It started at 7 a.m. on Wednesday and, by the time it ended at 6 p.m., left both the customers and baristas amazed.
According to the Tampa Bay Tribune, a woman walked into a Florida Starbucks, ordered her drink, then asked to pay for the person behind her.
Little did the unidentified customer know what she had just triggered.
The person behind her volunteered to pay it forward, as did the next person. The St. Petersburg Starbucks employees eventually started a tally on a green laminated paper posted near the drive-through window, the Tribune reported.
Hours later, at 1:30 p.m., the chain was still intact. It had reached 260 customers.
One customer, Tim Burnside, 19, had visited earlier in the morning and returned to see if people were still paying it forward. The chain had not been broken and he ordered another drink, keeping it alive.
“It’s nice just to do a random act of kindness for someone you don’t know,” Burnside told the Tribune.
378 people later, the phenomenon was still going. Then entered customer 379.
The baristas informed the individual — a woman driving a white jeep — about what was going on and asked if she’d like to pay it forward. She declined and said she just wanted to pay for her $2.25 drink and wasn’t interested in picking up the next customer’s tab, the Tribune reported.
The barista told the Tribune it appeared the woman didn’t understand the concept of paying it forward.
Regardless, participants said the simple, unexpected act of kindness connected them to absolute strangers and had a positive impact on their day.
“It makes your day better, I think,” Lexie Kane, 17, told the Tribune.
A Starbucks spokesperson told TheBlaze that the employees were “definitely pleased with it and taken aback.”
“It’s something that organically happens in our stores from time to time,” Linda Mills said. “And, it’s always amazing to be a part of.”
This story has been updated.
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