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Starbucks, Zhuhai has set an example

Written by Daniel Otero

Pay it forward, a concept as old as Ancient Greece


By: Daniel Otero



An idea first brought to light 23 centuries before in a play in Ancient Greece.  One which focused on a grouch paying a loan to a third party.  In other words, giving something to others, complete strangers to help them out without expecting anything in return.


But the phrase itself was popularized by Lily Hardy Hammond over 100 years ago.


The intention of paying it forward serves in contemporary times for helping the less fortunate.  But sometimes even in trying to do the right thing with money, those good intentions can get lost; especially when dealing with charities.


So here’s a sure fire way for paying it forward.


What I learned is to look around, not always get lost in myself with the book or phone.


I tell myself…  Paying it forward can begin with me.  Yes, only with me.  I’m the thread setter and the example for others to follow.  Therefore, so can you!


I first begin my day, especially when I’m having a rough one, by giving out a compliment.  Telling a person something nice.


My spouse usually will tell the security man in my building, “Well done!”


If he’s not at his desk and she wants to thank him for something generous he did for us, she will leave a treat: some food or a bottled drink.


Paying it forward is not about looking up or down on others.  It’s just to help ourselves in feeling better, even if our day is crappy.  Help those whom need to feel better about themselves.


Other ways of doing this action, is opening the door for a stranger.


On the metro, I usually will rise if I see an elderly person, pregnant or a woman with her child.  Those are ways, and they are random acts of kindness our world needs.


I’m not suggesting or saying, I’m the perfect man!  Far from it…  But I do believe the kindness we demonstrate towards others will be eventually reciprocated in one form or another.


In my life, I had my uncles and good friends pay it forward to me when I’ve been down and out with life.  Then, why not help others?


The price of this art, is to try and avoid at all cost from becoming self-centered or selfish.  In occasions with the pains of life, we often become bitter and want to retreat into our shells; therefore, we avoid people.  This is the worse thing we can do!


Doing one single good act for another can momentarily cure our pains and sufferings of life.  It can help us forget for a moment and understand how lucky we are.  And how in different instances, others may have it worse!


What I also used to do several years ago when I lived in the States, was help out the neighborhood bum.  I wouldn’t give him money, because he probably would have squandered it on alcohol or drugs.  Therefore, before work we would walk to the local Burger King, I’d go inside and buy him a meal.  Then off to work I went!


The best example which taught me recently the greatest lesson, was the barista from the Starbucks in Zhuhai.  As an act of kindness, he would enlarge Mr. Tong’s drink whenever he came into the coffee shop.  And the employee did this constantly.  Mr. Tong was so touched, that he paid for the drinks of 500 strangers.  Talk about paying it forward!  To date, that single action has spread and over 19,000 drinks have been paid forward already!


What a beautiful story and what better reciprocity!  It’s good for business and it continues to help others.  That’s the entire point!

About the author

Daniel Otero

A New Yorker who has been living in China for the past 10 years. He's a freelance writer/journalist and ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher.

A former member of the military with extensive travel to 50 countries and has lived in six.

Lover of life, good food, travel, writing and dealing with social issues.