I get it. Spread a little love, do something nice, and make the world a little bit nicer. I’m all about those things, and I appreciate the effort, especially on a bleary-eyed Wednesday morning.

But think about what you’ve just done, for a moment. You paid for my entire purchase at Starbucks. The whole thing. With my son in the car, on the way to daycare, this includes:

  • A venti latte
  • A breakfast sandwich
  • A brownie
  • A chocolate milk

All tolled, this was about a $13 “pay it forward.” If I can afford to take my son to Starbucks on any random morning, as nice a gesture as you might think it is, you’re basically showering charity on a guy who clearly does not need it.

The whole “pay it forward” thing smacks of self-congratulatory nonsense, anyway. Wherever you happen to be in a drive thru, the person behind you is in a car, buying disposable luxury items like fast food. That may not seem like Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous to you – and it’s not – but you and they share at least some of the same good fortune of living in a very rich country. They’re at least in a comparable socio-economic strata as you.

So then, to whom are you providing comfort? Not anyone who needs it more than you. You’re not paying it forward. You’re just keeping your money within your own demographic group. Paying it sideways, you might say. Circle perks, if you prefer.

Why not take that same $13 and just leave it on a news paper machine on Monroe Ave? Someone there will get at least as much use out of it as a guy with a quarter million dollar house in Webster, wasting money on overpriced coffee. Maybe a kid will buy some Monster Energy Drink. Maybe a homeless guy will buy a bottle of booze. Doesn’t sound much like money well spent to you? Neither is buying me something I’m just going to pass in 24 hours or less.

Better yet, why not give that money to the Willow Domestic Violence Center, or the ABVI or hey! What about the Lollipop Farms Seniors-for-Seniors pet adoption program? Use your imagination, there’s lots of places you could be putting that money that will spread far more love than I will.

The point is: “paying it forward” isn’t really all that nice. And doing so at Starbucks is a special exercise in inefficacy. Yes, I got my food for free. No, I did not continue the cycle of silliness. You wasted your money. Just stop.