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15 people share the most unexpected 'pay it forward' moment they've experienced.

15 people share the most unexpected 'pay it forward' moment they've experienced.


A simple act of kindness can not only make one person's day, but it can turn into a trickle effect of kindness.

One person buying a stranger coffee can inspire that stranger to do the same, and before you know it, dozens of people have a spring in their step from the goodness of strangers.

In a popular Reddit thread, people shared the most unexpected 'pay it forward' moments they've experienced, and it may restore a bit of faith in humanity.

1. From OP:

The barista at my local Starbucks didn't tell me until I handed him my card to pay for the car behind me that 8 of us had done the exact same thing. He and the other workers could not stop smiling!

All of them seemed really excited about what they just witnessed, and honestly--I was really stunned that 8 of us had independently decided to pay for the car behind us.

After the madness that was Black Friday, and the horrible behavior that usually accompanies it, I just couldn't help but be amazed at what I had inadvertently been a part of.

I've paid for people's meals/groceries/coffee before (especially around the holidays), but I've never been on the receiving end of a 'pay it forward' chain or somebody that helped keep one going!

I know the 8 of us didn't solve any major world crisis this morning or really help anyone out, and the woman behind me may not have actually liked having her drinks purchased by me.

But the semi-anonymous gesture of buying your neighbor's coffee on a cold Sunday morning just...moved me. I just couldn't stop smiling. It was as if kindness was contagious this morning! :D

And just thinking about a possible 'pandemic' of kindness leaves me breathless. I'm sure this isn't even the most impressive 'pay it forward' scenario that people have encountered, so I want to hear your tales!

2. From Soggybottomdude:

I worked at an ice cream parlour and once had a guy give me a 20 and told me to pay for the next person. Next person was a grumpy old man that told me to f**k off and that he can pay for himself.

3. From Drunkdillweed:

I've done this before at a drive-thru. I was at a Little Caeser's waiting for my pizza, and a truck pulls up behind me. It was later at night and he had his lights on. He turned his lights off. He didn't have to, but it was a nice gesture.

So I paid for two hot and ready's for him.

4. From whenindoubtrunitout:

A few years ago, a friend of mine and I were doing a long, involved rock climb in the middle of the American Southwest desert. We were still relatively inexperienced rock climbers, and it would be fair to say that we were in over our heads.

Before too long, it had gotten dark, and as some of you might know, the desert ends up getting terribly cold at night.

It was still early spring, so we knew that we didn't want to be caught on the top of this tower, at night, with little shelter from the elements. On top of that, my friend has Raynaud's Disease, and is mildly hypoglycemic.

By the time the sun had set, her hands were blue, she was starting to 'bonk', and was in poor shape to either climb up or down. We quickly realized that the smartest thing to do, at this point, was to get the hell off of the climb.

Because of the nature of the climb, it was necessary that we leave our rope up there, along with roughly $100 of gear to anchor our rope to the wall (other climbers--we weren't at a bolted belay there was nothing convenient to rap off of).

Even if I could have spent a night on top of Castleton, I knew that my friend was in no condition to do so. So we abandoned ship, leaving our rope, a few cams, and some other stuff up there.

If we had more time, we could have gone back and got it the next day,, but Sarah's schedule was too tight for that. Without a pen or pencil, we weren't even able to write a note to ask for help getting our gear back.

It was late, and Sarah had to work the next day, so we pretty much figured that that was the last time we would see our gear. The next day, Sarah got a call from a distant friend asking if we had been on Castleton and if we had bailed on gear.

Sarah said that we had, and her friend explained that a friend of his had also been there, seen our car at the parking lot, and surmised (when we weren't there in the morning) that the gear must of belonged to the mystery car.

So he called all of his climbing acquaintances, asked if anyone knew our car, and eventually tracked us down. Not only did this stranger (well, friend of a friend) return our gear to us, but he drove almost two hours out of his way to do so.

He refused any of our offers to buy him a beer in gratitude.

TL;DR Went climbing. Left a bunch ($300+) of gear with no hopes of getting it back. Random dude retrieved our gear, tracked us down, and drove out of his way to get it back to us.

5. From BEASTCOCK69:

When I was younger and in grade school, we had competitions to sell magazines and you get prizes at the know the drill. Well, our small class of about 30 kids all lived in the same area, except for this one super-rich douche.

A different school cleaned up all the houses we usually go to so I was only able to sell one magazine after like 2 days of hunting.

I find out later that everyone did sh**ty and the one guy who bought from me bought from everybody, like 20 magazines.

He single-handedly gave all of us our sole sale. He ended up dying that year too :/.

