The Price of Shame is Ten Bucks
A strange thing happened. It’s left me a bit flummoxed.
Yesterday, I had company over — family, not friends. And we ordered Chinese/Thai takeout. It’s the same place I always order from, and they make excellent food.
First, it took about two hours for the food to arrive. When I placed the order, I was given a 45-60 minute time frame. So far, so good. I ended up placing a call to check on the food and was told it was on its way.
No big deal. Shit happens.
Then, the delivery guy arrives with the food. It’s not the usual guy, but whatever. He brings the food. I have to sign the credit card receipt, and it was a little odd that he mentioned that I needed to leave a tip. I went to get a pen, and added a three dollar tip. Honestly, for a delivery, I don’t usually give a lot. It’s not the same thing as in-restaurant service. He read the receipt and looked at me.
Delivery Man (incredulous): Three dollars? For a tip? That’s it?
Me: I…okay, sorry about that. [I ended up giving a ten dollar tip. He still stared the receipt as he was leaving and then asked for directions on how to get back to the road he needed. Never mind the fact that his GPS was in the box of food, and I had to give it to him. He was leaving without it.]
Here’s the thing: I felt ashamed. I don’t know this guy. I’d never seen him before, but the tone he used got under my skin, somehow. I realize, of course, that it was on purpose. I was too flustered to properly assess the situation. I mean, really? Where does he get off? Now, I’m kind of pissed off.
When I go to a restaurant, if the service is good, I always leave an excellent tip. I never stiff a waitress or waiter. But for deliveries that take 15 minutes tops? A couple of bucks should do it.
I’m not angry enough to call and complain. If I wasn’t so embarrassed about it, I probably would’ve called earlier. But what was I going to say? “Your delivery man guilted me into giving him a bigger tip?” That sounds a little bit ridiculous.
I can be an easy mark. I never set out to cheat or hurt people. Did this stranger know that? Probably not. But it still stands as fact. Now, maybe, if it wasn’t a hectic day — and I didn’t have company — I would’ve reacted differently. I do know that if that happens again, I will.
But I wonder. What makes it okay to try and shame someone for, or into, something? Why is that proper and ok?
Shame and guilt. Some people use them as tools, as leverage (not the kind with Timothy Hutton, though. He’s lovely). This man did. And I let him. It is as much my fault (for being so silly) as it is his (for being an ass). Honestly, I’m sitting here mulling this scene over — and I still can’t believe it. I might as well have said, “Thank you, Sir — may I have another?”
It can’t be changed, I know. Next time, that won’t happen. Sometimes, that’s all we can hope for in life — that next time, we’re smarter. That next time, we aren’t caught off guard. That next time, our emotions don’t get in the way.
Those things, they happen often. Mostly, I’m okay with that. It’s part of making mistakes, being human, and being fallible. But this incident of minor proportions has made me wonder what else I’m carrying around. Mostly, I harbor guilt and shame over silly things. Like the time my psychology professor remarked about the fact that I walked to class with my lit professor: Why are you walking with him? People are going to think you don’t have any friends. Er, thanks.
There are things that I, perhaps, should felt guilty about — but don’t. Imperfect decisions, silly transgressions, and a terrible penchant for men with tattoos. But I don’t.
So why did I feel badly when this man shamed me? I don’t know. I don’t know the answer. There might not be a solid one. It could’ve just been a perfect storm of craziness and vulnerability. But I’m curious. Has something like this happened to you? Has someone made you feel inexplicably bad about something, someone who really shouldn’t affect you at all?
When’s the last time you uttered, “Did that REALLY just happen?”