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The Long Version of My Paying it Forward Story

I recently had a fun "pay it forward" story, and hope it will inspire you, like it did to the random guy next to me.

On a Friday morning just before Memorial Day Weekend - a.k.a. the calm before the storm at the Jersey Shore, I decided to pack up my laptop and head to Ocean City, NJ for a quick meeting, and at the same time, pretend that the Starbucks on Asbury Ave. is my office. You know the deal, set up shop, and hunker down for a couple of hours to do some much needed work. This popular Jersey Shore town, is only 25 minutes away from my home, yet once you drive over the 9th Street bridge, it immediately feels like you're on vacation. No joke!

Anyway, I was on my way to the fancy Starbucks (well fancier than my local Starbucks), when I happened to see the Ocean City Coffee Co., while turning the corner, so I took a chance, and 86'd my plans for Starbucks. I certainly prefer the experience of a locally owned small business, just like my staple venue Barista's Coffee House in Linwood Central Square, but I'm just not fully familiar with my options in Ocean City.

WARNING: this story could probably be summed in in a few sentences, but whatever, I like to give details, so just hang with me.

Initially I put my laptop bag down on a red leather comfy looking chair, but knew that it wouldn't be an overall comfortable spot to set down the laptop. Plus, I'm used to the luxury of being near an outlet at Starbucks, or Barista's, so it almost deterred me from following through with my plan. But there was a nice leather couch off to the side, with a guy sitting there, laptop open on this longer wooden table, and he had headphones in, jamming to his music.

I didn't want to bother him, but I knew if I wanted to get anything done, I would need to sit there with that table. So I kindly approached him and asked if I could share the table, and sit opposite on a chair - and he kindly said yes. I sat on the chair for awhile, but kept eyeing the open part of the couch - next to the guy, because that would be my ultimate vibe - sitting on a couch with my laptop, and having the option to do work on my lap or table etc. And yea, I guess it could be considered being in his personal space since the rest of the cafe was open, and here I am wanting to sit next to another person, but whatever, it's a public space. I wound up moving next to him on the couch, and it was totally fine.

I need to digress for a minute, with regard to the public space point. There were two ladies sitting next to us in a high top table, talking sooooo loud. Which I'm sorry, it's just so rude, we are not in your living room. One was younger, and one older, and all they did was talk loud about work and life etc. I tried not to listen, but it was soooooo hard not to hear them - even with my headphones in! I'm all for catching up at a cafe, in fact that's pretty much where I catch up with all of my friends, but can you please have common courtesy for the people around you. SHEEEESH! Ok I feel better now.

Anyway, so here I am sitting next to this random dude. Both of us on laptops, but he's listening to music and reading this small book (it may have been a bible, but he was underlining a lot of things, so i'm not sure). And I see these three men in uniform outside the window about to enter. At first I thought they were parking authority, but then noticed they were all smiling - and from my experience with parking authority personnel, they rarely ever smile. They walked inside, and I realized that they were paramedics with AtlanticCare. One seemed like the boss, but either way, they all had the uniforms. And for so long, I've really wanted to buy a first responder a coffee or something, if I'm ever in a situation where I can do it. And it hasn't happened in this capacity, until this day. So I quickly run up to the register as the first guy ordered his coffee and was about to pay, and I said,"Hey I want to buy all of you your coffee's today." They were shocked. Especially since the one guy was already picking out a bag of fresh ground coffee. So I couldn't say sorry at this point haha! I'm like get whatever you want. And they were thrilled which made my day!

They leave with smiles, and I go back to editing my videos. All of a sudden I see the guy next to me jump up and head to the counter. But I don't think anything of it, until he gets back, looks at me and says, "You inspired me". I'm like what? Apparently there was someone at the register who ordered something for under $5 and the cafe does not accept credit cards for purchases under that amount. So the guy next to me, with his headphones in and all, heard what was happening and jumped up to pay cash for this customers order. It was so cool!

That literally made my whole day. And it really goes to show you that one act of kindness can inspire so many others. I'm glad he took action because of my action, and I truly wish more people would do the same.

I'll leave you with some great quotes:

“If you can't pay it back, pay it forward.” — Catherine Ryan Hyde

“It takes each of us to make a difference for all of us.” — Jackie Mutcheson

“Great opportunities to help others seldom come, but small ones surround us every day.” – Sally Koch

“We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill

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