Students, residents start ‘paying it forward’

Dylanne Petros and Dylanne Petros

When sociology professor Monica Longmore was a graduate student, she went to pay her rent, only to find it had already been paid.

This random act of kindness is often known as paying it forward, recently becoming popular in everyday places such as coffee shops.

Nathan Warren, shift manager at the Starbucks on East Wooster Street, has seen a lot of paying it forward happening at his store.

“It usually happens a couple of times a day,” Warren said.

The random acts of kindness happen more during certain holidays, usually around Christmas, and younger people in their twenties usually start the chains, Warren said.

Longmore believes peoples’ experiences help to create the acts of kindness.

“When you have some kinds of experiences that are painful and you understand what the pain feels like … it’s hard not to give back,” she said.

Some students have been recipients of the kind act while off campus.

“I was in the drive thru at McDonald’s and I ordered a sweet tea and fries. When I got up to the window to pay, the woman said that the guy in the car in front of me had asked about my order and paid for it himself,” sophomore Taylor Lody said.

After having her own food paid for, Lody decided to continue the chain.

“I was really impressed and touched, so I paid for the order behind me. I don’t know if that was the end of the chain or if it kept going, but it definitely stuck with me,” Lody said.

The chain at Starbucks, once started, can continue for a while.

“Our longest run was 15 cars,” Warren said.

Paying it forward can also be used as a coping mechanism for some people, Longmore said.

“When you try to cope with any loss whatsoever, paying it forwards helps [the healing process],” she said.

The act of kindness can be started by anyone, and some University students have started their own chain reaction because acts they received in the past.

“I have paid for someone without them knowing,” sophomore Marissa Stewart said.

Students have also started the chain reaction to show people having a bad day that there are people who still care.

“I have paid for peoples’ meals in drive thrus,” sophomore Eric Satterlee said. “It shows that there is still humility in the world and people aren’t all bad.”

Another random act of kindness similar to paying it forward is suspended coffees.

The idea of “suspending a coffee” is that someone pays for their coffee and another coffee. Instead of giving the coffee to the person behind them, the coffee shop holds the coffee for someone who is homeless, Lody said.

Even though Warren has never had suspended coffees happen at his store, he said that the store could probably work with them.

When a homeless person comes in, they can ask for a suspended coffee and get the coffee for free.

A suspended coffee can also be held for anyone who is just having a bad day. The employees of the coffee shop can also use their judgment and give the coffee to someone who looks like they are having a bad day.

Students have contemplated ordering the suspended coffees in the Union for other students who might be having a bad day and need a pick-me-up.

“I imagine this could work in the Starbucks in the Union,” Lody said.

Even if students don’t receive a free coffee or a free meal, some are ready to start the chain themselves.

“I know there’s a lot of bad things in the world, but those events just make the good things even more notable,” Lody said.