Stories of Kindness from Around the World

The Smile Card Exchange

--by ClemDubois, posted Mar 16, 2010

About a month ago, while in the drive through at Starbucks, I noticed a woman in a car behind me who appeared to be having a bad day. There were two kids in the back who looked to have too much energy at 8am on a Sunday morning.  The line moved slowly and at one point while pulling forward, the woman behind me bumped my car. I could tell this worried and concerned her. The entire time that I waited in line for my coffee this woman didn't smile.

Looking back at her I could tell she was looking at the side view mirror wondering "Why me? Why today?"

When I pulled up and paid for my coffee I requested that the Starbucks barista give the woman behind me a Smile Card and paid for her muffin and latte.

Just 30 mins ago I was again waiting in line at the Starbucks. I heard a car door slam but thought nothing of it.  I was startled when this same woman came up to my driver side window. She handed me a twenty dollar bill and the same Smile Card I had given to her. She smiled and said, "This is for you. You were the one who gave this to me originally right? All I need you to do is ask the barista to give the change back to me."  It was amazing! it was as if this woman had been waiting to show her appreciation for what I had done! I know in most cases its best to have this passed on, "Pay it Forward."  But, the fact that she held on to the Smile Card instead of throwing it away, and then made the move to repay me, means perhaps she understands the meaning of giving a smile, regardless of who the receiver is.

The most amazing thing? The day I bought her coffee and muffin for her, the entire day after, I was filled with this sense of hope. Wondering if what I had done had made a difference and hoping that what I had done had made her feel better.  When she got back into her car today she was all Smiles. I could tell she felt the same way I had that one early Sunday morning. It was nice to have my drink paid for, but what felt even better was seeing the happiness and smile on her face.

As I pulled out of the drive-thru, she waved and yelled out, "Have a good day!" I yelled back "You too!" and waved my arms off.  It has changed my day from a "Why Me Day" into a day of happiness.

I now pass out these Smile Card to my friends and family in hopes they will pass them out or even just look at them when times are rough. It's amazing what a simple reminder to smile can do to brighten your day.

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Readers Comments

Peter J Sullivan wrote: This is a beautiful story! Where can i get those smile cards?
Adele wrote: Thanks for the isinhgt. It brings light into the dark!
moral12 wrote: This story brought tears to my eyes. Such a gesture probably meant more to that lady than you could have imagined; to show that someone cared what kind of day she was having. Thanks for sharing your story.
Balakishan Rao wrote: It is a really wonderful that smiles are distribbuted. Please see that some smiles are also sent to special persons of our manovikas special school mfor mentally challenged,karimngar,a. P . India
Winnie Clark wrote: It is such a wonderful feeling receiving an unexpected gift. Some one in the car in front of me paid my toll,wow, i learned another way of saying thank you for all the good things in life.
Ravishankar wrote: Very nice. Smile takes you miles.

Gives hope and meaning to life.

Clemdubois wrote: For those wondering how this type of thing works i would love to explain it.

When you reach the window for the drive thru, the barista will already know what the person behind you is having. All you need to do is ask to pay for the person behind you. If you're not sure what they are ordering, just ask what they ordered. The barista will tell you. If you can't afford the whole order, offer to pay for just the coffee or just the muffin. Give the barista the smile card and move on with your day. :)

Good luck spreading smiles!
Marina wrote: Nice! I love this!
andaLi wrote: Wonderful experience & confirmation that what we do makes a difference. Sometimes it's good to know that. You've awakened another dear soul to blessings and a new way of walking in the world. Bless you & thanks for sharing the story.
kate wrote: I loved this pay it back(wards) story!

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