Speed Reads

good deeds

Over the span of 11 hours, almost 400 Starbucks customers 'paid it forward'

It started at 7 a.m. Wednesday with a caramel macchiato, and lasted 11 hours with 378 customers and countless Frappucinos.

Almost 400 people at a St. Petersburg, Florida, Starbucks decided to "pay it forward," meaning they picked up the tab for the person behind them in line. A woman in the drive-thru started it, paying for her iced coffee and the order from the car behind her. The chain continued, with each customer buying for the next one. The employees started keeping track of how many cars participated, the Tampa Bay Times reports, and by 1:30 p.m., 260 customers had paid it forward.

The chain kept going, with some participants telling the Times they liked the idea of being part of something big, and others just didn't want to be the person who stopped it. The staff had no idea how long it would keep going, and they considered what they might do if everyone kept paying it forward until the store shut down at 10 p.m.

But all good things must come to an end, and at 6 p.m., a woman who ordered a simple cup of coffee declined a barista's offer to keep the chain going. Saying she didn't want to pay for someone else's drink, she forked over $2.25 and took off. Barista Vu Nguyen believes she just didn't understand the concept of paying it forward, but luckily for the town of St. Petersburg, there are nearly 400 people who do.