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Darla A. Baker

Last Thursday, something incredible happened.

Starbucks, located on Tucker Boulevard, experienced a 45-car "Pay it Forward" movement. Think about that. The occupants of 45 cars decided to pay for the car behind them, regardless of price, with the first car paying for their own purchases in addition.

I, myself, have been the recipient of one pay it forward instance. Last summer, I was on my way to work and went through McDonald's for my usual cup of joe. When the clerk told me that the lovely woman in front of me paid for my coffee, I gave her an enthusiastic wave of my hand and yelled, "Thank you." She returned my wave and gave a quick beep of her horn before she pulled away. I could see her smiling in her rear view mirror as she went on her way.

Did I pay it forward in return? Yes, but in my own way.

Instead of paying for the car behind me, (let's be honest... I only had a $5 bill on me, and no telling what their total would be), I handed the bill to the clerk and told her that was for her, and to have a nice day. I left the restaurant smiling, the woman in front of me left smiling, and the clerk had tears in her eyes as I drove away.

Now that's my idea of paying it forward.

President Trump said in one of his recent press conferences that the weeks ahead of America are going to be "horrific." I believe him as I already find what the world is going through horrific, nevertheless what is to come.

And so I challenge Tehachapi ... the Land of Four Seasons, or what I like to call Compassionate Mountain: Let's make paying it forward the new norm, if and when we can.

If you are moved to pay for the coffee behind you, do so. But if you prefer, how about giving the drive-thru attendants a sizeable tip instead. They are there for us every day making sure we are fed or have our daily fix of espressos in spite of the extra risk they face contracting the virus.

Or, how about having them drop your change in the Ronald McDonald bucket? Having less contact with this change will mean less risk to you while the donation will mean everything to the families who turn to them for help.

Finally, if the whole paying it forward thing is really not your bag, but you still want to help, how about making a donation or contribution to the wonderful folks of Operation Gratitude or the Humanitarian Relief Facebook movement? Your money will stay local, and will help your neighbors who, in turn, may help you some day.

Regardless of whether you can make a monetary donation, everyone can make the most important donation: compassion.

Stay strong, stay kind, stay safe, but above all else, stay well.

Darla A. Baker is a reporter for Tehachapi News.