What’s Wrong With People? Tipping In The COVID Age

The headlines couldn’t be any more clear…and at the same time, any vaguer. They can print what they will in bold sans serif, but it’s sans tip that speaks volumes to me and other gig workers when we see it.

What’s wrong with people? Honestly…can we have this discussion now or do we continue to sweep it under the rug? The gig worker is getting a good taste of what the pizza delivery drivers have always known…people are gunna human up.

Delivery drivers have always had the reputation as a negative, bitter, distrusting people; and it wouldn’t be a lie to say that there is a huge element of truth to that statement. And yes, I’m talking about the crusty, road-hardened veteran and the happy weekend warrior alike. Disparagement and cynicism are learned and earned in the business and I’ll tell you why.

“All they do is drive around in their car all night, get stoned, listen to music, and eat pizza. They don’t wait on tables, they don’t get me drinks, they just bring me my food. How hard can their job really be?” This is the ‘no-tip’ anthem for the customer who utilizes delivery but under-utilizes common sense. What’s wrong with people?

We do drive around all night or day and listen to the radio mainly on news or weather because that’s what makes (or breaks) our day. You see, it doesn’t rain or snow at your table, because you’re sitting in a controlled environment where little will happen outside the purview of the owner or manager.

As a customer ordering to your home, you likely won’t get a gun pulled on you in a bout of road rage; at the very least, you won’t get cussed out or almost be involved in an accident about 4 times a night. Hell, you can’t take a 30-minute drive to work without swearing off driving – much less spend 8 hours without the air conditioning on because you don’t want to burn out your vehicle.

You won’t get blamed for forgetting a coke that you didn’t order even though it was you that ordered online…you pressed (or not) those keys with your hands, not the driver.

Our tables are the houses; the neighborhoods – our seating sections. The server at your restaurant navigates a few hundred feet of a controlled environment to get to your table; the driver – miles of unpredictability to get to your house that you might have given the wrong address for…and if you didn’t, rest assured at least 3 customers that shift are going to – or already did.

Not to worry though, because we have your phone number… unless, of course, you gave us the wrong one…or failed to answer because you don’t answer calls from unfamiliar numbers because you’re so smart…just ask you.

Now, let’s just say that there are zero problems with your order, phone, address, traffic, computers or weather and we finally got that 6-year old that you thought could use a little practice placing an order at dinner rush on a busy, rainy Friday night off the phone. And we finally got to talk to an adult to finish the order.

Upon delivery, we were able to successfully navigate around the dog that you thought would be cute to test to see if he was a good guard dog (because that’s what everybody does-right?) and after all, he wouldn’t hurt a fly anyway (a fact the driver should know because ESP is a pre-qualifier for the job)…just like we know that 4 beware of dog signs all over the yard are there just because – and you get pissed because we sit in the driveway beeping the horn because…that pesky unfamiliar phone number again!

Let’s just say none of that happens and I make it to your door with no problem.

This is the part where I tell you it’s really okay that some of you take out the frustrations you had with any of the aforementioned issues.

This is where I tell you some of you are allowed to take out your bad trading day, poor choice of marriage partner, fact that you never wanted kids but have 3…or other poor life decisions on me.

What’s wrong with people?

This is where I tell you that I’m fine with the horny housewife tip (I still am, as long as she’s fit); I’m fine with your choice of style when it comes to your Brazilian wax job or with the way you cuss at your children or let the 6-year-old answer the door to a complete stranger.

And I’m sure Amy Vanderbilt has indicated proper etiquette of the drunk customer being acceptable only while receiving a late-night pizza delivery.

I can go on; from the guy who masturbated his way to his front door to receive his order to the fully unclothed, angry, crazy, drunken, and criminal huddled masses that have been recipients of my efforts through the years at providing sustenance. But truly – and sadly…nobody cares.

So to the chagrin of many UberEats, Grubhub, and Instacart driver, along with a host of reporting wishcasters I offer this solution; just stop the essentiality, the at-risk worker talk. It means nothing. It hasn’t, and won’t change people’s minds about the people that bring them their food.

Humans gunna human, and for all intents and purposes that means some gunna stiff no matter what.

But hey, after three weeks of the Covid19 scare I finally got an email from ONE of the platforms I gig for, asking me what type of equipment I would like to protect myself with.

I told them and they promised to get it to me as soon as they could. Meanwhile, the other platforms sent emails telling me how valuable I was and all…

I used to watch all those Turner Classic Movies where the men always wore fedoras, and smoked Chesterfields; they tipped the bellboy, the telegram guy, the room service guy, the flower delivery guy, and the corner newsstand guy. Life imitates art and the tip has now come full circle, to join the passe along with the Chesterfields and fedoras…

Brother, can you spare a mask? 

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