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Something funny happened on the way through the drive-thru

Drive thru difference letter - Life 97.3 FM Duluth

Here’s an actual photo of a letter that someone I work with received this week. She was just driving through the drive thru minding her business when the car in front of her paid for her coffee and egg sandwich, anonymously. It definitely brought a smile which I guess is the whole idea. Reminds me of that saying that was popular in the 90s: “Practice random acts of kindness and senseless beauty.” But it’s not random, at all. It’s called the “Drive Thru Difference” and I had heard about it being done as a consciousness raising campaign of KTIS-FM in the Twin Cities, and even read a blog about it awhile back. But apparently it’s happening in the Twin Ports with KTIS sister station KDNI-FM leading the way.

If you’re wondering about the mechanics of it (which I was), here’s a YouTube video of singer-songwriter Brandon Heath (who I really like) actually doing it at a Dunn Bros in the Twin Cities:

“>Brandon Heath Demonstrates the Drive-Thru Difference

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34 Comment(s)

  1. I’m not sure how long 97.3 has been talking about that program up here, but I do know there was an article about it in the UMD paper last school year. I think it was in the spring.

    It’s a cool idea. I’ve paid for someone’s breakfast and also had mine paid for, and both ways, it made my day.

    jessige | Nov 11, 2011 | New Comment
  2. Gotta admit there is a certain percentage of me that feels like this is a way for the radio station to get their listeners to pay for guerrilla advertising for them. I have heard of this happening sans any marketing, or other corporate tie-in, especially in coffee shop drive troughs.

    If you are going to do it, fantastic, you are a stand up dude/dudette, someone willing to brighten up somebody’s day, (someone once paid for my popcorn at the Free Range Film Festival) just leave off the advertising and everything is a-okay.

    edgeways | Nov 11, 2011 | New Comment
  3. “No gimmicks”? Gimmick.

    Paul Lundgren | Nov 11, 2011 | New Comment
  4. If it were me, I wouldn’t have said anything at all. Going out of your way to announce to the recipient of your “random” act of kindness is akin to patting yourself on the back. In my opinion, of course.

    zra | Nov 11, 2011 | New Comment
  5. Yeah, it’s a gimmick, I guess. I did say that it wasn’t random, no doubt it does have a “guerrilla marketing” aspect to it (not that there is anything wrong with that).

    It reminds me of a story that Herb Bergson once told when he was mayor. (Not to make this political) Anyway, he saw a kid walking through the Hillside on one of those 20-below winter days that we get without any mittens. So he said he pulled over and gave the kid his mittens -- a lot of us would do the same, I’m sure. But the twist in the story is that then he called up a Duluth radio station manager and asked if they could get mittens for kids. The station readily agreed, they went on the air with it and the next thing you know there are no more kids in Duluth without gloves … well, not exactly but you get the point. He was one person helping one kid, but you get the media involved, you get people talking and buzzing about it and maybe you can help a hundred or a thousand kids. So yeah, it’s not random, and people do have alternate motives or “gimmicks” maybe, but the basic idea is getting people to be good to strangers, try it out and see how it feels.

    wildgoose | Nov 11, 2011 | New Comment
  6. Herb Bergson is a very good person. I know this to be true.

    Vicarious | Nov 11, 2011 | New Comment
  7. It is good to get people in the habit of helping others, but people with cars about to get fast food are hardly the most needy people in Duluth. That makes it seem like a gimmick.

    One in Four children in the U.S., about 17 million children, go hungry on a daily basis. Even Al Roker says we need to fight this massive child hunger. With 17 million children going hungry in the U.S., Al Roker says it’s time to act

    CHUM is a good place to help people in Duluth.

    Sam | Nov 12, 2011 | New Comment
  8. If you’re so worried that it is a “gimmick” then take the 97.3 portion out of the letter and do the idea anyway. It’ll make someone else in life happy! What’s wrong with that?

