Pay for the next person in line.


This is a easy and relatively inexpensive Random Act of Kindness that I’ve started to do lately.


As I go through a toll booth, I hand the collector an extra buck and pay for the car behind me.  I also do it when I’m entering state parks with a flat rate per car (usually $3 or so).   Next up:  Starbucks!


Obviously, this isn’t a habit I can indulge in all the time, but it’s a fun way to spread the love every now and then.  The person always looks so surprised.  🙂


Have you ever done this?  Or had it done for you?


Check out the rest of the Things I Need To Do More Often series here.



  • Anonymous September 8, 2009, 2:24 pm

    I've always wanted to do this, but unfortunately I usually forget…
    I've never had this happen to me, but I recall a time not so long ago that my Husband came home and said he had the greatest day! When I asked why he said that morning during his daily coffee drive thru at Tim Hortons the person in front of him had paid for his coffee! Such a simple and inexpensive random act made his whole day! 🙂
    Spread the love…and the coffee!

  • Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point September 8, 2009, 2:26 pm

    Nikki – aww that is really nice!!

  • Kat (Kat's Daily Plate) September 8, 2009, 2:26 pm

    That's such a nice thought- works especially well when you are driving/ in a car so you can do it anonymously. I will remember that next time I'm at a toll booth or something!

  • platipus329 September 8, 2009, 2:38 pm

    That's a great idea!

  • Kailey (SnackFace) September 8, 2009, 2:43 pm

    Wow, Caitlin, that is so sweet! I can't believe I've never done this. I'm ashamed. Must change that ASAP! Looks like I'm buying someone a drink at the bar tonight.

  • Nicci@NiftyEats September 8, 2009, 2:47 pm

    Wow, your so sweet. I try to give what change I have when in standing in line and the person infront is short. Are You going to add this your operation beautiful? I know i can spare a dollar and do this tomorrow. I go through a toll booth on my way to church every Wednesday!

  • Jess (Fit Chick in the City) September 8, 2009, 2:48 pm

    Caitlin! I love this!!! I know how it feels to be on the recieving end of this type of thing. Its an awesome way to let people know that there are kind and generous people in the world. I mean here in NY today a woman was suprised that I held the door open for her and let her go ahead of me at starbucks. These little things are huge! Thank you for being an encouragment to us all!

    I'm thinking that an Operation Beautiful message written on a dollar bill be the perfect thing to hand a homeless person. Thank you for the idea!

  • FatFitnessFood September 8, 2009, 2:52 pm

    Thanks for reminding me to do this more 🙂

  • katie September 8, 2009, 2:54 pm

    I love doing that with tollbooths. Another idea that is closely related to operation beautiful but not as anonymous is to compliment a stranger in person- whenever this happens to me I find I smile more that day when I think back! The other day I told the receptionist at the doctor that she had really pretty eyes and I could tell I made her smile- even if sometimes I feel a little creepy outright complimenting a stranger 🙂

  • Kathleen September 8, 2009, 2:55 pm

    I think that is so sweet. I am always surprised by the way that small things can change another person's day: something as small as holding the elevator or the door for someone with a smile can change their whole day.

  • Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point September 8, 2009, 2:55 pm

    katie – i love doing that! the other day i went into a restaurant and the same waitress was there that served me before. she had been so happy and nice the first time that the second time i told her that she had really made my day. i could tell she loved hearing that i remembered her for that reason!! made me feel good to say it, too.

  • Kelly September 8, 2009, 2:58 pm

    Caitlin you are such a generous person! Thank you so much for getting my Vitamin water the other day. That random act of kindness really does pick up someone's day. 🙂 Thank you again.

  • AbbyH September 8, 2009, 3:01 pm

    This has happened to me before at Starbucks. It was a very nice gesture that made my day. I thanked the lady many times as she paid for a drink for me and a friend.
    I have often wondered that if this is done in a drive thru with a line, how many cars back it would go? It would be a nice experiment to see if one person's good deed was contagious. 🙂

  • Kristin (Kristin's Nibbles) September 8, 2009, 3:12 pm

    What a sweet thing to do! Being a broke college student I rarely have more $ than what I need to spend on myself, but this sounds like a wonderful act of kindness I'll have to try next time I have some extra cash!


  • leslie September 8, 2009, 3:29 pm

    i love this series that you've started. and i love this idea. you have such a big, open, beautiful heart, caitlin.

  • teacherwoman September 8, 2009, 3:34 pm

    Every once and a while I will do this. Sometimes I get giftcards for Caribou/Starbucks and will buy one drink and leave the card with the cashier with instructions for the next person to use the remaining money… ranging from $2 – $6. It just gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling!

