Pay it forward at NJ coffee shops? Former barista asks us to stop
We've heard the story on the air countless times. Customers are in line at Dunkin, Starbucks, or some other coffee shop. One well-intentioned person in an overly giving mood decides to pick up the tab for the person behind them in line.
The recipient, feeling like they must return the favor, does the same thing for the customer behind them. The chain begins as the peer pressure builds. No one wants to be "the one" to break the pattern of selflessness.
For as kind as the gesture is, many like myself may have never taken the cashier or barista's perspective of the random act of kindness into account.
One former longtime Starbucks employee took to Facebook to explain their side of things when these pay it forward chains start.
Hannah Wilson writes,
"I just wanted to say publicly as a former Starbucks barista of nearly 7 years, since the current employees can't say it:
Pay it forward is extremely annoying and makes everything confusing. It makes it easy to hand out the wrong drinks, and just sucks. Instead of paying for the people behind you, who can probably afford their own stuff since they're inline intending to pay, tip the people making your drinks who have been working understaffed for months.
Thank you for coming to my Ted talk."
I, for one, never stopped to think about how irritating it could be for the employees in these situations. Both parties are operating under an increased amount of pressure.
The customer doesn't want to come off looking like the selfish one, and the person ringing you up or making your order doesn't want to ruin the vibe by providing incorrect orders or giving the wrong change.
The former barista also makes a good point in regards to tipping, especially with so many establishments facing staffing shortages.
Yes, you could make the argument that places like coffee shops don't warrant tip jars because the workers make a decent wage, rather than depend on tips like your typical server or bartender.
But with so many businesses operating with skeleton crews, a few extra bucks in the tip jar this holiday season could go a long way.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 producer, writer, and host Joe Votruba. Any opinions expressed are his own.