6. From grizzly6ear:

Every Christmas my mom always gets my dad the same thing: an act of kindness. We are so fortunate to be able to afford nice presents for everyone in the family and more. Because of this, my dad always wants to pay it forward.

So, my mom always helps someone financially.

Last year she helped a local family by paying for both their kids to play football (they were playing already and were having trouble getting the payment) and giving them a healthy amount to live on due to the dad being fired. She also bought them pizza.

My mom always puts her story of kindness in an envelope and puts it in the tree on Christmas morning. My dad is always happy. I know this will be buried but I wanted to share.

He was inspired by a similar story about a man buying lacrosse gear for a less fortunate team. It would be cool if someone found it.

7. From PaulChico:

I live in North Jersey. I was on the Parkway headed to work at the Garden State Plaza and coming up to a toll booth. I don't use E-Z Pass so I got into a Cash lane.

As I approached it, the lady operating the booth told me 'The car in front of you had already paid for me'. Feeling so fortunate, I gave the lady $3 and said 'This is for the next two, have a pleasant day!'

This only made me hope that this 'pay it forward' chain of gratitude just continued.

8. From ezArnold:

I worked in retail while I was in college. The place I worked at often had 15-20% discount coupons and dollar-off coupons that were sent to customers who held the in-store charge/credit cards (I worked at Kohl's).

During the Christmas shopping season last year, one of the customers who had finished with their transaction asked if they were allowed to hold on to their coupon they just used. I replied that they were.

The customer turned around and handed it to the person behind her. Now the people who had received it looked really thankful, and after they had finished with their transaction, they too in return passed it on to the people behind them.

This went on for about 45 minutes to an hour, during one of the busiest times of day. You gotta remember it was during the holidays, school was out, and there were always long lines at the register.

So, a good chunk of people managed to get 20% off their transaction. I hate f**king working during this time of year. The store is crowded, there are more people looking for assistance than there are workers.

Anyone who's worked a few days before Christmas knows what it's like...its chaos. It slightly restored my faith about working in retail. Truly a good sight to see.

9. From RPh_JF17:

Best night ever at the bar this past Wednesday. It was crowded cause everyone was back in town with their friends and just getting hammered and having a good time I went to get some more drinks and for everyone.

I was standing at the bar waiting for the bartender who was slaving away and started talking with the random guy beside me. Next thing you know he offers to buy my drink. I tell him I can't let him do that cause I'm buying for a s**t ton of folks.

He tells me it's not a problem, don't worry, he insists. So I of course being in good spirits, let him and then offer to buy the next round. Well when I go to do so, I find out some other guy already did so cause he overheard our conversation take place.

Then one of the bartenders pulls us aside and tells me and my new buddy that they have no clue whose cards to charge anymore cause everyone is buying drinks for each other and not themselves anymore.

All of the tabs were left open and the buyers aren't the drinkers, everyone is confused as to who ordered what for who and there are multiple orders and people arguing on whose turn it is to buy.

The bartender said about 12 different people have bought drinks for other people/groups now at that time all because of the simple generosity that was first shown.

Edit: Alright so I just looked at my credit card bill and I got nailed for a total of $108.50 which I'm assuming is including a nice tip too. The bar definitely figured out the billing cause my friends got theirs as well.

TL/DR we all got drunk for free, Christmas came early, credit card roulette.

10. From mademoiselleak:

While working as a barista at Borders (R.I.P.) I had a little girl come up and order a mocha. I make it for her and hand it to her. She has an odd, disappointed look on her face, but she leaves with it anyway.

She comes back with mom five minutes later who explains that she wanted a mocha frappe. Totally different. Now, usually, when someone just orders the wrong thing I basically say tough titties.

Because that's what the pictures and explanations on the board are for, as well as opening your mouth and asking if you don't know. But she was a little girl, and I felt sorry for her.

I was having a sh**ty day, so it annoyed me more than anything, but I felt bad enough to make her a new one.

She came back later and gave me a 3-dollar tip. It was sweet, and obviously money her mom had given her, which she could have spent on a lot of better things. It made me smile and be a lot less bitter that day.

Years later, went through a Starbucks drive-thru, went to pay, and realized I had lost my wallet. The barista let me keep the drink anyway. Went and found the wallet, came back, and gave her a 5-dollar tip.

I don't think she expected to ever see me again, she was just being nice.

Tip-forwarding: feels good.

EDIT: 1) My management had told me not to do this unless I messed up the order. I would technically have gotten 'talked to' for making her a new one. This doesn't make me less of a dick, just illustrates why I was at all hesitant.

