A woman has sparked a conversation about “pay it forward” gestures after she complained about feeling obligated to cover the $30 order for the person in line behind her at Starbucks.
Last week, Cody Katrina, who goes by the username @codykatrina on TikTok, uploaded a video to the app in which she described “paying it forward” as a “scam,” after she offered to pay for the person behind her in the Starbucks drive-thru after learning that the person in front of her had covered her order.
“To the person that paid for my Starbucks, very kind gesture, but f*** you,” Katrina said as she held up her cup of coffee. “My order was $10. And because you had to go and order for the person behind you, my anxiety ridden a** couldn’t be like: ‘Oh okay thanks bye,’ I had to pay for the person behind me. 30 dollars?!”
“Pay it forward is a SCAM,” Katrina concluded the TikTok, which she captioned: “We live in a toxic society.”
The video, which has since been viewed more than 2.1m times, prompted a debate in the comments, where many commenters said the blame falls on Katrina, not on the gesture, as she should have not paid for the person behind her if she didn’t want to or couldn’t afford to.
“That’s your fault… I have anxiety and accepted the kind gesture without paying for the person behind me,” one person commented. “It defeats the purpose.”
Another said: “Oh wow you’re mad because someone was trying to be a nice person? If you have $30 to spend, do it! If not, just say no. Don’t say being nice is a scam.”
Others said that, if they were in the same situation, they would have just paid for the cost of their own drink for the next person in line, rather than covering the entire cost of the other customer’s order.
“Wow, just put what your drink cost towards the next one and maybe don’t sound so ungrateful,” someone else wrote.
However, other viewers revealed that they have been in similar situations as a result of the pay it forward gesture, with one person writing that they once spent $30 at Taco Bell paying for the order behind them, while many TikTok users also commiserated with Katrina over the potential awkwardness or downsides of the situation and the feeling of obligation that can come with the chains.
“Exactly. Like I have the $30 to spend but I’m not going to. I can use it for other things. If they’re making a huge order, they can afford it,” another person commented, while another said: “It’s a nice idea but realistically not everyone wants someone to pay for their stuff or can afford to pay for more than they ordered.”
“Can we normalise saying thanks and going away?” someone else asked.
Interestingly, the video also prompted some restaurant employees to reveal that they actually do not like pay it forward chains, as they can make customers feel guilty and can lead to confusion at the register.
“I worked at Starbucks and didn’t care at all if someone didn’t keep the chain going,” one person commented. “I actually hated it. I never wanted to make someone feel guilty.”
Another person assured Katrina that she shouldn’t feel bad as “most workers actually hate pay it forward because it gets confusing”.
“So, never feel awkward about saying ‘thanks bye!’” they added.
However, according to Katrina, she never meant people to actually take her comments seriously, as she wrote in the comments section that she had meant the video as a “joke”.
“This is VERY clearly a joke. I was being dramatic for the joke, the caption is ‘we live in a toxic society,’ in what world is that serious?” she wrote.
The Independent has contacted Katrina for comment.