    Bruce | Nov 12, 2011 | New Comment
  9. I reward it and thought “gimmick.” Seriously, how many people know the phone number of a radio station off the top of their head? Plus, who has the wherewithal to neatly write nice notes off the cuff like that? Looks like the note was written beforehand — I wonder how many other people have been getting the exact same kind of note lately?

    I once was on a business trip and eating dinner solo at a very pleasant cafe in Oswego, NY. When I asked for my bill, the server told me that it’d been paid for by someone who had then left the premises. Now, *that* was a true and classy random act of kindness by someone who wasn’t looking for attention.

    Claire | Nov 12, 2011 | New Comment
  10. Bruce, I don’t think people are arguing that no one should ever pay for someone’s coffee or drive-trough breakfast (Sam has an excellent point though), but rather if you have to write a note about it, and promote the radio station telling you to do it, it takes the edge off the act of kindness. Hell, for the cost of a coffee and egg sandwich the radio station now effectively has an ad on the front page of PDD. So it has worked out great for them. If the radio station wasn’t so cheap they’d pay for a bunch of coffee directly and hand out bumper stickers with the free coffee, that would be good, and honest, marketing.

    Here is my challenge, go out and pay for someone’s coffee, do it because you want to make someone’s day brighter, that is a worthy goal in of itself. No notes, no corporate tie-ins, just you, your money and a desire.

    edgeways | Nov 12, 2011 | New Comment
  11. This is dumb.

    adam | Nov 12, 2011 | New Comment
  12. Bruce — when I saw “97.3″ I didn’t think “gimmick,” I thought “I bet those fools think this makes up for shaming young ladies during what is surely one of the hardest days of their lives,” on the assumption that those Christian radio people are all pro-life and so forth.

    I wouldn’t know, though, as one of the few things more odious than pro-life politics is the music that Christian stations play.

    Mister Digits | Nov 12, 2011 | New Comment
  13. Only the lovely folks at PDD can take something nice, and slam it because the person who did it was promoting the radio station who gave them the idea. What is wrong with some of you? Do you always need to find something wrong with stuff? Someone got their meal paid for, and maybe because of that someone else will as well. A local station is getting some free publicity. Seems like everyone wins to me except the few individuals on here who have an issue with it.

    *I don’t listen to 97.3. I don’t know the parties involved. I just like watching PDD rip everything apart.

    Jadiaz | Nov 12, 2011 | New Comment
  14. No offense to anyone, but you would have to be pretty gullible to read that letter and not instantly realize the radio station was behind it.

    Of course, they’re a christian station, right? Makes sense that they’d expect you to fall for it.

    jimbob | Nov 12, 2011 | New Comment
  15. I called a bunch of people and told them about this post I made on PDD to be a good samaritan: I ran up to the car in the fast food line and handed them instructions on how to make their own egg sandwich (with local eggs) and the budget math involving buying made coffee vs. your own. And how people who say they don’t have the time are lying, because if time is money, well, you make the time.

    spy1 | Nov 12, 2011 | New Comment
  16. If my minivan, kids and a $30 order were behind them in line, would they “randomly” choose someone else?

    Beverly | Nov 12, 2011 | New Comment
  17. So it’s bad the station paid for someone else’s meal? What are we falling for? Being kind and hearing a stations name that I still won’t listen to? Wow, they got us, and especially that poor bastard who got free food. Also, had Wildgoose not posted it, this would have gotten one person. Those tricky bastards!

    Jadiaz | Nov 12, 2011 | New Comment
  18. No it is not just PDD that would rip these folks on the “no gimmick” practice. Because it is a form of deception Jadiaz. Perhaps you are cool with it, and that is fine, but there are plenty of people who do not like it when they are advertised to in sneaky ways. I am one of those and you obviously think I am a fool and/or an idiot.

    The station paying for peoples meals and letting them know straight-up “hey we are paying for this,” seems fine. Someone deciding to pay for the meal of the person behind them is cool. This? Whether it is the station outright paying for it and pretending it wasn’t them, or someone needing to spread the word in a carefully lettered self-congratulatory spam like note, blech.

    edgeways | Nov 12, 2011 | New Comment
  19. It’s obviously a gimmick with the station hoping to get some free advertising. That “note” in the picture is actually a flyer available on their website.

