Do You Truly Know Who is in the Car Ahead of You?

Last Thursday, I woke up in a hurry. I wanted to get to my walking group and I had things to do. Important things.

If you asked me now, I could not begin to tell you what those important things were. Still, I was in a rush but somehow kept finding urgent things that required my attention before we left home. My husband reminded me if we didn’t get going, I would miss my chance to pick up a latte from Starbucks on the way. I hurried even more.

We drove into Starbucks behind an ‘older’ couple. They had difficulty finding the drive-through lane. My impatience and my judgement began ticking. They were slow in making their order. Tick tock. Then they decided to pay with their phone. Were they seriously kidding me? They were far too old to know how to pay with their phone. I feared (not for them but for me) that this would not go well. It didn’t. Their phone was handed back to them. They then fumbled for cash before finally pulling out a credit card. More waiting. More impatience. More of me wanting to scream. Actually, I may have screamed.

Then their food and drinks appeared….and appeared and appeared! That was a considerable amount of food for two people. I mentioned previously that they were seniors, right?

In what seemed like an eternity, their order was finally completed. Loaded down with large coffees, muffins, and who knows what else, they slowly drove away.

Finally, my turn!! I smugly handed the cashier my amount owed–in exact change. I was sure that I would delight the people in the car behind me with my ultra-efficient speed of transaction.

Instead of complimenting me on my incredible organization skills, the cashier refused my money.  Huh?

“The couple ahead of you paid for your order and wished you a wonderful day. They are regulars who do this quite often.”

My husband, who had been patiently putting up with my antics all along, used his best ‘I told you so’ voice to ask if I was a bit embarrassed.  ‘A bit embarrassed’  does not begin to describe my mortification.

A few moments later, my husband and I saw this couple pulled over on the side of the road as they arranged their drinks and snacks. We stopped to thank them, and I realized two things. 1.) They were absolutely lovely. 2) They were not much older than me!

Another important lesson sent my way.

Have you given or received a ‘pay it forward’ or ‘random act of kindness’ recently?

 

 

78 Replies to “Do You Truly Know Who is in the Car Ahead of You?”

  1. I’ve had this same thing happen to me. I am not a patient person especially before coffee. I hate when people use the drive-through to cater their entire office and I yell in my car (quietly). As if they know how annoying they are, they pay for my coffee and have the barista offer an apology. Still, the next time I go through and someone doesn’t know what they want or caters their office, I repeat the same frustrating judgmental behavior. I blame it on “before coffee.” That makes me feel better. What I have done is pay for someone else’s if my order seems to take extraordinarily long.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Kate – I am so glad to hear that I am not alone. I haven’t been back to Starbucks (or any other drive-through) since. I have convinced myself that I will have improved ‘before coffee’ behaviour next time. I’ll keep you posted on how this goes! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t normally go to Starbucks or their drive through but I’ve been in multiple similar situations where I let my aggravation get the best of me. It’s usually because of prior poor planning on my part that puts me in a position of needing the whole world to speed up in order to accommodate my schedule. Oh, and of course there are those times when I’m not functioning on all four cylinders and I hope that others can cut me a little slack. It’s called being human, dear Donna.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I call people like this slow pokes! And now that you’ve told the story, I’m thinking they were probably going to deliver the items they purchased to others. As for the pay it forward, I have done it a few times but never been on the receiving end. I have a friend that does it every time she goes through a drive thru.

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  4. I tend to be impatient as well but I am getting better. I get so annoyed when older folks take forever to pay for their purchases in the grocery store. But then remind myself I may be the same one day.

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    1. Hi, Darlene – I’ve been trying to be more patient, and less quick to judge, in my retirement. Some days, I am more successful at this goal than others.
      We live in a VERY senior area (actually the oldest senior population in Canada). Like you, I remind myself that (if lucky) I will be just as slow in the grocery line one day. Then, other times, I wonder what younger people behind me in line are thinking!

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  5. A good story, Donna. We never know what the people around us are going through, good or bad. I haven’t received or given a “pay it forward”. I make donations through regular channels. Oh and I don’t do drive thru (no car) so when I do, I’ll be the slowest customer 🙂

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    1. Thanks, Jill. While you were writing this, I was writing reviews on Goodreads and Amazon.ca for A Mother For His Twins. I absolutely loved this novel and could not put it down. I also enjoyed the updates on the characters from A Father for Bella. I had missed them!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I don’t drink coffee so never have to save time for that but I do tend to be on the impatient side — it is certainly better now that I am semi retired as I do have that little bit of extra time and don’t always feel as rushed. Having said that on work days I am still late out the door (less often though) and then for me it’s the impatience behind slow slow drivers that gets me. I always remind myself it’s better to be alive and late than a trauma patient.
    For those of us with an impatient nature it is always a work in progress.

