Birmingham area coffee shop customers perform random acts of kindness, pick up others' tabs Posted by Rahkia Nance--Birmingham News April 13, 2009 6:15 AM Random acts of kindness are popping up at Birmingham area coffee shops, as customers are anonymously picking up others' tabs. Sharon Dierking was at a Starbucks on U.S. 280, placing an order for a mocha frappucino. When she pulled up to the window, the barista told her the driver in the car ahead of her had paid for her order. "I was completely dumbfounded," Dierking said, "but I was thrilled." Dierking wanted to return the kindness to another, but her car was last in line. A few days later, she was able to pay it forward at a Starbucks in Inverness. "It makes you feel good and it brightens your day," she said. Random acts of kindness are popping up at Birmingham area coffee shops, as customers are anonymously picking up ... Read Full Story >>
Every day I go into the same coffee shop on the way to work. It's part of a large chain here in the UK. I am new to the anonymous act of kindness concept. I came across it recently, and a few weeks ago I worked up the courage to ask the Barista if I could pay for a coffee for someone later that day. He looked at me kind of strangely and said "okay" and then put the money in the till. I walked out feeling doubtful that this would ever happen (and privately thinking he might just add the money to his tips). This chain stamps a card every time you buy a coffee and when you get 9 stamps, the 10th coffee is free. I had just completed my card today and was due a free coffee next time, so I cheered up as I headed out of the ... Read Full Story >>
On Labor Day last year my husband went out for a meal at a restaurant. After we had finished, I asked him if he'd ever given a waiter/waitress a 100% tip. He gave me this funny look (probably because he was thinking about how much our dinner added up to be!) and said he hadn't. I said that since it was Labor Day and our waitress was working this holiday, it would be fun to give her a 100% tip and see what her reaction would be. He told me I was crazy but agreed anyway! Our dinner bill came to $32.18 so that's the exact tip we left, $32.18. We tried to hand her our dinner bill folder but she kept telling us to leave it on the table and she would get to it. So we left and we never got to see her reaction. I wondered off and on, and still do to this day, what ... Read Full Story >>
About a year ago, my husband had just come back from a 7 month tour in Iraq. My daughter and I had gone up to see him get off the bus at 6am, and he didn't get there until about 7-7:30am. After a couple hours of work he had to do, we were ready to go home. On the way home, my husband suggested that we go to International House of Pancakes (IHoP) to grab something to eat. We didn't have that much money left, as it was right before payday, but I decided it would be worth it anyway, since he hadn't gotten to eat anything like that for months. We went in and sat down in a crowded resturant. He was still wearing his ACU's (his army clothes) and I was clinging to him and still crying a little bit, just so happy to have him home. We sat ... Read Full Story >>
Last week, I went to work very early as I had a lot to do, and early mornings, before others get to work are the times I can be most productive. I arrived at the Embarcadero station in San Francisco from the East Bay around 5:30am and as I surfaced from underground, I checked my BlackBerry and noticed the next SF Muni bus was in 10 minutes. Instead of waiting around for 10 minutes in the cold, I felt inspired to go buy this (possibly homeless?) man in a wheelchair something from the Starbucks. I had seen him before sitting outside in his wheelchair trying to stay warm, and quietly and politely shaking his cup gently (I've never heard him asking for change though) hoping someone will contribute some more coins. I went up to him and asked "Brother, can I bring you some hot coffee from Starbucks?" He replied with "Hot Chocolate," immediately, ... Read Full Story >>
I want to say thanks to all of you for your special notes and ideas, after I sent my request for 'gifting acts of kindness ideas' for my nephew's birthday last month. I was excited to hear from some of you with suggestions. Pancho suggested that I give him my attention -- as the greatest gift one human being can give another -- yes! Nipun helped out by sharing his own story, and got me thinking further about how I could do a kindness tag, Idaho style. I gave that kid some super-duper hugs, not to mention every bit of attention I could muster, and a good dose of kindness stories, to boot. There is a long story with great sidenotes that goes with the birthday adventure story, but the short story is as follows: I gave my nephew twenty bucks for his birthday, with the condition that he use it to do something kind for someone ... Read Full Story >>
