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“I Deserve To Have A Free Sandwich”—Woman Defends Breaking Starbucks ‘Pay It Forward’ Chain

If you don’t know what it is, the pay it forward chain is when one person pays for the order of the person behind them. That next person does the same and on and on we go until someone breaks it.

A woman named Grace Brassel went viral for proudly declaring that she, indeed, broke that pay it forward chain.

She shared a TikTok, which now boasts almost 2 million views. In it, she explains:

“So today I went to the Starbucks drive-thru to get my little drink and sandwich, as a hot girl does. And I go to the barista to pay and he goes, ‘You don’t have to pay me today.’ And I’m like, ‘Tim! Stop messing with me. You always mess with me like this.’ And he’s like, ‘You don’t have to pay me. The person in front of me paid for your drink and food as a nice gesture.'”

gracejohanna / TikTok

“And I was like, ‘THIS IS AN EPIC DAY! Today is my best day ever. People are so kind. WOW!’ And then he drops this bomb — he says, ‘Yeah, so for every five people in front of you, they returned the gesture back.’ So you’re telling me that these people were shamed and caught into this congo line of morality that they had to give the gesture back? I’m not that girl. I deserve to have a good day. I deserve to have a free sandwich.”

“You’re not taking this away from me. That defeats the whole point of someone doing something nice for me. I am the one that was helped, and I am not helping anyone else. OK?”

I, uh, don’t know how to feel about this. I mean, on the one hand: sure, nobody should shame you into paying for anybody else. On the other… this also feels spoiled? I guess the issue I take with it is, ultimately, the “look at me!” style of TikTok afterward. 

BuzzFeed got in touch with Grace, who explained: “It had never happened to me before. I was really caught off guard because I felt like it was such a kind gesture, and I needed that kind of good luck to start off my day. I had a rush of emotions, thinking: Wow, people are awesome! Maybe I manifested this. This will make my day better!” 

But she didn’t care for the implication that she should continue the good deed. 

“Immediately I was bummed out because I wanted to embrace the free sweet-cream cold brew and spinach feta wrap and continue my day. I am not the kind of person afraid to admit they like free things. Some commenters were saying I was selfish because I accepted the gift that was literally given to me!”

Some people agreed with Grace, noting that they say “Aww, thanks!” and drive off. Baristas also dislike the practice, noting that sometimes it’s okay to indulge. 

And then THIS happens: “No be this happened to me once and the person behind me was $35. I had a $2 ice cream cone I PAID FOR IT.”

Grace pointed out to BuzzFeed that the question also rises of “how long does this go on.” Someone eventually breaks it, but you shouldn’t feel embarrassed into being kind or pressured into volunteering.

Okay — I agree there.