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  7. Some stuck up a conversation with me at the seabus terminal. In Vancouver. And talked to me all the way to North Van. I think this is a first for me. I thank Hornby Island for teaching me the art of chatting with strangers.

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  8. Hi Donna,

    I don’t usually go through drive-throughs so I haven’t had the chance to either give or receive in that fashion. Of course that may all change once I retire from my leisurely life of full-time work and become a fast-paced retiree 😜, like yourself! 😄
    However I have helped people out at the checkout lane if they were short a few dollars on their purchase. I know how embarrassed I’ve felt in the past when it happened to me. I try never to pass up a chance to earn some good karma!🙏

    Deb

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  9. Love it! Thank you. It is never easy to experience these moments of humility, self-enlightenment, and gratitude (spoken like someone who’s had a few of these moments). Ah, the price of enlightenment — or, at the least, patience. Given I live in QB and this is the second time this week I have heard about random acts of kindness in our area, I am truly inspired. Thank you. Have followed your blog for awhile and am appreciative of your adventures… especially this one!

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  10. Had to laugh. Know that you are definitely not alone in your impatience, Donna. I have been guilty of it myself. I love the pay it forward (or in this case backward) idea but have not had a chance to do it, or don’t remember to when I’m in a drive through. Sometimes, when I am forced to wait for someone ahead of me I think that perhaps it is the Universe’s way of protecting me from getting into an accident or something. That helps with the waiting.

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  11. I haven’t received nor given a ‘pay it forward’ for a little less than a year now. Last December someone in line at my usual fast food for breakfast place did that for me, and so I did it for the next car in line behind me. Whatever they ordered cost a whole lot less than what I had. It was a really uplifting experience. I’m going to remember your story the next time I’m in line behind some ‘old farts’ who are making me fume. You just never know! Thanks for sharing this, I needed a lift today! 😀

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  12. What a great story — and thanks for the reminder to take a deep breath, slow down, and enjoy the ride. We may never know what challenges others are experiencing that make them temporary aggravations to us, ha!

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  13. What a great story Donna! I’ve not been on the receiving end of something like this, but have paid for people’s groceries when they come up short in line in front of me, and have paid the toll for the next car behind us.
    We’ve also bought a meal for a couple of servicemen in uniform who were at a table near us at a local restaurant…Paying it forward is fun, and it DOES make you feel good.

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    1. Thanks, Nancy – I agree that paying it forward is fun, makes us feel good, and hopefully creates a positive chain reaction that continues onward. Since last Thursday, I’ve kept in my pocket change equaling the price of a Starbucks latte. In that way, I am immediately ready to ‘pay it forward’ which I have done 3x so far! 😀

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  14. I totally did not see that one coming. Great anecdote, Donna. I have to laugh at your husband giving you an “I told you so” look when he’s the one who seemingly put you into that frenetic mood to begin with! Gotta love marriages. 🙂 – Marty

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    1. Hi, Marty – Thanks for giving me an ‘out’ here. As much as I would love to pin this one on Richard, the responsibility for my frenetic mood is all on me. I’m the one who chose to dawdle in the morning. And I’m the one who wanted to stop at Starbucks. I’m also the one who was instantly judgemental about the couple ahead of us when Richard repeatedly tried to defend them. Geez, when I put this all in black and white, it definitely does not look good for my team! :C

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Lovely story with so many lessons!

    I remember once while headed toward a pay booth at an airport , someone wanted to squeeze in front of me. I kind of threw my hands up in exasperation and motioned for him to go ahead but obviously I wasn’t completely happy about it. As I got up to the window, the agent told me that the man had paid my toll. Kindnesses are returned, to be sure!

    I always hold doors open for people and sometimes I get zero thanks. I have to remind myself that I am not doing it to be thanked, I’m doing it because it makes me feel good to do little acts of kindness despite what other people do.

    My husband is really good too at modeling patience and I love him for it.

    Bottom line, I do mobile orders 😅

    Susan Grace

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    1. Hi, Pam – I love that you plan to randomly buy dinner for someone at a restaurant this year. That’s an awesome idea. A young couple who are related to friends of mine were travelling in Europe. They were tired and cranky and began to squabble in a restaurant. When they asked for their bill, they received a note instead saying “Life is short, nothing lasts forever, be kind to each other.” Their dinner had been paid.

