Paying It Backward
Eileen Taylor had something sweet on her mind in the drive-through line at Heav’nly Donuts. But it wasn’t a doughnut. Just the day before, a stranger ahead of her in line had generously paid for her coffee. “[The gesture] made such a big difference in my day,” says Eileen, 55. She had recently lost her job as a physician’s assistant, and money was tight. But Eileen was inspired to pick up the $12 tab of the family in the car behind hers.
What she didn’t know was that her kindness would go viral, and in a chain reaction, dozens of other drive-through patrons would be prompted to pay backward too. In two and a half hours, 55 drivers paid for the order of the person behind them in line.
The doughnut shop’s employees had seen this before. In fact, this Heav’nly Donuts, in Amesbury, Massachusetts, was known as a special place—manager Wendy Clement says her customers are the “best in the world.” But, even so, the workers were amazed when a 15th car pulled up to the window and the driver paid for the next patron—they knew then that they were on a streak. By the time the lines for the drive-through and at the counter were empty, the shop had more than doubled its previous record.
Photograph by Spencer HeyfronLater that day, Eileen swung back to pick up a coffee. Wendy told her what had happened. “Everyone was all aflutter,” says Eileen.
Now working again as a physician’s assistant, Eileen visits Heav’nly Donuts every Saturday morning, grabbing a coffee—and paying for the order of the customer behind her.
By Caitlin O’Connell