Crucial Summer Question #1

13 Jun

My name is Dawn, and I have a drinking problem.


Even penguins think Sonic is cool.

I am a Diet Coke with Vanilla addict, and Sonic is my pusher.

There, I said it. I feel better, thanks.

But like most junkies and their dealers, we have a complicated relationship when it comes to money, and here’s where today’s crucial summer question comes in.

Do you tip at Sonic?

If so, how much? Do you go for the “just keep the change” approach? What about when you are paying with your debit card because you’re cashless? Do you swipe the card, smile at the carhop, and drive away in shame?

Oh, and what if the carhop is on skates for apparently the first time ever, and comes wildly careening out to your car and can’t stop so they dump an entire tray of Route 44 drinks right through the window and into your lap? Do you tip then? Because that has totally happened to me.

I need some answers, please. Get to commenting.

13 Responses to “Crucial Summer Question #1”

  1. Joe Ruiz (@joeruiz) June 13, 2012 at 3:11 pm #

    My rule of thumb (because I certainly deviate from it sometimes depending on how I feel/level of service) is dependent upon the roller skates.

    And I usually try to have a buck if it’s a debit payment, but I wonder just how much that’s screwed the carhops.

    • lettergirl June 13, 2012 at 3:39 pm #

      Joe, I feel debit-card guilt if I go and don’t tip. Like every third carhop gets the lucky $1 bonanza.

  2. NPJ Communications June 13, 2012 at 3:14 pm #

    I don’t think they expect it the same as typical waiters and waitresses, but it is a nice bonus. I was once that very uncoordinated Sonic carhop with no business holding a tray of five Route 44s on a tray while trying to learn how to skate. It was my high school job–about 15 years ago–and yes people tipped (especially that one time when said drinks ended up on the ground). And we appreciated it. Again, it wasn’t the kind of tips you get at sit down restaurants, but it was something. From the old lady who would call me back to her car to give me 10 pennies to a man who I believe had had too much to drink and gave me a $100 bill and everything in between. We kept our tips in a Sonic cup and counted it up at the end of the shift in delight. So today when I pull in to get my large diet cherry limeades, I always give about a dollar or two if I have it on me. They seem to be pretty happy about it.

    • lettergirl June 13, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

      Nancy — I am a great tipper at Olive Garden because of a college job there. I think everyone should have to work in a restaurant or fast-food establishment before they can eat in one!

  3. Vanessa June 13, 2012 at 3:31 pm #

    I have the same question about tipping!! Oh and my name is Vanessa and I have a drinking problem… I am a diet coke with cherry flavoring addict.

    • lettergirl June 13, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

      You’re among friends here. Go ahead, confess away.

  4. Jenny June 13, 2012 at 3:35 pm #

    I don’t tip at Sonic. *Hiding face in shame*. Ever. Heaven help me if one of my kids gets a job there 🙂

    • lettergirl June 13, 2012 at 3:41 pm #

      I’m praying for you. jk — I don’t think it’s required.

  5. Lisa Cole June 13, 2012 at 4:05 pm #

    I see Sonic ads on TV all the time, but alas, there are no locations near us. -This may be a good thing, given that a) I’m supposed to be giving up soda, artificial sweeteners and caffeine (I know, total suckage, right?), and b) I don’t really want a tray of soda dumped in my lap, but seeing a waitperson careening around on skates might be entertaining.

  6. Richard Oliver June 13, 2012 at 4:07 pm #

    I have often driven by Sonic, where cherry slushes call to me like beautiful sirens, because I don’t have cash with me. I feel awful when I get my order, see the plaintive look in the eyes of those weary carhops, and pull away leaving them as empty in pockets and souls.

    In the great sin-and-saint checklist of life, I know that leaving those kids without a tip nudges me one step closer to eternal damnation.

    And there, I worry, there will be no ice-cold cherry slushes.

    • lettergirl June 13, 2012 at 4:17 pm #

      This is quite profound. So, do you act out of goodness or guilt? Do you take the high road because it is the right way, or because you simply fear the flood of judgement would sweep you away on the low road? Either way, if not tipping at Sonic is the final act of evil that opens the trap door to hell, you can rest assured in this…

      … at least Jenny will be there already to soften your fall.

    • Lisa Marie Ivarra June 13, 2012 at 4:21 pm #

      I’m a “keep the change” patron. Hey, 45 cents is nearly enough to buy a scratch off! 😉

      & I’m partial to cherry limeades. Heaven help me. Their ice makes everything better!

  7. Sean Wood June 14, 2012 at 2:20 pm #

    I thank the Sweet Baby Jesus that I never worked in food service. My wife did, and has told me how hard it is. I have no doubt. So I always try to tip 20 percent EXCEPT at Jason’s Deli. There’s always a little tip line on the receipt and I’m thinking, “What am I tipping YOU for?”
    But you’re asking about Sonic. If I don’t have enough cash to leave a tip, I go debit and then give them the cash tip. I NEVER go to Sonic unless I have some cash for a tip. That’s just me.

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