    That being said, if this is what it takes for people to start willingly giving to others, then I’m all for it. Maybe it is a little self-serving to make your presence known when doing this, but at least it gets the ball rolling. One would hope that someone would eventually start getting enough satisfaction by doing it without the pat on the back. Gotta start somewhere, though.

    Chad S | Nov 13, 2011 | New Comment
  20. Mister Digits, personally I hardly find the music “odious” but in fact I find it to be “delightful.”

    I totally agree with Chad S, who said: “at least it gets the ball rolling.” Random acts of kindness could be promoted here in Duluth — it wouldn’t hurt a darn thing and in fact might just make Duluth a better place to live.

    I would however add, as my final comment on this act of kindness: “But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.”

    Bruce | Nov 13, 2011 | New Comment
  21. If you like the music, Bruce, then by all means go wild. Although I couldn’t resist making a snarky comment up there, my actual objection is against the “Christian Right” and their politics, and this isn’t the place to discuss it.

    Mister Digits | Nov 13, 2011 | New Comment
  22. Another issue for another day.

    Bruce | Nov 13, 2011 | New Comment
  23. You got your capitalism in my Christianity…
    No, you got your Christianity in my capitalism…

    McJesus | Nov 13, 2011 | New Comment
  24. Edgeways, I never said that those against this are idiots, don’t say you know what I’m thinking. I also never said anyone was a fool. All I’m saying in my posts is people like you, and some of the others, would find fault if they were handed a hundred dollar bill in my opinion.

    No one was hurt here, the note never said it is a random act or suppose to be, it in fact very deliberately says this a push to start people doing acts like this. I say again, someone got their food paid for, if it were me, I’d read the note, crumple the note up, and eat my free food, not caring who paid for it, just thankful someone did.

    Would you complain Edgeways, if someone paid for your order and you received that note? Or would you be happy about a free meal?

    You made my point with your post, that for some people, they’ll find fault with anything.

    Jadiaz | Nov 13, 2011 | New Comment
  25. I love this idea and a note is not even necessary.

    francenestarr | Nov 13, 2011 | New Comment
  26. It’s great they are encouraging people to be generous to others. Not sure that buying unhealthy food for people about to buy their own unhealthy food is the best, but anyway … the problem is how the letter is written in a deceptive way, as noted above. “I heard 97.3 likes blah blah!!” Yeah, fuck if you did. Generosity is great, don’t ruin it by insulting my intelligence.

    jimbob | Nov 14, 2011 | New Comment
  27. The last time I bought a coffee and egg sandwich, it dripped all over me.

    Ramos | Nov 14, 2011 | New Comment
  28. It’s public theater, designed to get people thinking without giving away the answers, because hey, maybe there aren’t any answers.

    You know, I’m a Jesus-lover and I listen to the station sometimes. I’m still not sure if I think this “Drive Through Difference is a “good” idea or not, but it sure is interesting. My favorite thing is that, here at least, it sure got people talking about how to be neighborly while not appearing hypocritical. Impossible, since we’re all hypocrites but as many of you already stated, it’s a good start.

    wildgoose | Nov 14, 2011 | New Comment
  29. I had someone in the car ahead of me buy my breakfast one morning. All morning I drove to work wishing I could thank the person. Definitely made my morning!

    Rae | Nov 16, 2011 | New Comment
  30. Gotta love the book of Matthew.

    zra | Nov 16, 2011 | New Comment
  31. Oh… that explains a lot. OK.

    misto fries | Nov 17, 2011 | New Comment
  32. Timothy 2:11. Nice book.

    adam | Nov 17, 2011 | New Comment
  33. Don’t forget the Beatitudes.

    emmadogs | Nov 17, 2011 | New Comment
  34. Beatitudes should be the foundation on which people should actually treat each other.

    zra | Nov 17, 2011 | New Comment

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