  • Erin September 8, 2009, 3:34 pm

    How sweet of you! I wish I had more friends like you. You are a really awesome person:-)

  • Tami September 8, 2009, 3:39 pm

    i paid for the person behind once at a toll, the person later passed me and give me the finger! i was so shocked! during to do a nice thing.

  • TanyaS September 8, 2009, 3:40 pm

    That is the best random act of kindness. I will let the person ahead of me use my "club card" in the grocery store if they don't have one. That way they get the discounts and I get the points. Its win-win.

  • Tyler September 8, 2009, 4:05 pm

    One of the local coffee shops here in MO has been doing this "Pay It Forward" thing for a few months now. It was on CNBC not too long ago. It's crazy how far a small gesture can go!

  • Anonymous September 8, 2009, 4:10 pm

    Can you believe that?! Pretty nice! Wish I could have been part of that!

  • haya September 8, 2009, 4:14 pm

    i love this series!!!!

    you are making us all better people, one tiny post at a time 😉

    i will remember this next time i'm out and about.

  • Megan @ Megzz Wins At Life September 8, 2009, 4:19 pm

    Caitlin.. you might be one of the kindest people on the earth! You are inspiring me to be a better person. I have never had this happen to me but I do take the subway in NYC everyday and walk by homeless people often.. I always walked by this one homeless women and during the holidays last year I baked her a loaf of pumpkin bread and gave her a 20 dollar gift card to starbucks.. I also often pack extra bars in my bag and when I walk by I hand them out or give them to people on the subway who are begging for money.

  • Taysa September 8, 2009, 4:21 pm

    I love that idea. I used to work at a Starbucks drive-thru, and sometimes people would do that. A couple of times it even started a chain reaction, so the customers just kept paying for the next person behind them. (It was always kind of funny to see who would stop the chain.)

  • Beth S. September 8, 2009, 4:22 pm

    My friends and I went to dinner before prom at an expensive restaurant…an anonymous person paid for all 8 of our dinners!!!

    Hopefully one day I can do this for a group of kids 😀

  • Danielle September 8, 2009, 4:31 pm

    I used to do this on the Turnpike when I would go home from college. It REALLY felt good! Thanks for reminding me to start doing it again 🙂

  • Jenna September 8, 2009, 4:32 pm

    aww that is so nice of you!

  • Jolene - EverydayFoodie September 8, 2009, 4:46 pm

    That is really nice of you Caitlin!

    We don't have toll booths anywhere near where I live, but I would definitely do this for someone if the opportunity came up!!

  • Lauren September 8, 2009, 4:59 pm

    These are such wonderful ideas! Wow, you never really think how one simple little act of kindness can truly change a person's entire prospective.

    You are a shining example of a selfless and inspiring young woman!

  • Paige@ Running Around Normal September 8, 2009, 5:40 pm

    Awe, what a sweet thing to do. I've done it before, but now I need to do it with a dolla bill rockin' the Operation Beautiful website on it 🙂

  • Barbara September 8, 2009, 5:40 pm

    People have done similar things for me and I always try to pay it forward somehow.

    I buy the local homeless guy breakfast and chat with him. I'll pay for someones coffee(if i remember).

    Kindness is such a wonderful thing to share!

    I love how big Operation Beautiful has gotten! It's amazing!


  • Running, kind of. September 8, 2009, 5:47 pm

    How nice! I always think about doing this as I stop to pay the toll to cross a local bridge but I hate paying it myself and to be honest it is 4 bucks! Ugh! Someday when my budget is not too tight I hope I can do this for others too!

    Love the series of Things I Need to Do More Often!

  • WholesomeFoodie September 8, 2009, 5:55 pm

    One word for your random acts of kindness, AWESOME!

  • Rosey Rebecca September 8, 2009, 6:05 pm

    Every year on Christmas, my family would drive to Queens to see my grandmother. It was a tradition to pay for the car behind us at the tolls. 🙂 It's such a nice feeling!

  • Therese September 8, 2009, 6:21 pm

    This seriously is the most wonderful random act of kindness! Like that guy trying to pay for my groceries when I forgot my debit card in Publix…so sweet!

    I need to Pay it forward more often also 🙂

  • Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point September 8, 2009, 6:22 pm

    I LOOOOOOOVED READING ALL YOUR STORIES!! they made me soooo happy!!!

