A Sonic drive-thru customer sparked a conversation about tipping culture in the United States when they were purportedly asked by an employee how much they wanted to tip on the purchase of a single soft pretzel.
Ray (@rayysw0rld) posted about her experience in a viral clip, expressing her shock at how any hourly employee would expect a gratuity for handing a single $2 item to a guest via the drive-thru. Numerous commenters chimed in with their own gripes about tipping expectations as well.
@rayyssw0rld #stitch with @$yd ♬ original sound – 💁🏼♀️
Ray’s video is a response to a fellow TikToker’s story about her experience at Ben & Jerry’s, where an employee was visibly upset that she didn’t tip after purchasing a single warm waffle cone (there was no ice cream in it).
“No because this really needs to be talked about now,” Ray begins in her stitched clip. “So I went to Sonic the other day as I was running errands and I ordered one soft pretzel twist. I think after tax, it was like $2 and 11 cents.”
She then prefaces by stating that she worked in the service industry for five years.
“So I tip like real f*cking hard when I got out to eat. I f*cking tip, OK. So don’t come at me in the comments with, ‘oh you cheap *ss.’ Yeah, shut the fuck up.”
Ray explains that when she was picking up her pretzel at the window, the Sonic employee asked how much she wanted to tip.
“I’m like, ‘What?’ He’s like, ‘Yeah we have to ask everybody this. It’s just something we have to do. I said, ‘Oh, nothing.’ You know? Trying to be nice, but I’m not tipping on a fucking soft pretzel in the Sonic Drive-Thru okay? What is going on? What is going on?”
She also gave further insight into the nature of the type of food service industry work she did in a caption for the clip: “As a former bartender/server, tipping has gotten out of control”
One commenter appeared to agree with Ray’s assessment of the situation, stating that employees who receive hourly pay rates shouldn’t expect a gratuity, and the only reason they tip restaurant servers is that the nature of their pay structure is fundamentally different than employees with a set hourly rate.
“The only reason we tip servers is because they don’t actually get a regular min wage,” they wrote. :Those fast food workers get a full hourly wage!”
Someone else couldn’t believe that the worker expected a tip in the drive-thru of all places. “Not the drive thru! The car hop MAYBE but the drive thru?!” they exclaimed.
“When I worked as a car hop we made a tip wage and not minimum wage,” another wrote. “But the drive through doesn’t make sense for a tip lol.”
There were other TikTokers who shared the unlikely situations they found themselves presented with a gratuity screen.
“Ok but also now EVERYTIME I buy merch (already overpriced) at a concert it gives a tip screen. Bc you handed me a $50 T-shirt?! Bffr,” one commenter said.
“But can we talk about the screens that have the percentage tip on them and the custom tip? What if you only want to tip $2?” another asked.
“Me: no tip INSTANTLY, when I know they get a paycheck,” a third added.
“Tips arent mandatory. Dont feel bad for not tipping nothing,” a further TikToker announced.
The Daily Dot has reached out to Sonic via email and Ray via TikTok comment for further information.