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What Starbucks Baristas Really Think When You 'Pay it Forward' at the Drive-Thru

Many Starbucks customers would likely agree that it's a sweet feeling when you roll up to the Starbucks drive-thru, order your favorite drink or snack, and then have the barista tell you that the person ahead of you already paid for your order. 


The tricky part comes when you're expected to keep the chain going by "paying it forward," and buying the drinks for the car behind you. 


According to the Starbucks subreddit, most Starbucks employees dislike it when customers pay it forward because it creates chaos and puts some customers in an awkward situation if they're unable (or unwilling) to pay for another customer's order.

Reddit user RoastYour described how a Starbucks employee "got pissy" after they ordered a small drink and declined to pick up the next person's tab. "What's the deal with this? It isn't paying it forward if I'm expected to pay for the person behind me," RoastYour said.


"Most of us are happy when someone cuts off the 'pay-it-forward chain,'" said jazzysoranio, whose avatar features the word supervisor next to a Starbucks cup. Jazzysoranio said it "was weird" for RoastYour's barista to seem annoyed that the customer refused to continue the chain.


Other Starbucks workers chimed in. Most said they omitted telling customers that their orders had been paid for and would just say something such as, "You're good to go, thanks." Redditor Danger_n000dle, whose comments feature a Starbucks barista icon, tries to "disincentivize people from paying" by waiting to tell customers that their orders were already paid for only after handing them everything, in the hope of discontinuing the chain. "It makes things confusing," Danger_n000dle said. 


The saying, "pay it forward," became popularized recently by the release of the 2000 movie of the same name. But its use dates back much further. It was first coined by Lily Hardy Hammond in her 1916 novel "In The Garden of Delight," according to Dictionary.com. In the book, Hardy wrote: “You don't pay love back; you pay it forward.” Sci-fi author Robert Heinlein was then credited for popularizing the term in his 1951 book "Between Planets."


The Redditors' comments suggest the next time you're in a Starbucks drive-thru, don't feel obligated to continue the pay-it-forward trend — even if you're feeling especially generous. "Instead of 'paying it forward,' please tip your baristas," Redditor twyg47 said. "Those people in line can afford their order." 


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