Give Yourself a Wellness Boost: Pay it Forward at the Drive-Through


Although eating at fast food restaurants is not the healthiest of activities, there is something you can do at the drive-through that is good for your heart, body, and soul: You can pay it forward.

I’m talking about paying for the person’s order in the car behind you. Perhaps you’ve done it before, or perhaps it’s been done for you. If so, you are probably already familiar with the giddy, warm sensation you get when someone practices a random act of kindness at, of all places, a fast food restaurant.

The trend of paying it forward at North American drive-throughs has ballooned in the past several years. Last year in Manitoba, 228 consecutive cars payed it forward at a Tim Horton’s in Winnipeg. “Serial” incidences of drive-through paying it forward have been known to happen at most restaurants, with anywhere from 4-24 drivers participating in the kindness chain.

A little generosity can go a long way, it seems.

Mark Moraitakis, Chick-fil-A hospitality director, acknowledges the phenomenon and speculates that it might be happening with higher frequency because there’s “a lot of stuff going on.. . that people find discouraging.” The benevolent gesture of paying for a stranger’s meal at the drive-through is one small way to counteract that.

The concept of paying it forward is not a new one. In fact, it’s as old as the hills. In 2000, Haley Joel Osment put a face on the pay-it-forward concept when he played a young boy named Trevor in a movie aptly titled Pay It Forward. The film received mixed reviews, but it definitely helped reiterate the concept of random acts of kindness in peoples’ minds.

If absorbing the cost of someone’s grease-laden junk meal doesn’t sound like the ideal method of paying it forward to you, there are certainly other ways to do it. For inspiration, you could visit the website and read about some awesome acts of kindness performed by other people. In one instance, for example, a stranger paid for a woman’s $10,000 liver transplant without ever revealing his/her identity.

One of the most beautiful things about paying it forward is that your generous act can have a rippling affect that lasts for hours, days, or even longer after your deed is done. The truth is, you might never know exactly how far your generosity reverberates into the future or who your kindess will ultimately touch.

At the very least, you will know you’ve brightened the day of the hamburger-muncher in the car behind you.

Flickr image courtesy of Eli Christman



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