Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Giving Experiment

This morning I got to Starbucks 30 minutes before my 9:00 appointment with the idea I would work a little. This is my place, they know my name, my drink, and my schedule. The baristas are awesome, know that I am in ministry and will often have my drink ready when I get to the front of the line on Tuesdays so I can get to staff meeting. It's quite funny when I have a guest with me, and makes me realize just how much of a creature of habit I am.

I sat down with my coffee this morning and opened my laptop only to discover it was dead, and my charger was at home. Not enough time to go to the office, but too much time to just play on my phone. So I decided... It's December, what could be more fun than people watching and maybe a random act of kindness or two to stir up the Christmas spirit? I ran up to the register and gave Emily (the cashier) some cash. I told her to look at me and if I nodded to pay for their drink out of the money and say it was a random Christmas gift from a person who wanted to brighten their day. She loved playing along, and I took my spot.

Minutes later, a woman stressed out, dragging two toddlers and a crying baby came in. Of course I nodded, the lady smiled and looked around the room as she waited for her drink. She even asked a few people around her if anyone knew who did it. A few minutes later a man, clearly well off, dressed in a full suit, long coat and hat came in. I was intrigued to see how he would respond, so I gave the signal and she told him a random stranger paid for his drink. He laughed and said he could cover it! Really? It was free? Just when I was in disbelief, he said to Emily, "well I don't want to steal a blessing, so take this 5$ and do the same for someone else". Ha! He paid it forward and you could see it made his day.

Over the course of 30 minutes 9 people came in and had a random act of kindness given to them. The part of this that fascinated me was the change of the room. A room that every morning is quiet, people flipping through their phones keeping to themselves had transformed into this place of buzzing friendly conversations. Watching the register to see if it would continue, who got it, and trying to crack a code! There was eye contact and laughter, few phones were out, and people were interacting. I don't think anyone ever caught on, and I had a blast. The last lady that was paid for turned to me and said, "I just moved here, this is quite the friendly place". It gave me an opportunity to invite her to our Christmas Eve services. Who knows, maybe all of that was for her?

It never ceases to amaze me how giving, in any form, leads to contagious joy.

Best 40 bucks I have spent in a long time.

Merry Christmas All!


  1. Love it! Wish I could have enjoyed this with you!

  2. I am sure we will have more opportunities, however this one is right up your alley isn't it?

  3. Love this Heidi. I can't wait to do something similar in my town.

  4. That's awesome! Let me know if you do :)