Would You Order Something More Expensive If You Knew A Stranger Would Pay For It?

Upon first reading, the tale of woe from a person who is upset at getting a free coffee from a stranger — because he would’ve ordered something way more elaborate and expensive if he knew he wouldn’t have to pay for it — makes my face feel like exploding into a thousand tiny pieces of rage. Each of those pieces is screaming, “YOU UNGRATEFUL PIECE OF HUMAN GARBAGE!” But let’s think about this.

Here’s what got us thinking about the kindness of strangers and the potential to take advantage of such goodwill: Some person wrote into a column called “Dear Crabby” a few weeks ago on the Yakima Herald’s site (h/t to Fark.com for finding it), all in a dither because he or she wanted more out of an act of kindness.

“So I’m at Starbucks and pretty much broke because it’s a couple days till payday, right? So instead of the grande extra-shot white-chocolate mocha double-whip I really want, when I get to the counter I order a short Pike Place with room,” writes the person, who I will reference as a guy just for easier reading.

Okay, frugality. We get it. But then he complains that the “perky Starbuckette” handed it to over and said that the customer in front of him paid for his drink. His response?

“What’s up with that? I mean, this nice, anonymous customer-benefactor obviously wanted me to be happy, which means a grande etc., not a stinkin’ short drip.”

What’s up with that?!?!? Tiny pieces of rage, exploding everywhere. He wanted to know if baristas should be required to tell customers before they order that their drink will be paid for, so they can get what they really want.

“That way nobody would get stuck with a little cup of plain coffee, which they wouldn’t even refill for free, btw.” Signed, Disappointed.

Crabby goes off on Disappointed pointing out that he or she should just be thankful someone did something so nice out of the kindness of their hearts. Maybe that nice stranger figured you would order what you did no matter what. But it made us wonder — who among us wouldn’t want a more expensive drink? Or maybe just a plain coffee is all you need in the first place, without all that extra shot super special and large latte nonsense.

Be honest:

Dear Crabby: Java jerk [Yakima Herald]

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  1. FusioptimaSX says:

    There’s no room to complain about free, unless it’s a contagious disease!

  2. theoriginalcatastrophegirl says:

    my mom taught me if someone else is paying for it, get the less expensive option and say thank you. if you want the upgrade, you cough up the cash.

    • nchiker says:


      • ConsumeristModeratorRoz says:

        [Note from moderator] ust a friendly reminder to please not post comments like “agreed”, “+1” etc. We consider this a junk comment – you need to add some of your own thoughts in a new comment. If your comment isn’t adding content that’s useful/interesting, you probably shouldn’t post it. Thanks!

    • ReverendTed57 says:

      Absolutely. I wasn’t “taught” this by anyone, but I’m generally going to avoid extravagant items if I know someone else is paying.

      For this person in particular:
      There’s the world where you walked in and bought your budget coffee, and then there’s the world where you walked in and bought your budget coffee and found out it was free. You’re living in the better of those two worlds. Enjoy it.

      But beyond that, complaining about it this way may actually sabotage future acts of kindness if generous folks start to question whether their kind actions will be appreciated.

  3. Cheapocabra says:

    I was honestly surprised by this self-righteous “complaint.” When a friend offers to buy lunch/dinner/whatever, I will always get what I would be willing to buy with my own money — which tends to be the cheaper option by default, because I’m a cheapskate. I thought that everyone felt that way. Heck, if I find out my friend plans to grab the bill, I will usually order less, not more. Why would you take advantage of a friend’s generosity? It’s just mean and selfish.

    In this case, you have a friend you haven’t been introduced to. That’s the only modification to the situation. It speaks volumes to this person’s character. I’m sure if the situation was reversed, this person would look askance at the attempt to take advantage of HIS money.

  4. C0Y0TY says:

    How would that work, anyway? Does the person in front stick around and pay the next person’s order? Do they pay ahead without knowing what the next order would be? What if the next person orders something more expensive than the benefactor accounted for? If the benefactor stuck around, did Human Garbage berate the person for making HG choose the size of the gift before knowing the gift was coming?