Essential Worker Blues

You may not think you know me, but you do. I deliver your groceries.


I have a full-time job, but I need the extra money, so when I deliver to you on a weekday evening it’s after having put in a full day’s work elsewhere. If I’m delivering to you on a weekend, it means I’m probably working from 7:30 am until 7:30 pm, depending on the orders I’m able to take. This is gig work, so any order I deliver is thanks to my waking up at 2 am and staying awake however long it takes for the system to throw out the day’s available orders or camping out for the day in a grocery store parking lot staring at my phone to grab whatever batch pops up next.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not afraid of hard work. If I was, I wouldn’t have been living my life this way for the past year. Most of you are appreciative of the service I offer.

But a few of you are jerks.

Like those of you who place an order on an Instacart platform with a big fat tip so your order will be picked up immediately. And it is. You get first-class service and as close to everything you wanted as we can get these days. And then you go back into the platform and take back that fat tip… because you can. And there’s nothing that gig worker can do but suck it up and learn from the experience.

Some of you are tipping your delivery people well, but some of you aren’t tipping at all. You think you don’t have to tip us because we already get paid. But we are literally putting our lives on the line so you don’t have to. The least you could do is give up a few dollars for the privilege.

I have people be downright rude to me. One woman insisted she needed me to bring her groceries inside for her because she has a back injury, so I did. She thanked me for the effort by accusing me to my face of stealing her $17 pack of toilet paper. And when I left, she called the store I delivered from and told them I stole it too. They told her that’s highly unlikely because the store was sold out of toilet paper. Another customer yelled at me because he said he wanted his items left on the table, so I sat them on a table that was by the door. But no! He wanted them on the table INSIDE the door!

Look, I get that you’re stressed. But we are too, and we gig workers aren’t like those poor souls that have put up with your ass in a brick-and-mortar store because “the customer is always right.” We can choose to deliver to a particular address or not. You cheap bastards that don’t tip? You rude cows? We choose not to. I have a list of people I refuse to deliver to again. TP Lady and Table Man both made the list.

I have to say, though, it’s those of you that are thoughtless that hurt me the most. You want your groceries delivered and you ask for a no-contact delivery, then you run out the door as soon as I get there and are in my space before I have a chance to back up. If I wear a mask, you laugh at me. Just tonight I delivered to a woman that I’ve delivered to numerous times. I put on a mask because i know she cares for her elderly mother. And she came right out the house when I got there and laughed because I had a mask on.

I don’t even much wear a mask anymore. I used to, but the mask is to protect others, not me, and if you don’t care about me, why should I care about you? Just remember, though, you’re not the only one running up on me, so you’re going to be exposed to everything I’ve been exposed to both in the stores and at other homes. Caregiver that laughed at my mask? She was the third person to walk out the house on me today, and probably the 15th to do it to me since Sunday morning. I’m a walking roulette wheel of germs. Go ahead. Try your luck.

Personally, I’d prefer you stay your ass inside until I’m done unloading your groceries. No, I don’t need your help. Yes, I can carry a case of water or a 50 pound bag of dog food. No, I won’t say anything to you if you do help because I need the money and you’re probably the type to not tip me if I say anything. If the choice is between COVID for $7 and COVID for $20, I’ll take COVID for $20. And if you get sick? Oh well. I’ll just add you to the list.

I know what you’re thinking. I should be the bigger person and set an example. Nope. I’m tired. And I’m stressed. And I’m living and working in a Red County in a Red State where Trump’s word is golden and science is of the Devil. I will never teach these people anything, because you cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. I am in survival mode. The government doesn’t care about me. You don’t care about me. That leaves me to care about me, which leaves zero fucks in me to give to you. Don’t like it? Then stay inside until I’m done. Or go buy your own damn groceries.


14 thoughts on “Essential Worker Blues

  1. Dear Sweet Jen! I love and appreciate your friendship every single day and are sending you a virtual hug. Many people are in your same situation and I’m sure they share the discouragement and anger your excellent words have so perfectly expressed. One of the first things I loved about Tim 30+ years ago was that he’s a big tipper. You would definitely get one from us. And, as he often tells me when I’m having a particularly bad day, “Try and get through til tomorrow. Tomorrow may not be better, but it will be different.” xo

  2. The situation has brought out the best in some and the worst in others. I guess it depends which is nearest the top in any particular person.

  3. It’s so sad that strange times like these bring out the worst in people. You have my total respect,always have. They keep telling bus to be kind, Jen, don’t they. It works both ways, you deserve kindness and to be honest your tip, those people don’t. Don’t even think about them . I have a poster on my door, a rainbow, it’s says, Thank you Postie, Thank you Curriers, Thank you Amazon. We just can’t get any delivery slots for groceries…we would be so grateful if we could. We have to shop. Take care be brave you are amazing.

  4. Hubby and I have made a point to thank EVERYONE we come in contact with on the frontline for the service they are providing since the lockdown. We are lucky in that we can do our own shopping, but thank those on the door in all weathers keeping tabs on numbers going in and out. Tipping is rare here in the UK and we would not be in a position to anyway, BUT it costs nothing to say thank you, wish someone to keep safe, and appreciate what they are doing for us. So, I thank you from across the pond and wish the ignorant and ungrateful a nice day in trying to find reliable alternatives. Take care and keep safe Jen. ❤

  5. I’ve heard that about the tip. Rescinding it shouldn’t be allowed. If they don’t want to tip (and generously!) they should go buy their own damn stuff!

  6. I’m so sorry you are having to do this, and that you are encountering so much rudeness. There is no excuse for rudeness! I’m astonished, and sad, to learn of so much of it these days. I’m also astonished when people are against masks and other sensible precautions. Stay safe, Jen ❤

  7. So sorry you are experiencing this. I’m convince too many people in America think ‘freedom’ means not having to follow rules or be accountable. And that taking back a tip…jeez…talk about some kind of special nerve. WTH is wrong with people these days? That whole kumbaya thing you hear all over of “we’re all in the same boat” is a load of crap. We’re not in the same boat…we in the same storm, and people need to stop conflating their arrogant self-indulgent selves with everyone who works extra hard to make ends meet, not be their personal servant they won’t treat with respect. Stay safe and stay strong.

  8. Any worker who deals with “the public” has my sympathy. I taught grade school for 31 years, then took some part-time jobs in retirement. The fifth and sixth graders were much more mature and considerate.

  9. That is so awful that someone would do that. People can be jerks, that is why I prefer the company of cats instead.

  10. This infuriates me and breaks my heart at the same time, Jen. We are so grateful for you, and all of the people putting their lives on the line so we don’t have to. There is never, ever a good excuse for being rude, thoughtless, or ungrateful. XO

  11. You tell ’em Jen! We’d love to use Instacart but can’t ever get a time slot so we do our own shopping. When we get to the register, we don’t ever forget to thank the cashier for risking her life so we can risk our lives to shop. I think those Trumpers down there are idiots who don’t know any different. Keep being you and stay safe.

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