Instacart is awesome.
If you guys haven’t been sending teenage boys to get your groceries, I highly recommend it. Heads up!

You only tip them ten bucks (or 5%) and they do all the work.
Its $10 for a 1 month subscription.

I have never found such a great value in my life.
I will never shop for my own groceries again as long as I live.
I am far too important for that, lol.

You can get anything delivered by teenagers.
Teenagers are fantastic. They are like mules that can shop.

OMG, you can get liquor delivered.


Here’s the discount food version of Instacart…

We use Instacart for one our local grocery stores, but usually tip 30% for deliveries. Although the idea is great, it turns into a form of serfdom, with grossly underpaid immigrants risking their lives. Same with salad.

Pre-pandemic, I ate at Just Salad 3 times a week, and now working from home, ordered out once a week, but started using Sweet Green, cheaper and more organic, but at one point I started researching the companies via Glassdoor. That changed everything. Just Salad, great. Seamless, great. Sweet Green, sweatshop. I switched back to buying directly from Just Salad, but rely on Seamless for some specialty items we can’t get otherwise, and usually leave a 30% tip.

It’s the least we can do, with so much suffering around, we certainly don’t want to abuse the less fortunate. Granted, we are lucky, my spouse retired with a pension, me working from home, and we don’t want to take advantage of others. Here in Manhattan, everything can be delivered, but relying on the intermediaries, while convenient, takes money away from struggling restaurants, so as often as possible we order directly, as well as tip generously.


I’ve been using City Market’s (a Kroger Brand) pickup service for years, even before the pandemic. It’s really great. It’s usually $5, but it’s been free through the pandemic. You can also use coupons in the app, so there was nearly always a coupon for free pickup before they started waiving the fee.

There’s always a little card attached to your receipt with your grocery picker’s name that explains they cannot accept tips, but the best way to reward them for good service is to fill out the customer survey and mention your grocery picker by name. It’s how they receive raises and promotions.

I love the substitution policy, too. If something you ordered is out of stock, you can allow them to substitute a similar item, and pay the lower cost. Which usually means I get a larger or more expensive item for the price of the store brand.

Being rural means it’s a 3 hour round-trip trip to the grocery store. We pretty much only do groceries when there are other chores to be done in town. After a long day of running around, getting to skip the grocery experience seems like a gift

Of course, there’s no such thing as home delivery when you live in the boondocks… Unless a friend or family member did the pickup for you while in town.

At one time, we lived in a 20-story building that had a grocery store in a section of the base, and I weekly lugged up 6 gallons-jugs of water, along with groceries, into our apartment on the 16th floor. We have an elevator but it was still a drudge, although certainly nothing like your trip.

Then, FreshDirect came to New York. Everything is ordered on line, delivered within a 2 hour window, the prices are often cheaper, since they don’t pay Manhattan rents, and the produce is better, since it isn’t left exposed and wilting for hours, or even days.

That was over 10 years ago, and we still use them, but since the pandemic we’ve had to supplement using other services, as there are shortages, or we have delivered what we once picked up.

I throw them cash tip in addition to the 5% because then they don’t get taxed on it during these difficult times. I dunno how instacart taxes their tips, but you are traditionally only required to declare 15% of tips.

Tips are good for teenagers (especially boys) because they get paid on performance. Tips are to ensure promptness and good performance. You shouldn’t tip them if they don’t do a good job. But, they always do a good job for me.

Instacart says that they don’t always pay base salary, though, so you need to know how it works in your local area. Some places they make $10 base hourly salary, plus 5% on the order in default tip. I’ll ask them next time they come. If they work when its busy, then they are making $20/hour…which is good for a teenager.

Thanks for raising the question, @JamesIgoe

I’ve heard the tips for performance stuff before, but hate it. The people doing this work are usually struggling. In NYC, they are not teens, often people that have families, but always struggling even more because of the pandemic. I usually provide a base 30% tip, regardless, but will give more for exceptional service, if I can. Cash tips are not easy, since I only carry a few hundred dollar bills for emergencies, and use Google Pay, credit cards, or apps for all my purchasing. It’s the same for wait staff and for cabs, even before the pandemic, although if it was a high-end restaurant, I might only tip 25%.


