Why Is Miami So Mean? Pay It Forward at the Starbucks Drive-Thru

Categories: Blogger's Bout

starbucks-pay-it-forward.jpg
Photo by Hannah Sentenac
Paying it forward (in addition to being the title of a flick starring the creepy kid who sees dead people and Helen Hunt as a less-than-believable strip club waitress) is a thing people actually do. Basically, it's when one human does a good deed for another, and the recipient then passes the kindness along to someone else, thus spreading the concept as far and wide as possible.

One common way to pay it forward is by buying for the person behind you in the drive-thru. And in towns across the country, people have started pay-it-forward chain reactions that have gone on for hours -- even days. In Detroit recently, a Starbucks made the news when more than 50 people paid it forward. But what about Miami? Do we have the spirit of giving in us?

See also: KIND Snacks Encourages Kind Acts With Community Mural During Art Basel

I'm a fan of the pay-it-forward concept and try to do it as often as I can. It's certainly a semiselfish move on my part, given that it totally makes my day as much (or more than) the other person's. There's just something about surprising someone in a happy way. I freaking love it.

But here in Miami, I've gotten some reactions that make me question the way we're treating each other on the regular.

Once, at a Starbucks drive-thru, the cashier was shocked. Pleasantly so. "You're doing that HERE?" He regaled me with tales of irate customers (given the location's awkward and often congested spot on U.S. 1) and the time he saw one car rear-end another in line.

Another time, the lady I bought coffee for began crying. She told me she'd started an organization designed to spread acts of kindness. The idea was that she'd give people wristbands when she saw them doing something nice. She stopped carrying them around, however, because she almost never saw kind gestures in South Florida.

Sad.

It's no secret that Miamians aren't the friendliest folks, but the real question is, Why? Why do so many of us seem unhappy when we live in a tropical paradise? Shouldn't Miami top the list of the nation's happiest cities? (It doesn't.) Why do we have to be assholes to one another? I get it -- I'm not always nice either, particularly when the roads are a hideous highway to Hell or I have a run-in with a douchebag. But I do try to fight the unfriendly in favor of the alternative.

This is a bigger issue than buying someone a cup of coffee. It's about our fundamental attitude as a city, and especially toward one another. There's no question we could be nicer, gentler, and more open to the people around us. Spend five minutes in traffic and that becomes painfully clear.

Everyone complains about the rude drivers, the discourteous shoppers, the thoughtless waiters -- but we all have to be a part of the solution. The smallest gestures, when paid forward, can make a big difference.

So I want to issue a challenge to my fellow Miamians. Pay it forward at least once this week -- in the Starbucks line, at the grocery store, in traffic. Buy someone a cup of coffee, let someone in at a red light, give a homeless dude a few bucks. And tell us about it. If it costs only $5 to make someone's day, isn't it worth it?

I'm sick of hearing about how rude and unfriendly Miami is. There are wonderful people here, and we can all be nicer to one another. It's gotta start somewhere. Why not with you and me and an eggnog latte?

Follow Hannah on Twitter @hannahalexs.

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10 comments
Phil Ramirez
Phil Ramirez

Miami and its infamous "Tocame La Ping@" attitude...

Ari Kane
Ari Kane

Such a beautiful notion and article. Thank you!

Kelly Rodriguez
Kelly Rodriguez

I live in Miami and recently was at Starbucks. The guy in front of me wanted to purchase a reusable coffee cup which happened to be behind me, so I handed it to him...his response was,"Thanks, now do I need to tip you too?" REALLY???

Veronica Maher
Veronica Maher

Great idea. I'm def going to pay it forward tomorrow. Thanks for the reminder!

veronicamaher
veronicamaher

Great idea. I'm def going to pay it forward tomorrow. Thanks for the reminder.

veronicamaher
veronicamaher

This article made me smile. I'm def going to pay it forward tomorrow!

SrShwa
SrShwa

Moved here recently (and don't regret it!) I can see how this place will make you cold and bitter despite the paradise its supposed to be. (Any major city will do that to a degree to be fair). But the hot-headed, overly-dramatic , mega macho and typically Latino outbursts is something I've never seen back home in Latin America or anywhere. And dear gawd the driving will raise anyone's blood pressure. But you have to be the change you want to see. It all starts with you, not other people. Keep it chill ya'll.

Ismael Antonio Sanabria
Ismael Antonio Sanabria

Mean people in Miami? ?? Nooo way. Assholes and fakes and snotty ass people here. Especially Latin people. Sad. I am Latino and I see how yous act down here. Smh

Happy Someone
Happy Someone

It's nice to see other people in Miami paying it forward! Thank you for being a Happy Someone :)

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