The car ahead of me just paid for my Starbucks order

Mind blown. I had no idea this was a thing!

Anyone else had this happen to them? Have you done it for someone else?

How does that work for a variable priced item? Does the forward car pay for a large with all the toppings & the clerk just keep the extra if you get a plain small? Do they apply the excess to car #3? Conversely, what happens if they paid for a plain small & you get two large w/ all the toppings because there’s someone in the passenger seat who wants one, do they only charge you the difference or does the company end up eating the difference?

I assume Slacker had already placed his order and the car in front was able to pay his exact total. Otherwise, when this sort of pay it forward thing happens, usually the benefactor gives the cashier a 50 or whatever to pay orders out of until it’s gone and the last person gets some amount off but covers the rest themself.

By the time the person in front is paying for his order, the person behind him has already placed an order so the clerk/employee knows what the total is.

I had that happen to me one morning at the drive through stand I stop at every day. I gave the woman $5 to cover whoever came after me.

I’m not sure what we gain by it, but it’s a break in the routine.

I had it happen to me once, my coffee was paid for. I didn’t love it. I guess I am just grumpy.

Happens often enough up here in Ottawa at the Tim Horton’s.

A few years ago I met my gf after work for some reason. We went through a drive-through (not Starbucks), me in my vehicle and she behind me in hers. I told the cashier I wanted to pay for the person behind me, she told me the amount, and I paid.

Later at home, I asked if she was surprised. After some puzzled back-and-forth it turned out that she was charged for her order. It wasn’t worth a trip back there, and the place closed down a few months later anyway.

Hopefully, it’s not because you accidentally got in front of the person who was really supposed to be behind him. LOL

Yes, I’ve had it happen. I took it as an unexpected kindness in a grumpy world. Sometimes I pay the toll for the person behind me. Same idea.

Probably has happened to me at least once a year going back 5 years or so.
Happened twice already this year.

My wife, a Starbucks junkie, just told me I was supposed to keep it going by paying for the next person. Oops. :smack:

Buuut…if you are supposed to keep it going, the only person who ultimately benefits is the one who breaks the chain. That seems logically/philosophically perverse.

This has been promoted by christian radio stations for years as a “drive through difference” or something.


Yes. And it’s fun to read about.
It’s just another little thing to remind us all that we’re human beings and that being kind to one another should be our default position.

Random acts of kindness are great. A few years back my mother-in-law had a major birthday party(relatives came from around the country). After the party I gathered up all the helium balloons that weren’t labeled, which turned out to be about five dozen, and stuck them in the back of my van. On the way home driving by the park I saw small birthday party being thrown for a couple of kids, so I stopped nearby and grabbed all the balloons and brought them to their picnic table and said, “I was told to bring these to you”, handed them over and walked back to the van and drove off.
I just love doing things like this. :smiley:

Someone did that for me years ago, and it really made my day. Now, if I’m in a bad mood and going through a fast-food line, I sometimes pay for the car behind me. I find it really cheers me up.


The other people who benefit are those who placed expensive orders, but are being followed by people who placed cheap orders. If I order a latte with 101 shots of espresso for myself and each of my six minivan passengers, and the guy in front of me pays our $586.25 bill - and the guy behind me just orders a small cup of coffee for a few bucks, which I pay for - then my passengers and I are having a pretty good day.

Uncertainty. Although not everyone thinks that’s a gain. If I order a cup of coffee, and the guy in front of me pays for it - and the bill for the minivan behind me is $586.25 - you can be pretty sure I’ll break the chain.

Seems like an unnecessary complication to me and one that apparently carries some form of obligation that you neither asked for nor wanted.

Pay for your own stuff, If you want to do a good deed don’t have a Starbucks and give to charity instead. Any person in a random Starbucks queue is unlikely to be quite as needy as starving kids in Africa.