Many of the stories that I read on HelpOthers are all about helping other people, doing acts of kindness for someone else. Often times it's easy to forget that no matter who you are, you're not always the giver - sometimes it's we who receive that random act of kindness. When it happens, it almost feels odd to some extent that you are on the other end - receiving vs. giving. In some way, it can be quite a humbling experience. And so my story begins .... My daughter and I had gone into Subway one evening to get sandwiches for the two of us, plus one for my wife. Prior to going to Subway, I had checked my bank account to make sure that I had money on my debit card. I had moved what I thought to be several hundred dollars to my card. Come to find out in ... Read Full Story >>
Four of us walk into a coffee shop -- Jessica, Russell, Michelin and I. We're all super committed to birthing a gift-economy world view. Like all activities rooted in generosity, our conversation also takes on an escalating charge as we speak about the nature of things -- "Goodness just begets more goodness. Lots of people don't trust that, because sometimes it takes time, but sooner or later, goodness does beget more goodness." Right then, the waitress comes over and offers us a bran-muffin as a gift. Completely stunned, we look at her silently begging for an explanation. With a smile that says everything, she adds, "You know, we're closing and the muffin won't survive the night, so instead of wasting it, I thought I'd give it away." The waitress disappeared quickly, but we were bubbling with compassion that was very pregnant for expression. We find the janitor, thank him for his ... Read Full Story >>
I recently had the chance to have a meal with some close friends who don't live in my city. The choice of restaurant was a pretty fancy one known for triple digit bills. We had a wonderful time together at the restaurant and approaching the end of the meal, I excused myself. I silently headed towards the waiter and asked him to charge the meal to my credit card, but to also not tell anyone that I did it. I signed for the meal and and quickly went back to my seat, no one the wiser for my trip. When it came time for the check, the waiter came by and told me and my fellow diners that the meal had already been paid for by an unknown person! They couldn't believe it and demanded to know who did it, but the waiter assured them he didn't know :) The response on ... Read Full Story >>
I went into a local cafe for breakfast one quiet morning with a friend of mine. I grabbed a smile card as I left my car, not knowing quite what I was going to do with it. During the meal, I noticed a woman sat by herself, absorbed in a book, at the table next to us. I walked over to the waitress, asked how much the woman's check was, and handed her the money and a smile card with the instructions to give the woman the card, with the paid check, but to make sure not to tell her who had done this. When the woman left, the waitress came to the table and told me that the woman was shocked and very happy, said she really needed someone to do this for her, and couldn't wait to pass it on. But what really touched me was that the waitress said the owner of the cafe had ... Read Full Story >>
I run a hotel in London. During the problems with the now infamous ash cloud, I spent the morning listening to people calling in to a radio show on London's LBC radio station to tell their stories of woe....some had missed flights for holidays, some couldn't get home following the volcanic eruption. The story that struck me the most was a call from a man named Peter who had just gotten married the previous weekend to Maz. They were due to leave for their honeymoon to the Dominican Republic but could not due to the ash cloud. When James O'Brien, the radio presenter, asked if he was upset, Peter said: "Not at all, I've married the loveliest girl in the world whom I adore so no I'm not unhappy at all". Both, the presenter and I were blown away by the beautiful answer. A little later, after numerous cancellations due to people not being ... Read Full Story >>
Last night my husband and I were on the way to a show. We were both hungry and wanted to grab a quick bite on our way there, so we swung through a Jack-N-the Box drive-thru and placed our order. When we got up to the window the lady smiled at me (which is sometimes rare) and asked how I was doing while she was collected our money for the food. I replied, "Fine, and how are you?" She went to get our order ready and I asked my husband to pass me my "Drive-thru Smil bag". He handed it to me and watched in amazement as I gathered together a "You make a difference" paper, a Smile Card, a smiley stamper and a smile button. She came back to the window almost before I finished putting it all together. Without looking too closely she passed the bag and said, "Thank you. Have a good ... Read Full Story >>