      Liked by 2 people

  16. Hi Donna, You described how I would have been waiting in the car! What a lovely story though and certainly some lessons learned. Last year I did a countdown to Christmas and one was showing a random act of kindness. I walked to my local coffee shop, bought a coffee and also paid for one for whoever came in next. The barrister looked at me as if I was some crazy woman but I can tell you that act made me feel good and also excited as to who the next person would be and what their reaction would be. I never knew who received the benefit of my kindness but it made me feel great. Have a beautiful week, Donna xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Sue – I remember your Christmas Countdown and the RAK piece that went with it. It was very inspiring! As you mentioned then, RAKs can be easy to do, and they don’t always need to have a monetary value. With a little bit of patience and understanding, we truly can make a difference for others.

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  17. I tried to comment much earlier this morning from my tablet but I couldn’t. This post and your experience brought tears to my eyes, Donna! Aren’t we so quick to judge and be impatient? I would have reacted exactly like you did. I’m glad you got to experience this paying forward business–it has happened to me a couple of times and I have also paid for someone’s order in the past. A timely reminder with the holidays almost upon us to be patient and practice those random acts of kindness.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Terri – Thank you for persevering with your comment. I greatly appreciate you doing that. You are absolutely right about the holidays being a perfect time to up our patience and our acts of kindness. Sadly, the holidays can be a lonely and trying time for so many. A little kindness can go a long way!

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  18. That would have been me – impatient & judgey. That’s a really lovely story – and an unexpected one.It’s also a timely reminder to be kind – in thought and deed.

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  19. I don’t do drive thru coffee (or drive thru anything really). If I’m paying for a coffee I want the whole sitting down, chatting, social experience to feel like I got my money’s worth (did I mention I’m frugal???) We live in such a fast paced world these days and none of us like to wait, so I totally get your frustration – but I did laugh when you realized they weren’t much older than you were 😀 😀

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  20. Hi, Donna,
    Sometime back, I said to a friend that “ the older I get, the less patience I have for old people “.
    Now , I am hobbling around on a new knee and hopeful that all the young people behind me at the grocery store understand my fumbling with a cane to get to my wallet.
    I have definitely learned a lesson in patience.
    Enjoy your next cup of coffee…slowly.

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    1. Hi, Joe – I loved your comment that the older you get, the less patience you have for old people. 😀 I’ve recently read that senior living magazines purposely use models who are ten years younger than that of the target audience. The reason behind this is that most ‘seniors’ believe themselves to look/act/be more youthful than they actually are. I relate to this completely.

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  21. Ha, ha, I had to laugh but a great post and lessons learned!
    I haven’t had anything like this but mainly as I don’t frequent drive-throughs and don’t like Starbucks. Although here in southern Italy, many random strangers want to pay for a coffee or drink – very humbling and so kind.

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  22. Great post. Really illustrates how we often make assumptions about people and snap judgements, which ultimately of course cannot be accurate. Love the gesture of kindness on their part and that if it caught on, everyone would probably exert a bit more patience and kindness. AFTER coffee of course.

    I am not a coffee drinker, but Ben is. And believe you me, I know full well what can happen if his coffee is delayed in the morning. Watch out!!! So we do prioritise his addiction before all else. Coffee is the drug that makes people act a bit whacked out, when it arrives late or not at all (heaven forbid!!)

    Peta

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    1. HI, Peta – Thank you for your very insightful comment. I’m a social coffee drinker–so I (sadly) do not have a coffee addiction to blame for my behaviour. Many years ago, I read Deepak Chopra’s The Seven Laws of Spiritual Success. It took me forever to get past Chapter One – The Law of Pure Potentiality (i.e. Practicing Stillness and Non-Judgement). Retirement has helped me in this endeavour, but (as my post clearly illustrates), there remains room for improvement! 😀

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  23. I do understand the frustration! My bugbear is people whose purchases are all put through when it suddenly occurs to them that they need to pay. Cue much fumbling for wallets etc. As for paying it forward, I’ve done that in social enterprise cafes where you can pay for items for homeless people, but never for a person standing right in front of me.

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  24. Thank you for sharing the “good” in our Universe, Donna. I know it surrounds us, although, not often publicized. Yes, we do unexpected pick up dinners for strangers and they have no idea who it came from. It is to commemorate something special and personal and private in our lives. Only because you asked, Donna. 🙂 Too funny on surrounded by older people. We commented on this with friends waiting in a line-up for a theatre show. Then we looked at each other and became very silent.👵

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    1. Hi, Erica – “Good in our Universe” does surround us. The more that we focus on this and share it, the more it multiplies! Anonymously picking up a dinner tab to commemorate something important to you is very special indeed. Thank you so much for sharing this.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Dawn – Great question. Our Starbucks drive-through is a two-step process. First, you place your order via a little microphone thingy. There your order is tallied. Then you drive (and wait) a little further and pay and receive your order. That’s how they know the amount of the order for the person behind you. You could also state a fixed amount if you prefer.

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