel truly random. I kinda like the whole “For absolutely no reason, other than just because,” aspect of it. But I suppose I like the mystery part of it too, which might be one reason why I never did the labels.
I wouldn’t do that - I hold doors for people, let them get on the bus before me, etc, sure. But for me, it comes down to the fact that I’d be freaked out, seriously, if someone did something like that for me. If it were at a drive-in or a toll-booth or anything…why? What sort of creepy person wastes their money on people they don’t know? And if it were something like in a bar or restaurant…no, thanks. That implies that you’re hitting on someone, or ridiculously rich, in which case I have an utterly irrational resentment towards you.
Well, hon, I wasn’t hitting on anybody (probably 3/4 of the people I bought drinks for were guys!), and I’m not “ridiculously” rich. I was on acid at the time, and mainly wanted to see the reactions of the people.
I guess if I bought a homeless person a bowl of soup, that would qualify me under the “restaurant clause” and I’d be hitting on them as well.
And of all the touchy-feely people out there, I would have thought you would be OK with a RAoC.
Love you, too.
But this one
I can’t believe!
Do a quick Google for “Philanthropist” and “Altruist”. Granted, buying people beer ain’t philanthropy or altruism, but under your definition, bith are “creepy persons”.