I agree that pandemic tips should be more generous. Its easy for me to put a $20 under their windshield wiper and still limit contact. I’ve only had teens and dudes in their very early twenties. It’s good to give those guys money because they spend it and it re-circulates throughout the economy.

But, I think feeling bad for people who make tips is often unnecessary & misplaced pity and can undermine quality of service. I do not tip for bad service. I know a lot of bartenders with law degrees who work nights because they can net 80,000 a year. I was a waitress for years during school and I have never made as much money as that in any professional job....even working at small stripmall restaurants - they need to be good restaurants because people don't tip where the food isn't good. But, I made WAY more as a waitress than as an EMT or a software dev.

Here the receipt for my last order for the standard 5% that is included (and likely taxed as standard income through the software, which is a bit of a ripoff in tip taxation, but I agree its more safe with less contact)…

The whole idea of tipping for service is damaging to the people that have those jobs, but yes, I don’t tip for bad service either, but then again, I don’t tip for service at all. I tip to supplement their wages. In some areas of the US it might not matter much, but NYC is so unequal, so expensive, it is unrealistic for most people to live here unless they make a very good pair of incomes.

But yes, If we are out to dinner, and we feel that the service was exceptional, we will give an extra 5% on top of the 25 to 30% we normally give, or in unusual circumstances, give extra money separately. BTW, these restaurants can cost serious money, at least by suburban standards.

Just to add, standard scheme for me, regardless of service

40% - Starbucks
30% - Cabs
25% - Restaurants (Higher-end)
30% - Restaurant (Lower-end)
Varied - Eating out at place like Just Salad, and depending on whether it was delivery…

As for the latter, I have tried to give tips to the people that prep my food, bt i only have the ability to pay the delivery fee.

Minneapolis has $15 minimum wage. I thought NY would be similar to MN.
It costs a million dollars a year to license a cab in NY, doesn’t it? Ahh, looks like they have dropped it down to $200,000. They do not make small amounts of money, as I understand it. They deal in big money.

Cooks and chefs get paid on salary, but waitresses frequently tip them out. Waitresses tip them out on speed and accuracy. If they aren’t fast, then they don’t don’t get tip sharing because that hurts the tip income. Thats how the front of the house gets leverage over the back of the house. The back of the house can become a frat house if left unmanaged. $ Helps the wait staff manage customer service.

I just warn you about the perils of perceiving your waitress as some low education, low resource worker. Girls that I went to high school with own apartment complexes from tip money. A friend of mine performs internationally and still bartends at a dive bar because it provides such reliable income when not touring. Restaurant work is not low wage. It is very competitive. They go through very rigorous interviewing. I don’t know any poor restaurant owners. If they aren’t making money, they don’t last the year.

Starbucks is a bad job with low income, paid similar to an ambulance driver. Taco Bell is a bad job. Its a ‘first’ job. Restaurant work is a profession.

Those restaurants in Minneapolis and St Paul in the ‘crappy’ neighborhoods damaged during the protests - some of those owners pay for all their waitresses to attend private college. That’s how they get the best staff and run successful restaurants. Food service is VERY competitive. I have NEVER seen a large company pay someone’s entire tuition. That would be very unusual. They simply do not make that kind of money.

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I really don’t want to go there - this is just a sinkhole of your personal experience against my personal experience - but I know better than to assume to much about wait staff, but often, one can tell the ones that are performers. I lived with a couple of performers for a while, both educated, both vocalists. They struggled back then, while they thought I was slumming in a recession. Eventually, like many performers and artists, they had to take their day jobs perm, and I went back to my corporate job. They got married, seem to be living happily.

As for cabbies in NYC, you should read about the taxi medallion scam and the suicides. It is not a joy ride, except for the bankers that scammed the cabbies. Uber and Lyft are no better, and when the economy suffers, the cabbies and the car services suffer even more. You might need to read up on who owns the medallions. They are not most cabbies, and use the medallion to rent out cabs to people making subsistence wages.

