$170 order and not leaving a tip.

Millennial Fired For Tweet

Brendan O'Connor | July 30th, 2013

Until last week, I worked at a food truck downtown. We sold grilled cheese and milkshakes. One of the unusual things about this particular food service job was that the owner used customer comments and pictures on social media—especially Twitter and Instagram—to monitor his workers. Grilled cheese: gamified.

And it was explicitly framed as a game for workers. Members of whichever 'crew' got the most positive feedback on social media each month would win a $25 iTunes gift card.

But compliments are hard to track online. Even if a customer thinks she is paying a compliment online, she might not be. Like if you enjoyed your sandwich enough to Instagram it, but the color of the grilled bread wasn't exactly right, we’d hear about it.

Anyway. The other rainy Monday morning, business was slow when a group of about a dozen customers sprinted up. This was at our second location, a stall the company opened in South Street Seaport to support the area while Hurricane Sandy repairs were happening. This group placed a huge order: three of this sandwich, four of another, three of the one that takes forever on the grill, two of the one that takes forever to assemble. Five or six milkshakes. The order came to just under $170.

I was making sandwiches, another worker took the order and a third made the milkshakes and watched the grills. A line grew while we worked, and we had to tell other customers that their lunch orders would take longer than usual. They paid; I asked my co-worker who was dealing with the money how much of a tip they’d left. They had left actually no tip at all. (They had paid with a card so we checked the cash tips to see if there’d been a bump. There hadn’t.)

I asked some of the group as they were picking up their orders if they had intended to not tip. They hemmed and hawed and walked away.

Well. I could have not said anything. I could have made it a subtweet. I probably should have made it a subtweet. But I didn’t, because of some misguided notions about having "the courage of your convictions," or whatever.

Shout out to the good people of Glass, Lewis & Co. for placing a $170 order and not leaving a tip. @glasslewis

— Brendan O'Connor (@OConnorB_) July 22, 2013

Two days later, I got a text from the owner asking if I was free to talk on the phone at some point. We spoke later that afternoon.

He told me that he’d gotten a call from the company, Glass, Lewis & Co. The company provides shareholder advisory services. Apparently, those employees were mortified that their lunch truck had tip-shamed them—the home office in San Francisco even got involved.

And it was unfortunate but he was going to have to let me go. The company has a way of doing things and he thought I’d understood that. I had embarrassed him and the company and that was that.

The food truck apologized to the customers on Twitter, and Glass, Lewis accepted that apology.

@milktrucknyc We appreciate it, and look forward to doing business with you again!

— Glass Lewis & Co. (@GlassLewis) July 24, 2013

Obviously I knew it was a possibility that I’d get fired. I guess I had hoped that the owner would have my back if they complained, but that was a miscalculation. And the stakes weren't too high, or I wouldn't have done it: I'd been thinking about quitting and focussing on freelancing, so I had a luxury of speaking, and then tweeting, my mind.

What did I get out of this? Hmm. A "story," maybe. A lesson about employers—at least in the food service industry—and what they think of workers advocating for themselves.

To be fair, maybe I'm not the best employee for a gamified grilled cheese truck. About a month earlier, I’d come into work on a Saturday and was told I’d need to work late the next day. (Our schedules are established on a weekly basis, so this was very late notice.) I believed this gave me some degree of leverage. So I started bargaining. If they needed me to stay late on Sunday with only 24 hours notice, surely it was only fair that they let me go early that night?

They weren’t too happy about this and my bargaining failed—they just found someone else to work late on Sunday. I suppose this is why ‘collective bargaining’ is a thing.

The justice or injustice of tipping is a question again under hot debate; the incivility of failing to leave a tip on an order of that size, in the current arrangement of things, is not. There is a reason so many restaurants impose a mandatory tip on parties of a certain size.

And also: If social media is going to be used in one way to monitor worker productivity, why can it not also be used to advocate for a more civil exchange between worker and consumer? And why wouldn't a food service entity, while it's judging employees on social media, also judge its customers? The business practice of running a restaurant is to cultivate great customers and spurn bad ones.

At least I wasn’t asked to delete the tweet. And I wasn’t asked to apologize. Not that I would have done either of those things. I was just canned. A part-time food-truck worker with 300 Twitter followers managed to shame some Wall Street firm into getting him fired. What a world.

http://www.theawl.com/2013/07/millennial-fired-for-tweet

a server should NEVER ask someone if they intend to tip.

