Ethics of ordering delivery in a snowstorm
February 9, 2018 12:34 PM   Subscribe

I have enough food in the house, but I'd like to order delivery. Complication: we're in the middle of a snowstorm. Ethical or no?

I'm in the lower Michigan snowstorm. We're supposed to get a total of six inches, which doesn't seem earth-shattering to me, but a lot of people, including me, didn't go to work today and one local university closed - though one stayed open. (Part of my own issue with driving today was the possibility of having to shovel my car out after work, which I'm not really strong enough to do.) Some of the discussions of this online have stated that you shouldn't expect people to drive if you're not willing to, but I am a complete baby about driving in the snow, so what I'm personally willing to do doesn't seem a good way to assess this. Roads leading to my place are plowed. Restaurants are open and delivering, but just because somebody has to do a shitty job doesn't mean I want to be responsible for making them.
I've never been a delivery driver, so I don't know if people who do that would rather have deliveries to make if tips are good (does 15% plus $10 seem reasonable or should it be more?). Would especially love to hear from people who have been delivery drivers. If you think I'm a monster for even considering this, please be gentle.
posted by FencingGal to Food & Drink (22 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You're not a monster at all. Tip generously in recognition of the added degree of the difficulty for the driver and eat guilt-free.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 12:39 PM on February 9, 2018 [34 favorites]

Most of those delivery drivers are going to want your order. Reason? They're at work, at a lower-wage job. They probably NEED that paycheck. If there aren't enough orders, the business might decide to go ahead and close due to the weather. And that driver will get sent home and NOT get paid.

Go ahead and order. And give a generous tip, if you can afford it.
posted by stormyteal at 12:40 PM on February 9, 2018 [20 favorites]

As a pedestrian and transit user who often walks during snowstorms, one such perspective is - cars driving around (particularly those with time constraints) during bad conditions make it much slower and often much more dangerous to get where we need to go. Things like ambulances and police cars are also slowed by increased traffic during a storm.

I would much prefer it if you cooked dinner today and ordered takeout tomorrow (if your plan was the opposite, it's the same number of meals cooked in a 24 hour period) which will have the same impact on drivers and restaurants but without the added risk for everyone else.
posted by notorious medium at 12:41 PM on February 9, 2018 [2 favorites]

Delivery is a service. People are willing to provide this service. The delivery person's job IS harder, and possibly more dangerous in this kind of situation. So make it worth their while, and tip well. I would tip on the order of 20-25%.
posted by Bucket o' Heads at 12:41 PM on February 9, 2018 [10 favorites]

Does your local news have a report on current road conditions you could check before you make your decision? Do you live on a well-cleared road? Assuming traffic is moving ok, if slowly, and your particular area isn’t extra-messy, I think delivery is fine. I would definitely tip generously—I think you’re on the right track there.
posted by epj at 12:41 PM on February 9, 2018 [2 favorites]

I never did delivery myself but I did dispatch delivery drivers into Ithaca snowstorms in upstate NY. The drivers definitely preferred to actually take an order out into the snow and get a tip than stay in the shop and wash dishes or just do absolutely nothing.

You should be generous. 15% + $10 seems generous to me but I have no idea if you're up a hill or past a mountain overpass or whatever so take that into consideration.
posted by griphus at 12:43 PM on February 9, 2018 [6 favorites]

I think that delivery drivers don't fret so much about "are they making me deliver in this weather" so much as they care about whether you have reasonable expecations about delivering in this weather. Meaning, that you are patient if it takes the delivery guy a little longer than usual and you tip big, and aren't like "it took you TWENTY MINUTES to get here in this snow? what's wrong with you?" (Not that you would, but there are some jerks who do, and they just basically wouldn't want you to do that!).

That tip sounds fine.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:44 PM on February 9, 2018 [18 favorites]

When I take cabs in snowstorms or other terrible driving conditions. I'll double my usual tip. I figure it's got to be stressful, so it's nice to try to offset that with a little extra cash.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:59 PM on February 9, 2018 [2 favorites]

Former pizza driver here, cover your guilt in tips.
posted by rhizome at 1:08 PM on February 9, 2018 [19 favorites]

Just because somebody has to do an unsafe job doesn't mean I want to be responsible for making them.
posted by aniola at 1:21 PM on February 9, 2018 [2 favorites]

