In the fall, the only options for meals on campus were Paresky Commons food or oxygen, and to be honest, sometimes oxygen was my choice. This spring, however, I have ordered food more times than I am willing to admit, even to myself, and I know the same is true for many others on campus. Speaking to the other students at this school, however, I have realized that many of us only tip a dollar—or even less.
Many years before I was born, my mom waited at restaurants in Binghamton, New York, and Illinois. She often told stories about her appreciation for customers who tipped generously. I would not be surprised if some—if not all—of her tales were exaggerated. But because of those stories and my own experience growing up in the wealthy Bay Area, I have always tipped at least 25 percent. It shocks me when people just as privileged and wealthy as me do not impose the same rule upon themselves.
I am extremely lucky to have been born with the privileges I have, but also recognize that with privilege comes a responsibility to recognize I did nothing in particular to earn what I have. I have kind, understanding,wonderful parents who are wealthy enough that I never am forced to worry about money. That is not the case for everyone, even at this school. Many of us, however, have not ever needed to weigh need against want. Many of us don’t even order these delivery meals from our own pockets.
While we all hail from a wide range of backgrounds, the majority of this school is lucky beyond belief and rich beyond many could begin to imagine. Yet we joke that we are “too broke” to tip or that the server did nothing to earn any more money. For those of you who use this reasoning, let me ask: what did you do for the money you are using to order McDonald’s?
UberEats and other delivery service apps already pay their drivers close to nothing because they are registered as independent contractors rather than employees. In many cases, the driver handing us our Chipotle order earns even lower than minimum wage and drives no matter the weather to meet strangers during a pandemic to make a living. On top of that, as independent contractors, drivers receive no insurance benefits, no guaranteed wages, and are not protected under labor laws. In an interview with the New York Times, driver Edgar Usac stated that in four hours he earned $11. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.
I am where I am today because of the resources and support I have received throughout my life. Those of us rich enough to attend this school without financial aid, rich enough to order food nearly daily, and rich enough to ignore the price on that McFlurry owe it to ourselves to tip more than the minimum. Tipping should not be optional. The next time you open DoorDash, choose to tip more. We, safe and sound here on campus, owe at least that much to the drivers bringing us Taco Bell at any hour of the day.