Many years ago, I was a struggling single mom starting up a new business. It was the holiday season, and my boyfriend and I had decided that we would splurge for just one evening, and go out to dinner. We went to the Red Lobster and it got me thinking about my college waitressing days and how much I enjoyed working during that time: people shopping, feeling joyful, and tipping big. I was in the holiday spirit and wanted to give the waitress a big tip, though I knew it wasn't going to be a big Christmas for us that year. When we had picked what we wanted, I did a quick calculation in my head to make sure that I had enough money before we placed the order. At the end of the meal, when we asked for the check, the waitress replied "It's already taken care of." I didn't understand? She ... Read Full Story >>
It's 5:15am at the local Starbucks. I'm standing in line and the person ahead of me in line is putting together what seems to be a large order. "Can I have some bagels, donuts, oh and some brownies too, along with this coffee order." My curiosity is peaked, and she chimes to the counter person, "Thank you, the order is for the nurses at Sloan-Kettering Cancer society because they've been doing a great job taking care of my Dad." I tend to believe that people share things in order to be self expressed, and to be heard, to have their expression recognized. Standing in line, fiddling with my book bag, the possibility of her wanting to be heard flashed by. I, stopped, and asked her how her father was doing. "He's in a coma, he fell into a coma yesterday and my sister and I have been taking shifts being there with ... Read Full Story >>
As I stood in a busy lunch line at Arby's I was becoming increasingly worried I would be late getting back to the office. A grandmother and her grandson were keeping the only available cashier busy. The woman had difficulty with all the choices and, after finally placing the order, became very flustered trying to find her cash or her credit card. While this was going on, the cashier had the most gentle and benevolent expression on his face, never once making the woman feel under pressure. His mood transformed my own. I caught his eye and quietly indicated I would pay for the order. He understood and took care of it without embarrassing the woman. Then when I eventually placed my order he paid for my lunch! As I stood aside waiting for my order two other customers spoke to me about what had happened and said they would also "pay it forward" as a ... Read Full Story >>
Having experienced the joys of giving small gifts to others through regular random acts of kindness, I have increasingly questioned whether I was truly being generous or whether I was seeking ego-gratification or some sort of karmic credit to justify living an otherwise ordinary life. To test this concept, I asked myself if I would be just as generous if the acts were truly anonymous, and I would receive no credit. In seeking out those opportunities, an even more interesting challenge arose - providing random strangers with the opportunity to gift acts of kindness. The first experience was as a restaurant in Times Square with a pre-fixe lunch that included dessert. I did not want any dessert, so I asked the waiter to find another customer and tell the customer that he was offering a free dessert as a random act of kindness. I specifically made sure he did not mention me ... Read Full Story >>
I was in the line at Dunkin Donuts. The couple in front of me had ordered their food and stepped to the side. I proceeded to order mine. Quick and simple. Then I noticed a young man. I could tell was not having the best of luck and it showed on his face. He walked in carrying his belongings in a torn plastic bag. The couple ahead of me turned, looked, then turned away. The lady grabbed her purse tighter and her husband quickly stood in front of her. I moved over so he could order. He looked at the board, checked his pockets and didn't seem to have enough for anything. So, he turned around and walked out. I picked up my coffee and followed him out. He had gone maybe five paces when I shouted, "Hey! Do you want a donut?" A little embarrassed, he said, "I dont have any money." I told ... Read Full Story >>
My husband, my four-month old daughter and I set out on a five day driving journey from California to Washington. We had to stop frequently because oure little one needed to stretch from the car seat. One of our stops, once we crossed the Oregon border, was at a Black Bear Diner. Walking towards the front door we noticed a gentleman standing to one side. He was seriously dishelved, without shoes and wearing tattered clothing. We passed right by him and opened the restaurant door. Then something told me to go back. Holding my four-month old daughter I turned around and said to the gentleman, "Sir. Are you hungry?" He said, "Yes." I then asked, "May we buy you a bite to eat?" He responded with, "Sure, I can order something to go." My husband opened the door and the gentleman went straight to the counter. I told him to order whatever he wanted. The manager ... Read Full Story >>