I know this issue is hard to get at but I boil it down to “is it objectively safe/unsafe”. Snowstorm? Could be fine, it’s Michigan, they may have snow tires, used to driving in the snow, they have enough info to make that decision, etc. Tornado? I can’t see a situation where the driver could go out safely at all. Rainstorm? I don’t care for thunder and lightening but that’s fine for them. Ice storm? Flooding? Nope, doesn’t matter how good of a driver they are, it’s probably not safe.
posted by raccoon409 at 1:25 PM on February 9, 2018 [2 favorites]

Leaving people without income because the weather's a bit bad isn't helpful. I assume that people who drive delivery are more confident drivers than I am, because I am an extremely nervous driver who was never capable of taking a delivery job, and make decisions accordingly--if nobody sane would be on the roads, don't do it. If it's just a bit dicey, tip extra. The whole point of paying for delivery is that I'm not willing to drive. I pay people for many services that I'm not willing to do. There are definitely points to not expect delivery, but it doesn't sound like you're in that position.

The only time I'd say, reading this, that you might reconsider is if you're in a position where you haven't been able to clear your driveway or somewhere else that it's safe for the driver to park, or you can't clear a path to your door and keep it relatively non-icy. I wouldn't say it needs to be completely snow-free, or anything, just in a position where someone in an ordinary compact car in regular street shoes can theoretically get in and out. You mention maybe not having been able to shovel your car out after work, so I just mention that as something to think about. You're probably fine.
posted by Sequence at 1:36 PM on February 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

As long as it's not, like, a literal snow emergency where the mayor/governor is on TV saying, "For the love of god, stay off the roads", just leave a bigger-than-usual tip.
posted by tobascodagama at 1:48 PM on February 9, 2018 [5 favorites]

i'm in kzoo. it's not that bad. exaggerated as always. order, and tip more than normal.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 1:57 PM on February 9, 2018

Ethical, but tip well and make sure that your walkway is shoveled and salted.
posted by Toddles at 2:46 PM on February 9, 2018 [3 favorites]

This article What Being a Bike Courier Taught Me About Our Broken Economy relates to delivery by bicycle, though I imagine that his observations about demand and how rarely they make a living wage are probably also applicable to those who drive for meal delivery services as well.

Basically the guy notes that on most days, most of the people doing the delivery service don't make very much money, but the day when they DO make lots of money is the hardest day to do their jobs - during snowstorms and other terrible weather:

"That the anxiety that accompanies the precarity can be suffocating and that the only time the money is even close to good is when the weather is so bad that going outside is akin to human sacrifice."

So... I think the others are right about making sure to tip very extremely well. There will be a lot of demand for them today between it being a Friday and there being a snowstorm. But really? Tip well always (if you can afford to/aren't living in a precarious wage situation yourself) because these delivery people aren't making very much money on any given day, EXCEPT when no one wants to go out.
posted by urbanlenny at 3:22 PM on February 9, 2018 [2 favorites]

I used to deliver pizzas and never really cared about the weather. But I lived in fear of the walk from car to the house, nobody ever shoveled/salted the walk or driveway. Carrying three pizzas and three bottles of soda doesn't help your balance.

Seconding the generous tip suggestion.
posted by Marky at 3:46 PM on February 9, 2018 [4 favorites]

Honestly, if I did this I'd tip like 50%. It's worth that much money to me to not have to drive in the snow. I really hate it.
posted by potrzebie at 3:49 PM on February 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

I would also consider WHAT you're ordering...maybe go with something that's fine in the fridge for a few days (like Chinese food) and order a bunch of it to cover you for a while in case the storm gets worse, and tip well. That way the driver gets paid and has less trips to make.
posted by sexyrobot at 4:00 PM on February 9, 2018 [3 favorites]

Thanks for all the thoughtful answers. It gave me a lot to think about. I ordered and tipped 50%.
posted by FencingGal at 5:00 PM on February 9, 2018 [13 favorites]

In foul and dangerous weather, the driver will make far fewer delivery runs and risks car damage, getting stuck, general misery. If the state police are saying "really dangerous conditions, Do Not Drive unless you Must" don't order takeout. Schools often close pretty often because of the risk to children in buses, so I wouldn't use them as a metric.
posted by theora55 at 5:43 PM on February 9, 2018

Former delivery driver. I LOVED bad weather. Not only were the tips better, but people were generally happier.

Plus, I really enjoy bad weather driving - and equipped my car for it; snow tires, chains, etc. I made bank in snowstorms, though, and that was a nice bonus.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:09 AM on February 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

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