1. Our story begins at 7 a.m. in the morning, at a Starbucks drive-through in St Petersburg, Florida.
The Tampa Bay Times reports that a woman bought herself a drink, then – wherefore we know not why – decided to pay for the drink of the person in the car behind.
2. According to the paper, the person who’d had a drink bought for them felt they should return the favour.
As did the person behind them. And the person behind them. And so on.
3. The paper reports that by 1.30 p.m. 260 people had “paid it forward”:
Some said the simple act connected them to all of the others in line before them. Others said they didn’t want to be the jerk to end it.
The baristas inside began to think of what they might do if it lasted until 10 p.m., when the Starbucks closed. Perhaps they could put the final amount on a gift card and continue the next day? They tallied 378 people by early evening.
4. It was all rather wonderful.
5. The paper reports it wasn’t until 6 p.m. that the chain was broken, when customer 379 declined to pay for the next person.
One woman, Lucy Ramon, who paid it forward twice that day, told Bay News 9: “I think it just puts a smile on people’s face and it made me happy this morning,” she said. “It actually showed my son here a nice little lesson as well. So, it’s a great thing.”