  • Anonymous September 8, 2009, 6:24 pm

    While paying it forward is a good dead, destruction of legal tender is a federal crime and incurs costs to all American taxpayers. It's costing more than just that dollar you give up.

  • Anne September 8, 2009, 6:25 pm

    Caitlin–your blog is awesome! I've been reading it for several weeks after randomly finding it in a search for something else, and I have recently started my own ( Feel free to "steal" my recipe ideas. I will be posting about running as well. You have a great attitude about body image and health! Thanks for being a positive inspiration! (Plus, kudos for becoming vegetarian.)

  • mikey September 8, 2009, 6:42 pm

    i love this. and even though i don't have a lot of money, i get more joy out of spending a couple dollars on someone else than i ever could spending it on myself. way to go caitlin!

  • Lizzy September 8, 2009, 6:43 pm

    I really love this idea. I don't believe i've ever done this before, but making people smile and have something nice done for them is so amazing. I'm going to take charge and do this for someone asap! 🙂

    thanks caitlin!

  • Marisa (Trim The Fat) September 8, 2009, 7:00 pm

    I love doing that! It's so fun to see the people in the car behind you, completely FLOORED by the fact that someone did something like that!

  • Amy September 8, 2009, 7:20 pm

    I have to agree with Anon…writing all over money is not a good idea-sorry.

  • Mary Sailors September 8, 2009, 7:25 pm

    Cute new picture!!

  • Angie (Losing It and Loving It) September 8, 2009, 8:09 pm

    I have not done this but will definitely do it.

    I do RAK's though. Nothing big but the other day, I offered to take someone's shopping cart with mine back to the corral so they didn't have to.

  • tami September 8, 2009, 8:43 pm

    My husband and I always pay for the person behind us when we go over the bay bridge to san francisco. It's a tradition of ours

  • Nabeela September 8, 2009, 9:02 pm

    My husband recently had it done to him. He was standing in line to pay for dinner and the guy before him payed for five(five!) people behind him. Of course, the dinner was at a flat rate of five bucks…but still.

  • MoraPiggy September 8, 2009, 9:23 pm

    I've had someone pay for my coffee at Starbucks, so I paid for the coffee behind me. It's such an easy way to make someones day.

  • Taylor September 8, 2009, 9:41 pm

    Ahh I've always wanted to do that!! In a drive through or something like that.

  • Bula September 8, 2009, 10:43 pm

    Oooh! Love the idea. I can do this on the bus this week.

  • Thinspired September 9, 2009, 1:05 am

    How sweet are you?! Never done anything like this but I'm inspired 🙂

  • Maura September 9, 2009, 4:31 am

    I love doing this! My mom and I have been doing it for years and get a kick out of the other person's face every time!

  • Laura September 9, 2009, 4:40 am

    I haven't had it paid back yet but I do this the odd time at the Tim's drive thru. i feel all giggly when I do it…like Santa Claus. 🙂

  • kate September 9, 2009, 6:55 am

    My mom always used to do this when we were on long car trips as a family (pay for the person behind us). We used to get annoyed with her, because she'd stop to chat with the toll person about it. But really, it's such a nice thing that I wish I did more often too!

  • Jogger September 9, 2009, 7:20 am

    I do this all the time! Anytime I pass through a toll booth (and have the extra cash, of course), I always pay for the person behind me. Sometimes, I buy the person behind me lunch at the deli too. =) I've never been the recipient of one of these random acts of kindness, but I think karma will pay me back someday. =)

  • Anne Marie September 9, 2009, 7:50 am

    I've never done it nor had it done to me, but it's a great idea!

  • Ali September 9, 2009, 8:18 am

    That is so nice. I will have to try that. I have never had it happen to me, but my co-worker always brings me in treats and stuff when she gets cool new bars, granola or whatever. I think it is so sweet!

  • fromatopink September 9, 2009, 8:55 am

    I love this! And I do the same thing – when I was little my family started paying the toll on the Bay Bridge on our way to the beach, now I carry on the tradition.

  • seesaraheat September 9, 2009, 9:32 am

    One time at a restaurant celebrating a friend's birthday, a lady across the way saw us enjoying ourselves (we also had a very cute baby with us) and decided to pay for our entire table's dinner. She did so quietly and left before we knew about it. I still get chills thinking about that and how good it made me feel that someone out there is that generous. I want to do more things like that myself. Thanks for reminding me 🙂

  • Laura September 9, 2009, 12:12 pm

    I have heard of others Paying It Forward…..such a great idea, I can't afford to do it often but I think I might at my next toll visit! =)

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