Dear Shipt Delivery Man,
I am writing to you here because I have no other way to contact you, and the guilt over what happened is a constant hum in my brain. Judgments are made over snapshots of events. But no story is complete without understanding the background, and in this case, the cultural background.
I grew up in a place where free delivery service was a given. My mother always tipped the delivery men, and I always made sure to do the same. It was a point of pride in our family. We always made sure to tip a dollar or two, and if we didn’t have cash on hand my mother would make note of it and give double the next time. We had our principles, and showing appreciation where appreciation was due was one of them.
Imagine my shock when I found out that my generous tips were not so generous after all.
Last week, I placed the Target order that you delivered. It was my first time using Shipt, and I couldn’t get over your service. You texted to make sure you had the right items, didn’t hesitate when I asked if I could add something and carried my groceries in. I was so very grateful, and after you left, I immediately went online to tip you.
I found it surprising that when the computer asked me to choose a tip, the lowest number they offered me was $7. I had paid $10 for delivery, and that was already more than I could afford. So I chose the “enter another amount” option and typed in the $2 I usually give, and wrote out a five-star review.
But it was bothering me. Why would they ask me to give such a large tip? I decided to see what the Sage of Sages, Google, had to say about it.
Turns out that considering that the order I had made was fairly large, my $2 tip was the equivalent of a slap in the face. And you had given me such stellar service, too. I was mortified. I tried logging back in, but because I was a one time customer I couldn’t. I tried texting you on the number that you had called me from previously, but it already been shut down. Imagine how you felt when after giving me such good service, you got a measly two dollar tip. Did you doubt my satisfaction with your service? And what did you think of me? Was I an embodiment of anti-semitic tropes in your eyes?
I honestly did not know that the expected tip amount was greater than what I used to give. In my insular Hasidic community, we have social norms that are more reminiscent of our Hungarian roots than of modern American society. In Hungary, the average tip for a delivery man is the equivalent of 75 cents. And most people I know do tip the deliveryman a dollar. But who would have guessed that my view of accepted social behavior was culturally different than that of American society at large?
When people stereotype Hasidic Jews as rude, could this cultural dissonance be the culprit of so many unintentional slights? Believe me when I say that I had absolutely no intention of being either rude of cheap. And I am sure the same can be said for many others.
I am planning on placing my next Target order with Shipt just so that I can make it up to you. But for the time being, the most I can do is to write this letter, hoping to bring awareness. Awareness to those who are ignorant of tipping etiquette, and awareness to those who confuse ignorance with hostility.
My sincerest apologies,
A Hasidic Woman in Monsey