8 a.m., the day before the holiday. I pull into my local Starbucks and hurry in for a vital fuel up.
The shop's decked out for the holidays, but I don't take time to peruse any of it. I've got pre-holiday deadlines to worry about. So I'm a bit impatient waiting for the teen in line in front of me to order -- they clearly don't know the lingo to speed things up.
Order finally placed, I hover expectantly at the counter, waiting for my drink.
A distinguished looking older gentleman strides up to the counter beside me, waving a credit card. The surprised barista gives him a sideways look, indicating the line to order and pay is a few steps to the right.
I'm a bit annoyed that he's placed himself between me and my latte.
"No," he says, "I want to buy their drink. The next people in line in the drive thru."
For a moment I selfishly think perhaps I should have tackled the lengthy drive thru line -- maybe I'd have been that lucky next person in line.
Then I realize I'm witnessing the pay-it-forward concept in action.
A simple gesture. A way to acknowledge what one is thankful for and at the same time, spread a bit of unexpected holiday cheer.
Or, maybe even, help and a bit of hope.
He wasn't wearing the shirt -- but he certainly was living it.