I have a program on a local radio station called INSPIRE, and have a different theme each week and interview different people who we find inspiring.
One week the theme was 'Paying it forward', and as we discussed this topic, the personal trainer who we have on the show for our Health & Fitness segment brought up the concept of 'Suspended Coffee'. He had recently moved down to Sydney from Queensland and told us that this idea was really taking off up North. It is where you can go into a cafe, and not only pay for your coffee, but for a suspended one. This goes on the tab as a credit, and is meant to be for someone who is homeless. They then can come into the cafe and ask if there are any suspended coffees available.
I loved the idea and thought that it should be available everywhere! Apparently the concept began in Naples, and has spread all over the world. Some places even do suspended meals.
I decided to come up with a project, to see if it could become popular in Sydney. I bought a lovely little journal, which I dubbed 'The Pay It Forward Journal', then went into a little community based cafe in Bankstown, Sydney. I ordered some lunch, after browsing the menu, and then enjoyed it on my own as I wrote in the journal.
Once I was done, I approached the cafe and spoke with the girl behind the counter. I asked her if she had heard of suspended coffees. She hadn't. So, I explained the concept to her, and handed over $15 (which I found after browsing the menu would be enough for a meal and a drink there) along with the journal. I told her that this money is for the next person who walks in and orders something, and asked that she also pass on the book to them.
In the journal I had explained the concept to the person who would be receiving the free meal and asked that they 'pay it forward' along with the book.
Someone did receive the book and the meal, and passed it forward. They also posted a picture of their meal to my radio program's Facebook page. And now the book is out there somewhere. The last I heard it had been paid forward to a rural fire brigade during the most recent fires.
I hope that it is still being passed around and making people smile. I remember the excitement that came over the girl's face who worked behind the counter. It's such a simple thing to do, which is so out of the norm, but could really make someone's day.
Why not try something similar yourself? Or at least the next time you go into a cafe, pay for a suspended coffee. If the person behind the counter hasn't heard of it, you could explain, and they just might get it started there.
I've been down on my luck many times and been very strapped for cash, but during this time have wanted to treat my daughter to a little afternoon tea at a cafe. The prices were crazy! And so I'd just get something small for her and sometimes not get anything for myself. It would have really made my day if when I approached the counter they told me that I had a few dollars on the tab thank you to a complete stranger.
I think it's such a lovely thing to do, doing something nice for someone you don't know, and not reaping any benefits from it.
So, if you can, pay this information forward and make someone's day! Who knows? One day this may just be the norm.