Pay It Forward Train

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2024-02-28 20:00:10

November 29, 2020 was a terrible day. In need of some caffeine, I pulled into McDonald's and ordered a single black coffee. At the window the cashier refused my credit card. You see, there was a "Pay it Forward Train" going on and my order was already paid for. I was then posed the fateful question, "Would you like to pay for the person behind you?"

In a dazed state I inquired how much the next order was; after all I was only planning to spend less than $2. It was $45! Now I can be a bit of curmudgeon, but the idea of paying $45 to receive a coffee should be absurd to anyone. Worse, I couldn't even pay for my own order since the ticket was already closed. A true tragedy.

Sure, the person in front had charitably paid for me, but that wasn't kindness. It was chaos that left me deciding between paying $45 for a coffee or being the jerk who ended the train. I cursed the person who started this ridiculous concept and stole the light from the cashier's eyes as I ended her one ray of joy on an otherwise dreary Sunday morning.

A PiFT is just a lottery to see how much your food costs, and we all know the lottery is a fool's errands. Could this lottery be different? After all, there isn't a house setting odds. Can we build a model and discover an untapped arbitrage opportunity? At the very least, we should be able to set our expectations and be prepared in case we find ourselves in the abomination known as a "Pay it Forward Train".

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