After my seemingly week-long hiatus, I am back to the normal routine this morning– which is a welcome change!

I ran into an old friend on campus this morning — made my day. One of those people I’ll go 6 months without seeing and then randomly run into — and I’m pretty sure I could go 6 years without seeing him and he’d still run up and give me a bear hug and a familiar smile. There are so few from my class still in Fayetteville (me, Andrew, and Patrick Wilson, Jason Fechter…) - it’s fun to catch up.

So, question of the day. Is it appropriate to tip the carhops at Sonic?  Please leave comments with your opinions. My opinion is as follows: I do not generally tip at Sonic for the following reasons:

  • I typically order only a drink, or a drink and one food item – so the carhop doesn’t have to wrangle a lot of food on a tray.
  • I try to park in the absolute closest spot to the door – I don’t make them dodge traffic.
  • Most Sonics now have the outside card-reader, like at gas pumps. They charge the exact amount and don’t give you the option to leave a tip. (I bet the carhops hate those things.) But this does eliminate the counting of change and the two trips to the car to bring me my credit card slip to sign — MUCH less work for them.

EXCEPTION to these rules: I tip if it’s raining or if it’s really cold. For example, Friday morning after I dropped Jeff at work, I drove through Sonic to get a breakfast burrito and the poor girl came out in a parka with fur on it — it was literally freezing. And that particular Sonic doesn’t have the card-reader so she ran my card manually — I rounded my bill up to $10 because I felt bad for the girl. If I had gone this morning, no tip.

My friends Allison and Shorty think they’ve found a carhop-tipping loophole. They use the drivethru. They think you should absolutely always tip the carhop so they avoid it altogether by only using the drivethru. I think that’s cheating.


8 thoughts on “Tuesday February 20, 2007

  1. I knew a lot of Sonic carhops in my day, and I know for a fact that they get paid pretty well by the hour.  Waaaaay above minimum wage.  $7.75 a hour was a lot back in 2000.  They were all much richer than I was in high school, before tips.  So I, personally, never tip the carhop, just because taking food out to a car is the job description, and they’re very well compensated for that job.

    I’ve found a lot of the pressure to tip has been alleviated also by the addition of credit card machines to each menu.  When you pay with that thing, there are basically zero expectations to tip from the carhop.  In my experience, at least.

    But, you know, I may be a terrible person.

  2. No name for the baby yet. She is just affectionately referred to as “Baby”. For question of the day, my opinion differs from my practice as far as carhops go; I have a protocol for tipping that is merit/performance based, but I do not ever apply this to carhops. I, also, have heard that they do well enough on base pay to alleviate any guilt of not tipping. Since my tipping custom is merit based, I just forgo looking cheap by just giving them the mere $.40 that they have earned. I would rather look like an ass than cheap. Is that so wrong?? There’s your question for Wednesday.


  3. I always tip them for a few reasons:

    Erika’s first job was as a Sonic carhop, It’s just a buck here or there, you don’t really need spare change taking up space in your car’s ashtray, and will it really kill you to give some kid on rollerskates a buck or two for bringing your food or diet coke right to your window?

  4. I think I’m going to stay out of this one…

  5. Personally, no. Being a delivery driver, I am always very understanding towards individuals who work for tips, but not carhops. Walking 10 feet does not deserve financial compensation.

  6. It doesn’t matter how much they earn per hour….no one can ever make too much money….(except for maybe Oprah)..!!  I always tip the kids at Sonic….even when they spill my tater tots in my lap.  But when I order my SuperSonic #1, large fries, large tater tots, coney with onions and mustard, ham, egg and cheese sandwich, banana split, strawberry sundae, AND large DIET Coke…that’s alot of food to carry…!!!  So, I tip big…!!!  Even when I use my debit card, I always give a dollar…never more than a dollar though..!


  7. Tom – Erika txted me yesterday with her 2 cents (no pun intended). She said that the tips were a nice gesture, but that she never expected them. She said that the carhops sometimes prepare the food/drinks too. Bag it up and whatnot.

    I am so glad everyone participated in this discussion - I love that everyone has an opinion on this! Haha.

  8. I think keith is lying, he never tips!

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