Thats a pretty fuckin cool article. Thanks op.

This is one of the problems with tipping.
WHEN do you tip?

Everyone tips at a restaurant (sit down place with table service)....but how many people tip at a "to go" place (like McDonald)

This was a food truck, so its order and go...no table service. So its closer to a fast food place than a restaurant. Phone Post

Did you get paid at least minimum wage or paid the 2.13 an hour like a server? Phone Post

Do you tip when u order from a fast food joint? I'm not up on food truck etiquette but I never tip for fast food. Never ordered 170 dollars worth either.

I tip when jobs intentionally pay less because assumed tipping. Otherwise if you're just handing out money. the only justification i can see for that would be you're rich and overly generous.

i dont tip for take out/take away food.

even for lunch wagon/food trucks.

tips are for services other than cooking the food.

for example after placing my order i go have seat to wait and when my food is ready you come out and hand it to me rather than i pick it up at the window.

ill tip for that.

otherwise youre not doing anything they dont do at Mcdonalds.

im a cook, btw.

So because the order was large, they should have tipped?

If 20 separate people came up and ordered $8.50 worth of food and none tipped, that would be ok?

I like how tip-shaming becomes advocating for ones self. Fuck this guy. Phone Post 3.0

What a fucking whiny faggot.  LOL

Shocking that this hipster with convictions but no common sense or skills can't keep a job in a food truck.

ill also tip if i feel like they really cared.

service with a smile.

happy interaction.

overall just a pleasant experience.

if theres a tip jar ill drop a dollar.

jkd_guy - 

This is one of the problems with tipping.
WHEN do you tip?

Everyone tips at a restaurant (sit down place with table service)....but how many people tip at a "to go" place (like McDonald)

This was a food truck, so its order and go...no table service. So its closer to a fast food place than a restaurant. Phone Post



I always thought it was pretty simple..



If you are being waited by a person whos job it is to serve you.. it is customary to tip.



 

As a European I don't understand the American tip culture.

you usually get a tip if you did something extra or superb services.
Not for doing your job that your employer pays you to do Phone Post

Delightone - 

As a European I don't understand the American tip culture.

you usually get a tip if you did something extra or superb services.
Not for doing your job that your employer pays you to do Phone Post


there is nothing to understand, it's completely illogical

So because you did your job well you felt like you should have been compensated for it? That is why the owner paid you in the first place. Feel like you deserve more, either ask for a raise or get a trade. But tip shaming someone who just put 170 bucks into your company is no way to be. Phone Post

If one of the downsides of the Internet is people being assholes because of anonymity on forums, message boards, etc, one of the upsides has to be the ability to let large groups of people know when someone is being an asshole in real life. Maybe it balances out?

jkd_guy - 

This is one of the problems with tipping.
WHEN do you tip?

Everyone tips at a restaurant (sit down place with table service)....but how many people tip at a "to go" place (like McDonald)

This was a food truck, so its order and go...no table service. So its closer to a fast food place than a restaurant. Phone Post



Was just going to say this.

I will tip at a restaurant/diner etc. Anyplace where I'm sitting and a waiter takes my order, refills my drink etc.

I will also tip the pizza delivery guy.


However I wouldn't think to tip a food cart or a food truck, just like I wouldn't think to tip at McDonalds.

For the dude to ask for a tip is kind of ballsy as well. As a consumer it is my choice to tip or not. People who don't tip at restaurants might be assholes, but it is within their right not to tip.

Making the dude out to be some sort of martyr is absurd. It's not like she refused to give up her seat on a bus in the 50s, the bitch sent a snarky tweet and got spanked for it, end of story.

rufus -

What a fucking whiny faggot.  LOL

Shocking that this hipster with convictions but no common sense or skills can't keep a job in a food truck.

Shut up bitch. Phone Post

rufus - 


What a fucking whiny faggot.  LOL



Shocking that this hipster with convictions but no common sense or skills can't keep a job in a food truck.


Where was he whining? You're putting a lot of personality on this guy that he hasn't shown lol. So he didn't care too much about his part time job working in the food service industry, big deal.


The real point of that the article is about social media forcing a sort of equality by publishing the good, and shitty things people do. He obviously doesn't care about getting fired lol.