Glen Oliver has made a habit of paying for the person behind him at Tim Hortons — it’s just what he does. And that simple act may have helped save a life. It all started with a letter sent to the editor of the Pickering News Advertiser in Ontario, Canada. The anonymous writer said that back on July 18, they were planning to die by suicide. That is, until they got a “sign” in the Tim Hortons line. They pulled up to pay at the drive thru when the they were told “The nice man already paid for it and he said to have a great day.”
… The author of the letter to the editor wrote: “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. I decided at that moment to change my plans for the day and do something nice for someone. I ended up helping a neighbor take groceries out of her car and into the house.”
… The Advertiser published excerpts from the letter, which is how Oliver’s wife saw it. They figured out by the timing, location, and wording that Oliver must’ve been the one to pay for the order. He’s been doing the little ritual for years.
Here is the letter to the edfitor as it appeared in print:
On any given day, one of my tasks is to process letters to the editor. It’s a job that keeps me busy as our readers are not shy about sharing their opinions. Keep them coming, I say!
It’s the newspaper’s policy not to publish letters without names. If you’re not willing to stand behind your opinion, we’re not willing to put it in print or online. It’s not often I get a letter without a name, but it does occur from time to time.
The other day, a letter crossed my desk that arrived by mail. It was well written and typed, but the letter writer did not include a name. Ordinarily, this type of letter would be spiked and sent to the recycling bin. But this one was different.
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.
“I had planned to end it all at home in my own little ritual and explain my thoughts in a note for anyone who cares,” they wrote.
Prior to this final act, however, a trip to Tim Hortons was in order for a coffee and a muffin. While in the drive-thru at Kingston and Glendale in Pickering the lady at the window told them, “The nice man already paid for it and he said to have a great day.” She was referring to the man in the SUV in front of them.
“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.”
Back at home, they began to sob uncontrollably.
“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.”
They explained every day since she has looked for ways to make someone’s life a little better, and, as a result, it has “enriched my life in more ways than I could’ve imagined.”
A coffee and muffin saved a life that day, and although I don’t know who the person was who sent me that letter, I feel better for telling the story.
Random acts of kindness do so much more than you think.
“To the nice man in the SUV … thank you from the bottom of my heart, and know your kind gesture has truly saved a life,” they said. “On July 18, 2017, I not only had a great day, I had the greatest day!”