From Skeptic to Believer.

*Thank you to Jenny, from Lisle, IL, for sharing your 'Pay It Forward' experience!*

Hello Chain Links,

I would like to begin by admitting that I have seen this group on facebook… and I’m not going to lie, at first I was a little skeptical. Mostly because I believe everyone should do random acts of kindness each and every day in their life. For example, if you see someone that does not have enough money to pay for their groceries, help them out if at all possible. To tell you the truth, what I was the most skeptical about was the idea of some random stranger coming up to me and giving me a free hot coffee. Being the hesitant person that I am, I would automatically assume they wanted something from me. Or perhaps they have been following me…..Should I call the cops?!

Ironically enough, the day after I was openly questioning the entire concept behind Chain Links, I had my first random act of kindness done for me. Let’s just say it completely changed my perspective.

Here is how the story went:

I was driving back to work for the second half of my shift, when, by habit, I pulled up to the Starbucks drive thru window. As I pull up to the window with my money in hand, the barista tells me:

“You can keep the money. Your drink has already been paid for.”

“What do you mean it has been paid for?”

“Oh, the woman in front of you paid for your drink… and the person in front of them paid for hers.”

Stunned, I responded with: “Well, then I guess I’ll just buy the person’s behind me….”

Even though I don't know how long this chain lasted, it definitely taught me a valuable lesson: that there are genuine people out there that give without expecting anything in return.

Maybe I won’t be calling the cops after all. =)

Lisle, IL


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    There is no question that the Starbucks prepaid drink phenomenon occurs, but there is some question regarding whether or not it is a genuine act of kindness that only apparently happens at Starbucks or a management-directed promotional activity ("tell the next driver their drink is free") for purposes of annual holiday goodwill and publicity. The Starbucks Cheer Chain phenomena began in 2007 as a holiday coupling promotion ( and has resurfaced each year since across the country in various forms -- again, only at Starbucks. You be the judge.

  • In reply to Andrew Hetzel:

    Hi Andrew-- So I checked out the link and you were right--It looks as though in 2007, Starbucks started a "Cheer Chain" as a publicity stunt...but that does not mean it doesn't begin a ripple effect. I have seen it firsthand. I know this act also occurs as a genuine act of kindness. I know this because I have "started" the chain numerous times (without any prompting from a Starbucks barista.) I have also been in the car when my friend pulled up to the window and found out her coffee had already been paid for. She then chose to buy it for the car behind her in order to keep the chain going.

    I do understand where you are coming from on this, but if the Starbucks management team occasionally chooses to hand out these "Buy one/Get one" coupons during the holidays, is that really so bad? It not only brightens someone day, but also allows the potential for a ripple effect to occur. For me, knowing this about them only makes me respect them as a company that much more! =) Thanks for checking out my blog.

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