Paying it forward one latte at a time

Jaimie Sullivan works at the drive-thru window at Starbucks on Hwy 6&50 at 25 Road. A line of 21 car paid for the next car’s coffee

It was a long line at the Starbucks Coffee shop off 25 Road, but it was a charitable one.

The string of 21 drivers outside 2504 U.S. Highway 6&50, Suite 100, on March 1 caught coffee-maker Jaimie Sullivan by surprise.

Each driver offered to pay for the order placed by the person in the car behind.

The cycle continued, according to Sullivan, until an elderly lady declined but accepted her free cup of coffee with a smile and a thank you.

“Especially in this economy, I didn’t think people had that much money right now,” the 18-year-old Sullivan said.

None of the drivers appeared to know who was on the receiving end of the generosity.

“They just did it,” Sullivan said. “They would just offer.”

To be fair, Sullivan said she was working the drive-through window on March 1 with another girl, Brittini. Sullivan made the drinks and Brittini worked the register.

Brittini asked the first driver about paying for the next. From there, it just snowballed.

“I just loved their reaction (when she handed them a free cup of coffee), they said: ‘Why?’ ” Sullivan said.

When she got home that day, Sullivan told her mother about the charity of others.

“When she told me, it just made me feel really good about people,” Brenda Sullivan said.

One order jumped above $20. The lone driver offered to pay the lion’s share of the order — for the car behind — but was unwilling to pay it in full.

Four Starbucks employees chipped in to keep the streak going.

It was not the first time a driver has offered to pay the tab for the car following, but it has never gone on for more than 20 vehicles, Jaimie Sullivan said.

“I have asked them before, ‘Do you know the person behind you?’ and they say, ‘No, I just feel like it,’ ” she said.


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