As I was standing in line for my secret weekend indulgence, a medium dairy queen cone. I watched the two teens behind the counter working frantically to get through the long line of hungry customers. Usually there are one or two customers but today, to my surprise, there were more than ten. So many, in fact, that I wondered if it was worth the wait. There was a tip jar in the middle of the counter and though most orders were for three or more concoctions no one was leaving a tip. The order before mine was a big one! Eight "Blizzards," all sizes, flavors, etc, to go. The gal worked efficiently, cheerfully filling the orders and delivering them with a smile and a "Have a nice day!" Then came my tiny order. "I would like a medium cone." The gal smiled and said, "Is that all?" "Yep", was my reply. I had handed her a twenty ... Read Full Story >>
For several weeks, I had been meaning to get my wife flowers. Everyday I would leave for the office in the morning reminding myself to get flowers on the way home, but would always forget. Finally one day, I decided to repeat the word, “flowers” (as though it were a mantra) as I drove home to make sure I remembered. It turned out that that day the flowers were on sale, two bouquets for the price of one. While I was at the store, I came across two neatly folded $20 dollar bills with no one around. I picked up the bills feeling like this was a universal sign and went home with my flowers knowing that the money had to be used for spreading kindness. After I gave my wife the flowers, I told her I had another surprise and showed her the money. My wife definitely felt like this was a calling since ... Read Full Story >>
Peapod and I just returned from a trip across the pond to see her parents and some of her friends back home in America. We had a great time, being somewhat spoiled by her folks :-) While we were away we kept our eyes open for opportunities and managed to leave a little kindness behind us on the way. Coffee and coffee houses seem even bigger over the water than they do in the UK, so one idea we had was to buy some $10 coffee cards and give them out to people as we wandered around the town. We quickly earmarked two particular people to give cards to. Earlier that afternoon we had been to a jeans store to exchange some jeans and the girl there really knew her stuff! Before we knew it Peapod had a replacement pair and an extra pair of jeans, while I was also buying a pair. The ... Read Full Story >>
I came across HelpOthers few days ago and I can`t stop reading the stories. I want to thank you all for sharing joy around the world and writing about it. Ever since I was a kid I've believed that a smile is a cure and that kindness spreads around like a (wonderful) virus. I`m glad to see how many stories of miraculous acts you all have written. I shared some of my favorite to my mom an hour ago. She was a bit down and I wanted to put a smile on her beautiful face and remind her that people can surprise you in a very pleasant way. After hearing some of the stories from HelpOthers she told me one herself that happened 30 years ago. She was just a teenager on a vacation on the Adriatic coast with her two best friends (they are still her best friends). They were having coffee ... Read Full Story >>
One very cold and rainy night my husband and I were in fast food restaurant. Just as we were about to begin our meal, a man walked in. He was completely soaked from the rain and went straight into the men's room. I watched him go by, then I said to my husband, "That man has had nothing to eat in a long time." When the guy came out of the men's room he just found a seat, not going anywhere near the food counter. I guessed he didn't have any money for food and simply wanted to dry off for a while. I just couldn't eat my food knowing that someone else was sitting hungry only a few tables away. So, I handed a $20.00 bill fom my food shopping money to my husband. "Please get him dinner," I said. "We can do with less this week." My husband approached the man and ... Read Full Story >>
No matter how much money I don’t have, I always try to think positive. Sometimes, I hate it when I start thinking about money because it brings me down, makes me sad how others have more, and are doing more. When I was younger, I always wondered why money was so important, there wasn’t anything I needed. It’s good to be kid, not having to worry about responsibilities. But as everyone gets older, of course that changes. I work almost everyday, but it’s still not enough, that’s what is frustrating - it’s never enough. Right now I have to sacrifice the money I make. I put my school on hold so that I can pay for my girlfriend's school, paying for tuition and everything else. I’m very supportive because in everything I do, she is also very supportive, we are each other’s number one fan. Helping her really puts everything ... Read Full Story >>