2) I tried to give the tip back, she would have none of it-she was that awesome of a little girl. Plus, she seemed really smiley and happy to even give me that tip. I'm sure mom encouraged her-but they were both awesome.

3) Yes, I am the dick in both stories. I was illustrating other people's kindness, and a small way I tried to pay it forward. I also try to pay it forward in everyday life by being genuinely nice to people.

Also, that day, I was not mean to the little girl, I was nice, I was annoyed internally. That doesn't make me less of a dick, I suppose, but just so I don't seem like a heartless monster that steals little girl's' money and spews epithets at them.

11. From samharrisson21:

This actually happened two weeks ago. I walked out to my car and noticed there was an iPad underneath the tire. Like...directly underneath it. So, I take it out and there aren't any scratches or cracks and it works perfectly.

I go into their email and Facebook and send them a message saying 'Hi, my name is samharrisson21 and I found your iPad. Here's my number. Give me a call.'

She called 30 minutes later and insisted that she give me a 100-dollar reward. And then I felt guilty. Why should I accept 100 dollars for just being a decent human being?

So, I told her that if she really wants to get rid of a hundred bucks, I would rather her donate it to the Jimmy Fund since my best friend just went through cancer and was helped out by them.

It turns out this woman was a breast cancer survivor and was helped out by Dana Farber—who owns the Jimmy Fund. One hundred bucks was donated in my name.

TL;DR: Returned an iPad back to its owner and got 100 bucks to the Jimmy Fund in response.

12. From Pony_Aid:

My friend has been there for me ever since we met. His family became a second to my own and they shower me with complete, unconditional, love.

The youngest of the family has even become a little brother I never had as he wants me to come to all his sporting events and just go to the store with him when he wants to pick up some yu-gi-oh! cards.

There is honestly nothing I could do ever do to repay them for what they have done for me or what they will continue to do for me. So, when I heard that their mom got rear-ended and had their car totaled I got worried.

Though they are blessed with overflowing love, money is not one thing they have much of and has always been a struggling concern.

A neighbor let them borrow use of their car, but they could not expect or ask to borrow it forever and if they did not get the funds for a new one soon then they would have no way to commute to work or run errands.

This financial situation put stress in their lives, in the lives of my 2nd family, and I could tell. I heard of fights and high tension.

They already had so many other things that needed to be addressed: the bottom of their oven has corroded out, their AC unit was filled with black mold and had to be removed and needs to be replaced.

Multiple plumbing issues that keep occurring, and the list goes one. They live very simple, with the only luxury being Netflix. Hell, they can't even afford a Thanksgiving turkey so they make spaghetti since the cost per serving is so minimal.

I also learned they don't celebrate any holidays or birthdays, in the traditional sense. They acknowledge them and observe them, but they can't afford gifts or any additional expenses that would include decorations, festivities, or the like.

Last year I got their whole family presents for Christmas. Most were simple, but the smile and joy it brought them was what truly mattered.

Truth be told, I could tell their Dad was sad that day though, because in some way he felt that he had failed them, or perhaps, simply let them down because he wished he could have given them those gifts and more.

However, I have digressed from where I was before. This family has given me more love and more joy than I could even imagine. So the 2k I got a neighbor to give to them in a blank envelope still feels like I shorted them.

Now, I am by no means a rich man. I have about a grand total of 6k to my name, but this was one of the easiest decisions I have ever made. I love these people, so it was the least I could do.

And knowing them, they'll continue to pass that love on too. Also, the cute blue car they got makes me smile every time I see how happy they are to have it. I will never tell them it was me, and if they ask I will deny it.

It does not matter, nor do I wish for them to feel as if they owe me something, because I know they would want to pay me back...even if it took several lifetimes. I did it because I love them and because of the love they have shown me.

No reason I'm ever messing that up for some simple pieces of paper.

13. From Joessandwich:

Someone paid my toll for the Golden Gate Bridge on Friday night. I still feel guilty for not immediately thinking of paying it forward.

14. From questdragon47:

I was at my senior prom dinner and when we went to go pay, the waiter told us that someone else had paid for it. We eventually figured out that it was the old couple next to us. We tried to give them back their money and they refused.

They told us about their senior prom night and they couldn't afford to go out to a nice restaurant and told all of us to pay it forward when we get the opportunity in the future.

15. From bassinine:

I was buying like $1.25 in gas, all the cash I had, as I was driving 20 mins away to get my paycheck. Start pumping gas after I prepay, and it goes up to like $10 before the pump cuts off.

Since I was confused, and didn't want to drive away without paying for gas, I went back into the gas station. Turns out the person in line right behind me paid for my extra gas and never even told me. Made my day.

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