Tipping: A Window Into Your Soul
Like many people of late, I too periodically order food with my phone and have it delivered. Not long ago, when Karen was escorting her 20 ladies in Israel on her recent JWRP/Momentum trip, I was in the mood for a burger, didn’t feel like making one and ordered it from HBK, the local burger place in Hollywood.
The delivery company that was handling this important transaction was DoorDash. Never heard of them but then again, I don’t do this very often. When the breakdown for charges showed up, there was a nominal fee to DoorDash – something along the lines of the price for the service – and the opportunity to add a tip. I was a bit hesitant at first – not at tipping but doing it through DoorDash. I wondered if it really makes it to the guy. But, like so many of us these days, I didn’t have any cash on me so I added a few bucks for the tip.
The delivery fellow happened to be quite attentive. “Hi, it’s Jeremy” he texted, “sorry for the delay as HBK was running behind but I now have all your fresh food on board and I am heading your way.” He signed off with two emojis: fries and a thumbs up. Nice touch.
A few minutes later he again texted, informing me of a further delay because of traffic and that he will be there soon. “Not to worry though. Your food in being kept fresh for you with my catering bags.” And then he apologized again.
When he made it to my house for the delivery, smiling all the while, I asked him if he really does get the tip I made online. He was a bit vague in his answer. After he left, he again texted, thanked me for my patience and understanding, wished me a good evening, told me to enjoy and “God Bless”.
God, was this guy nice! I have known people for 20 years who haven’t given me as many well wishes as this fellow did in this one brief transaction. I wanted him to date my daughter.
A few days later my query about the tip and Jeremy’s vague response were solved when I read a piece on the front page of the Sunday New York Times. Reporter Andy Newman spent a few days being a food delivery guy on a bike in Manhattan. He described the grueling schedule for low pay and the customers who treat him poorly.
A lot of my deliveries were to fancy new glass towers that looked like the buildings in video games. The twentysomethings inside would barely crack the apartment door enough to take the bag of food, or maybe just mouth “thanks” without interrupting their phone call.
He also informs us that of the 43 deliveries he made during this reporting experiement, two-thirds of the people didn’t tip. Noting the innate class system we have in society where we pre-judge certain people more favourably than others based on their job, he quotes a friend who has been delivering food for three years: The class thing, Wilder said, could have a paradoxical effect on tips. People in public housing tipped consistently, he said, while students at N.Y.U., one of the nation’s priciest colleges, rarely did.
But the worst part of all this is that DoorDash doesn’t even let the delivery guy get his tip! Their system is that they guarantee a set fee to the driver beforehand, and if someone like me tips, the tip is swallowed up as part of that set fee. So let’s say they were going to guarantee Jeremy $6.25 for delivering my hamburger. I happen to tip him $4. So DoorDash only gave him $2.25. But had I not tipped Jeremy, then DoorDash would have paid the entire $6.25. So in essence I didn’t tip Jeremy but helped DoorDash’s bottom line.
Pretty sick, no? As one person tweeted in response to this policy: “I don’t believe that a single person intends to give a tip to a multibillion dollar venture-backed start-up. They are trying to tip the person who delivered their order.” Exactly.
The Torah spends so much time telling us to be sensitive to the widow, the orphan and the stranger “because you too were strangers in the land of Egypt”. But it is not just the widow and orphan. They are just prototypes of people who are in a disadvantaged situation. Time after time the Torah demands that we be sensitive to the needs of those who may not be in as fortunate a position in life that we may be blessed with.
Yeah, you can get away with squeezing or saving another dollar or two if you really want to by stiffing or cheaping-out the server, the car-wash guy or anyone else in the service industry that is trying to get by on minimum wage. But what does that do to your personality? What does that do to your soul? What damage does it do to your humanity? Give the guy an extra few bucks for crying out loud. It most likely won’t make a dent in your life, but it will make a world of difference to theirs.
I once wrote a piece for singles about different ways that they can fast-track their ability to know if someone is the right person to potentially spend the rest of their life with. One of those ways is how they treat a server:
How do they treat a server at a restaurant – and not a babe or hunk because everybody treats good-looking people nicely. If your date is considerate to the person who is seemingly in a lower socio-economic place, then you can see that they have a basic kindness and respect for all people regardless of their position. But if he or she is nice to you and other important people in their life, but is dismissive and abrupt with people like a server or the bag boy at the supermarket, then this is a serious red flag regarding the basic goodness of that person.
When all is said and done, how we treat the Jeremys that we encounter in life is a window into our soul. It shines a spotlight onto our humanity and whether we truly believe the Torah when it says that everyone is created in the image of God. Everyone, no matter who they are or what they do. How we treat the delivery person and whether we tip her or not is a simple test of the goodness in ourselves and in others. And please do as Mr. Newman advises at the end of article: “The next time you order takeout, do me a favor: Look your delivery worker in the eye. And don’t forget to tip – cash, please.”
They walk in and sit down,
With their mood of the day.
They read books over tea,
They give tips when they pay.
Well daylight is fadin’
While traders are tradin’
While the jukebox is playin’
The lovers are datin’
The waitress is waitin’…
For a thing to explode,
For a light to go on,
For some sign to show
Her time has yet to come.
She’s countin’ the days
Until real life arrives.
PS Because of the outcry against DoorDash after the Times article, they changed their policy. Thank you Andy Newman.