The idea that anyone is paying someone’s tuition for restaurant work is ludicrous, unless it was the owner’s children. If it exists, it is exceedingly rare. There are too many overqualified and underemployed people in Manhattan, and too few open restaurants for that to be true, even before the pandemic. As for hiring high quality staff, to paraphrase something I read a few years back, that “great restaurants require great inequality.” I don’y justify it, but poverty makes it easier to hire many people, many overqualified people.

BTW, $15 per hour in MN is great, but in NYC it would translate into a MN equivalent of $6 per hour (using Manhattan) or $10.50 an hour (using Queens):

He pays for all of his waitresses. He doesn’t have to do that. In the cheap hotel that I worked for, my boss paid for my buddy Chewy’s tuition to become a programmer.
What small businesses do is incredible. They make money and they can be great employers.

Things are different now than they used to be, James.

This really surprised me about blue collar work - When I was a janitor, many of us were far more educated than the teachers at the schools. We had to take rigorous exams because boilers are dangerous and operating a building is like operating a ship - think of how much mopping there is (its very physical), you need to make sure people don’t get Legionnaires disease from the air conditioning systems and that the boilers dont explode and kill everyone. I worked almost exclusively with marines and navy guys. Custodians make WAY more than teachers. People don’t realize that. They have old world stereotypes that aren’t valid anymore.

Younger people listen to what older people say because they dont have much else to go on. Boomers gave me a very backwards understanding of how the economy operates, so I want to be careful about that because disabilities can represent profound difficulty and expense for young people who are trying to support themselves. They deserve full information.

It is not the case that blue collar work pays less than white collar work, today. That is a very 1950s perspective. So, I just want to balance that out. There are programmers who will not hire people with college educations. I’ve been denied a lot of jobs because I was college educated. You need to know when you should not reveal that. There are also people who will not talk to you without a college education, so it goes both ways and its valuable to know who’s doing the hiring.

The restaurant owner who I refer to, majored in math in Ethiopia. So, he is very supportive of young people getting education. But, he’s also very upfront in telling students that we will never make the kind of money that he makes, unless we become surgeons. Its a practical reality. I’ve never worked for a restaurant owner who didn’t own multiple homes. I’m not sure how much restaurant work you have done, but restaurants typically make it and everyone makes a lot of money, or they flop immediately - its high risk, high reward. You get off like a fat rat if you get in somewhere established (meaning that the owner shows up everyday and has been in biz for more than around 3 years…the longer the better).

Teenagers have not been able to get those good jobs since I was a kid. If they can get in the door, now is the time. Those are the types of jobs that put you through college because they are part time and you make a lot of money. Tip jobs are an extraordinary backbone of the economy. People pay mortgages with tip money. I’ve worked with teenagers who supported their parents on tip money.

Interesting thread! There are some unscrupulous online delivery service employers who actually use the tip money to supplement their algorithm rates and the contract labor never sees the tip. Truly sad that a large multimillion dollar company would need to do that and some have even been brought forth in front of the courts but they still do. I always give a cash tip, because I know that the person doing the work is the one that’s actually going to get it

Yea, I think you want to be careful anytime you do something other than hand cash to your wait staff. It can get hairy when you involve the overreaching company because tips help people peruse work and dreams that are important to them.

This dude has tended bar (see red arrow in photo) in the neighborhood that got brought down during the protests for a very, very long time. That money supports him so that he can peruse work that is meaningful to him. Everyone in a restaurant or bar has side hustles. They are very entrepreneurial personalities.

All the people I mention here work within a 1 block radius of restaurants and bars in the neighborhood. There are tons of amazing people who wait on you in your crappy hood. I feel terrible about what happened to those places. It wasn’t even just the pandemic thats bringing them down, it was ensuing violence. There’s been a lot of violence in those neighborhoods since the pandemic started. Its forcing the city to shut down the neighborhoods. Those neighborhoods are the lifeblood of our city. Thats were people meet and collaborate and move money around and influence & support one another.

