For Glen Oliver, picking up the cost of a drive-thru order for the person behind him at his local coffee shop has become routine. However, that gesture, along with a friendly greeting, appears to have had a profound impact on a person during a desperate time.
According to a Nov. 9 column by Ian McMillan of the Pickering News Advertiser, the paper’s newsroom received an anonymous letter outlining an act of kindness that happened in July at a Tim Hortons near Liverpool and Kingston roads.
“The letter writer wrote about being in a bad place in July of this year, so bad in fact that they (I don’t know whether the author was a woman or man) intended to take their life. July 18 was going to be their last day,” McMillan wrote, noting the writer said they were going to “end it all at home in [their] own little ritual.”
While at the drive-thru, the letter writer recalled one of the store workers saying the man in front paid and to “have a great day.”
“I wondered why someone would buy coffee for a stranger for no reason. Why me? Why today? If I was a religious sort I would take this as a sign. This random act of kindness was directed at me on this day for a purpose,” the letter read, according to McMillan.
“I decided at that moment to change my plans for the day and do something nice for someone. I ended up helping a neighbour take groceries out of her car and into the house.”
The letter writer had a message for the person who paid for their order.
“Thank you from the bottom of my heart, and know your kind gesture has truly saved a life … On July 18, 2017, I not only had a great day, I had the greatest day!”
The man paying it forward was identified in a Nov. 30 column as Glen Oliver, a Pickering resident who read the first column after being alerted to it by his wife.
“I was blown away, blown away — couldn’t believe it,” Oliver told Global News when asked about the columns.
“You know for such a small thing, just a series of events that were set off from that point on … it just makes you feel great.”
Oliver said he first starting paying it forward years ago after seeing someone searching for change. He said he would pick up their tab, and now it has become a regular habit.
“It’s the least I can do for some people you know? It’s like holding the door,” Oliver said, adding he always asks the employee to tell the recipient to “have a great day.”
He said bills have ranged from the cost of a cup of coffee to up to $10. And while it might sound costly, Oliver said his habit simply makes him feel good.
“It’s exponential now, you know? Like such a small, insignificant thing to most people just turned out to be … the planets align for somebody.”
—With files from Tom Hayes and Kayla McLean
If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.
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