Last year I bought lunch for a guy who had scraped his pennies together for a cup of tea. He rewarded me by telling me a little about his life, how he had lost the battle with drink but how faith had turned his life around. Now, when most men his age would be enjoying their retirement, he lived in a hostel and spent his time distributing religious tracts to shops, offices and strangers in the street. Well, yesterday Julie and I were back in the same coffee shop. Julie looked over my shoulder and saw the same man, sitting there with a solitary cup of tea, dressed as he had been the time before despite the fact that the outside temperature was sub-zero. We finished our bowls of piping hot soup with crusty bread then I got up and walked over. Knowing he would not remember me I sat down beside ... Read Full Story >>
I was on a long drive this past weekend and stopped for a rest break. I noticed a man in a wheelchair sitting by the stop sign. He was holding a sign that read, "trying to make it home for the holidays". I quickly dismissed it because I had no cash to give him. I watched as people drove by and either ignored him or stared at him like he was a curiosity of sorts. I felt really badly for him. I started to drive away but turned around and asked him if he was hungry. For some reason, I seem to be called to feed hungry people lately. He seemed shocked that someone was interested in his well-being and said yes, he would like a sandwich and a soda. I know some people balk at the idea of giving money to strangers because they may use that money for drugs or alcohol ... Read Full Story >>
I sat with my friend in a well-known coffee shop in a neighboring town of Venice, the city of lights and water. As we enjoyed our coffee, a man entered and sat on an empty table beside us. He called the waiter and placed his order saying, Two cups of coffee, one of them there on the wall. We heard this order with rather interest and observed that he was served with one cup of coffee but he paid for two. As soon as he left, the waiter pasted a piece of paper on the wall saying A Cup of Coffee. While we were still there, two other men entered and ordered three cups of coffee, two on the table and one on the wall. They had two cups of coffee but paid for three and left. This time also, the waiter did the same; he pasted a piece of paper on ... Read Full Story >>
A North Carolina family with an epileptic child was given a touching gift on Friday when an anonymous stranger paid for their dinner at a restaurant, leaving them a note that is, not surprisingly, going viral online. The note read: "God only gives special children to special people." The message was delivered to Ashley England and her family, including her 8-year-old son, Riley, at the Stag-N-Doe pizza restaurant in China Grove, N.C., on Friday by a waitress. "I'll try to do this without crying," the waitress told the family, according to WBTV.com. "But another customer has paid for your bill tonight and wanted me to give you this note." England said Riley, who is nonverbal, gets frustrated because he can't speak, and he had been especially rowdy during the meal. "He threw the phone and started screaming," England told WBTV. "The past few weeks have been very hard and trying for us, especially with public ... Read Full Story >>
I went along with the Kindness Suggestion today and gave someone a surprise treat!
I stopped at Starbucks, bought a $5 gift card and asked the barista to use it on whoever came in next.
I was still waiting for my drink when the next customer arrived. The gentleman thanked me so much for the card and said nothing like that had ever happened to him before. He was so thankful!
He thanked me again as I left, and said, "God bless."
The cashier was tall, slender, and dark-skinned. His name tag identified him as "Mataye." After he rang up my purchase, I asked, "Is that pronounced Muh-TAH-yeh?" "Yes!" he exclaimed with apparent delight. "You pronounced it right!" I gathered most people don't. His accent sounded African, though I couldn't be sure. "That's what it looks like," I replied. "Where are you from?" I asked, smiling. (The smile was important. My question might be interpreted as a challenge or even a threat. I wanted to be sure he understood that my intention was friendly.) "Ethiopia," he answered. "How long have you been here?" I asked, still smiling. "A year," he answered. "Your English is excellent," I said. He smiled. "Do you miss Ethiopia?" Between his accent and the noise in the store, I couldn't make out his answer. Another customer was waiting, so I just smiled again, looked him in the eye, and said, "Thanks, Mataye." It wasn't a big deal, ... Read Full Story >>