random acts of peer pressure

*Side note: radio silence for the last month has been due to the fact that our computer died.  It lived a great long life RIP…we got a new one, and so I’m back.*

Last month I read an article about a Starbucks drive-thru that succeeded in a 341 people random act of kindness chain…meaning that amount of people paid for the drinks in the car behind them.  It linked to an article about one woman who refused, thus ending the incredibly long streak of drink buyers.  She basically said she didn’t want to be forced into something like that and it should be a personal choice.  Back then I was appalled.  How selfish, I thought.

You see, I have been having fun with this concept for many years.  I don’t buy someone’s drink every time I go through a drive-thru but more often than not, I used to gear myself up for it…get a little nervous with butterflies…tell the barista I wanted to pay for their drink…say a little prayer in my head for them and drive away.  It was exhilarating and I often hoped that it would brighten that person’s day…set them up with a smile, you know, the usual affects of a random act of kindness.  Most times I got out of there so quick, no one had a chance to even see me…but on rare occasions they would make sure to catch up with me and share their gratitude- usually through a downed window while driving.  I saw tears and joy and it always made me feel like Jesus and I were working together.

Then…a few weeks ago, I drove through a Starbucks one morning, tired and just wanting coffee.  As I pulled up to the window an overly excited teenage barista declared that the person in front of me had paid for my drink and if I paid for the drink behind me, I’d keep the streak alive (they were at number 32).  I said yes, of course, but it didn’t feel the same.  In fact, I felt super pressured.  Instead of feeling so grateful that someone had just paid for my drink, I realized they were probably just as pressured as well.  And to make matters worse, when the barista told me what I owed (for the person behind me) it was less than my drink, to which he joked that “I got a deal.”  Totally not the point dude.

Now, I realize that this whole concept might give people who would never think to buy someone’s drink, an opportunity to participate in a random act of kindness.  However, I really see no other point, other than to boost a particular Starbucks store into the news with the new highest record.  Lame.  This thing is not random and it’s not necessarily kind.  It’s more like targeted acts of peer pressure…

So, this morning when I rolled through the drive thru yet again, I watched as the car in front of me held out her $2 and change.  Then, instead of taking it, the barista (I’m guessing) explained that their drink had been paid for…now, in that moment I bet if the barista had handed her a free drink and said “Hope you have a wonderful day”, that person would be feeling great.  Instead, I watched as the barista explained that she was the 5th person to be involved in a “random act of kindness” and asked if she would like to participate.  I looked on as the driver scrounged around for more change, but ultimately didn’t have enough to cover my pumpkin spice latte.  At this point, I wanted to yell out my window and say- “it’s okay, just enjoy your free drink!” but I didn’t.  When I got to the window the barista explained that half of my coffee had been paid for, blah blah…which confirmed to me that she had totally shamed the poor driver in front of me and under pressure and persuasion, I had been blessed with half my drink paid for.  Gee I feel so loved.  They must have talked to their employees, because this barista definitely was more nonchalant about keeping the streak alive, but shared it nonetheless.  I didn’t have the guts to say anything except yes, but as I drove away I shook my head in disgust. (not really…but it did remind me that I had wanted to write a blog post about this very topic)

Now, don’t get me wrong- I’m all for random acts of kindness.  But it’s about the giver just as much as the receiver.  I remember when someone paid for me a few years back and how amazing it felt…that simple little gesture.  But this whole concept of “keeping the streak alive” ruins all the beautifulness that occurs in a random act of kindness.  It makes me sad to think how many people probably drove away angry.  What’s even more sad is that if I ever get the inkling to pay for someone’s drink randomly, I might think twice because I don’t want them to feel pressured to pay for someone else.  Sad day.

Well, my rant is over.  I realize this is silly but I just had to write it down.

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One response to “random acts of peer pressure

  1. Yay! You’re back! I really enjoyed your thoughts this morning. Reminds me of 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 “Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” I totally agree with your title “random acts of peer pressure.” Miss and love you Krista! Hope you are feeling better.

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