Mystery Couple Starts "Magical" Chain Reaction

It started with one mystery couple in a Philadelphia diner.  Without leaving their name or number, they paid for not only their food, but a random stranger's breakfast.  This set off a chain reaction of generosity.

The manager on duty, Linda (who asked that I not mention her last name here, for reasons I can't get into but let's just say everything worked out okay...), tells me that a couple in their 30s paid their check at the register, then asked the cashier to let them secretly pay the check of another couple in the dining room - a couple they didn't know.

"They just wanted to do it," she said. "They thought it would be a nice thing to do."

When the unsuspecting patrons went to pay their check, they were floored to find out that strangers had picked up their tab. So they asked the cashier to let them pay another table's check, also anonymously.

When that table's patrons approached the register, they, too, decided to pay the favor forward for yet another table of unsuspecting strangers.

You know where this is going, right?

For two hours, delighted customer after delighted customer continued to pay the favor forward. And a buzz began to grow. Not among patrons, who had no inkling what was going down at the register, but among the dining-room wait staff - Marvin, Rosie, Jasmine and Lynn - and other Aramingo workers moving in and out of the room.

"We were amazed," says Linda, adding that neither she nor her staffers that day recognized any of the participating patrons as regulars. "Nobody knew each other. But once they found out someone paid their check, they got excited and wanted to do the same thing for another table."


From the Upcoming ueue, submitted by Geekazoid.

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if it were to be a true 'pay it forward', you would pay for 3 people's meals. the 1->3 paradigm causes the 'chain' to become a 'tree', so one person can't break it. and the longer it goes, the less probable it can 'die out'.
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@fnord: this kind of thing happens all the time on various scales; it's common on toll bridges, for instance.

And some things can just be kind of neat. They don't have to make sense on every level, like how it might be "better" to donate money to a shelter or how the literal math has most people paying basically what they would have paid anyway. There's something about the psychological process of being the recipient of generosity and then being inspired to exercise generosity to someone else. It feels good; it may make people feel connected to the rest of the human race moreso than they usually do, etc.

The impulse to poke holes in such a story says more about the poker than the phenomenon. What's the pay off there? Oh, continued smugness. Yay!!
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This also happened to me at a local drive through. I kept hearing the cars ahead of me honk and wondered what was going on - turns out they were honking and waving "thank you" to the car who'd just bought their breakfast. The girl at the window said it just happens every once in awhile and usually lasted for hours (until a car was the last in line).

Totally made my morning. You should try it sometime.
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Gail Pink: it's not a positive story if it's completely made up, is it? In fact, I'd say that making up silly stories to fool people who think life works like a TV sitcom plot is something the 'Downer Parade' would do.

Also, since when did expressing doubt over a dubious story equate to 'Hating'?
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