Home > Don't make me hurt you, only slightly ranty, Random Musings > The Price of Shame is Ten Bucks

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.

And yet…true.

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?”

  1. September 30, 2011 at 9:38 am

    The only time you should ever do anything out of a sense of guilt or shame is if you know you did wrong, feel the sting of conviction over that wrong, and really want to put things right. There have been times when I’ve left a restaurant either leaving a small tip or no tip at all. I’ve felt bad because normally the service has been good and/or the food has been good. But the simple fact was I couldn’t afford to leave a big tip. I gave what I could. I’ve almost wanted to leave an apology note for the wait staff, or perhaps an IOU. I learned my lesson from those experiences and now always budget tip into any restaurant visit–especially since I discovered how much the wait staff depend on those tips. And I really object to that. I don’t want to give a tip because I feel obliged to, because if I don’t my waitress might go hungry since the restaurant refuses to pay them an adequate wage, relying on their patrons to supplement wages via “gratuities.” Restaurant guilt-trips. The worst.

    So, don’t feel badly about the $3 tip–if that was what you thought it was worth, then stick to it. Don’t let the guy guilt trip you into doing something you don’t feel guilty about. 🙂

  2. September 30, 2011 at 11:48 am

    I agree with Colin. Hey, it’s happened to me too. And, in this case, it sounds like it was the perfect storm (food was late, you had hungry visitors waiting, it was a different delivery guy). Shame on him for shaming you. That really was a jerk move . . . especially since he did not THANK you for altering the amount IN HIS FAVOR (quite generously so).

    I once had a telemarketer go ape-crazy when I politely declined to subscribe to whatever it was he was trying to pitch. He ranted and then hung up on me. Yes, The TELEMARKETER hung up on ME! Seriously? I’m sure he was simply frustrated because I was one of many negative responses (nos and hang-ups) but . . . really??

  3. October 27, 2011 at 10:15 am

    Honey, considering how late the delivery was, they should have given you the entire order free.

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