People in those neighborhoods call me personally to show up at their bar if they have a diabetic who is too drunk and they are concerned that he might have low blood sugar. Often, they are college students who just drank too much, but they like to be sure. Those are good, neighborhood establishments.

You are never gonna get those types of community benefits from Instacart, lol. But, you will also not get shot or get covid from instacart. So, instacart wins for the next couple more months.

i tipped my wife $15.00 to pick up my groceries. She threw cucumbers and cantaloupe at me. Now I need new windows and doors. oh an by the way she kept the $15.00 and told me about a lawyer here in town.

I think she should at least give me $7.30 back?


@Rphil2 :rofl:

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We obviously live in different worlds, you are citing your experience, living in Minneapolis, when I am talking about what I see through the world of reading and to a lesser degree experience, while living in Manhattan. Anyway…

  • Although corporations have moved to assessing skills and have broadened their range of acceptable educational backgrounds, the desirable roles often prefer a graduate degree. The exception you mention that rejects education is someone I would unlikely work for, let alone meet, and it doesn’t go both ways, since it is 98-2, pro education vs against, not 50-50, except for jobs that are likely low-paying.

  • Blue collar work can pay well, but does so less and less often. You can find exceptions for anything, but exceptions don’t disprove the rule, they reinforce it. Telling someone about the 5% that are exceptions still means that 95% is true, and although people can be swayed by the ‘yes, but I know’ type of argument, it is false unless understood as variation. Yes, things have changed, but they’ve gotten even worse for blue collar work, although white collar work is suffering as well, just not nearly as much.

  • As for janitors being smarter than teachers, I doubt that is true in most cases, or else there is parity/equivalence, but even then, you are overgeneralizing. I live in a large condominium, with at least 50 staff members, and unlike many, they have a union, so afforded protections and benefits. Only a handful are required to pass exams, and only those that get certification can do specialized work, like working on gas lines. The majority do not. Some are likely smarter, but not because of licensing, but because of the inherent inequality of New York. Many are immigrants, and because of how people come to this country, they are often overqualified. Same with cabbies, where they were professionals in their former country, but drive taxis for a living, although many can proudly tell you about the educational and vocational accomplishments of their children in this country.

  • As for any restauranteur paying for someone’s education, totally ludicrous in NY. You might know someone in Minneapolis, but I doubt it amounts to much, and here it would be near non-existent. Sure, good deeds get done, but the ‘economics’ of the labor market means that that is unheard of.

  • As for entrepreneurial spirit, not to discount the drive and ambition of the people with side-hustles, it is more often a euphemism for job instability. Yes, when one is young, one might have a side-business. I did, so while in college I made some money setting up computer systems for small businesses, while my real interest was getting a graduate medical degree. When one is older, a side-hustle can be used to transition into a second career or retirement, but again, it often means job instability, cobbling together different gigs to make enough money to live, although it can be more satisfying. Sure, there are exceptions, and there are people who dream of another, more fulfilling career, but…

The federal government minimum wage for servers is $2.31 per hour, plus enough tips to bring the wage up to $7.25 (but how is this enforced)? The states determine the minimum for their own state. Some states require the full local minimum wage (like California) and any tips are on top of that. Some states use the $2.31 per hour, like Utah. So I tip differently sometimes depending on what state I am in. In San Jose, the minimum wage is $15 per hour, with all tips on top of that. In Utah the requirement is $2.31 per hour, so I leave a much larger tip.
And BTW, a taxpayer is required to report all tip income to the IRS, whether the employer is aware of it or not. Of course, lots of servers don’t do this, I don’t blame them, but that is the law.

@mohe0001 - Funny thing today, I occasionally go through friends Facebook pages, and someone I knew only from plane fight - he was amazed at almost everything I said, so friended him - was making a comment lauding Walmart, writing that they were okay with him, since they were paying his tuition, as well as gave them a $300 Christmas bonus. I did probe a bit further, and although I don’t know the details, it is for computer technology at Purdue.

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I hope I do not see you on Divorce Court?