Apr 28, 2008

The Secret Lives of Restaurant Food Delivery Tippers

Tipping protocol is a constant subject of conversation, debate, and controversy in New York. Parking lot attendant extortion, unsolicited "help" hailing yellow taxis, doorman ties to the mob, the massage parlor "invisible hand," gypsy cab negotiations (and whether this term is offensive to the gypsy population), dedicated sommelier tip lines, Christmas gifts for the highrise building family you never knew you had, and the bartender binary bill conundrum are a few of the many gratuity topics on the mind of today's metropolitan citizen. Most of the notes I've read on the topic are generalized guides, outlining the appropriate instances when prescribed roundabout percentages are owed to certain recognized service providers. But with the recent rise of purveyor instituted tip jars -- accompanied by gratuity induced prices engineered to maximize coinage returned from paper bill purchases -- it's become increasingly important to develop a more granular and robust thought process for gauging these subjective matters of social protocol.

Friends commonly ask me for opinions on appropriate tipping procedure expecting a singular hard-and-fast rule in reply. Very few tipping situations are as uniform and static as the posers of this question would like to think. And many, like the one I’ve outlined below, involve multiple considerations in order to tabulate the proper outcome. To give you an idea I’ve outlined a cursory “thought process” examination of the high-frequency, multi-variable tipping scenario of restaurant food delivery.

>Long a Floor / Short a Cap
Importance: High

The blind application of a flat tipping percentage will at times result in a payment shortfall or overage. On the low side, remote patrons who are consistent placers of near minimum charge meal orders should be tipping more than 15-20%. On the high side, the toro sashimi takeout party you and your ten closest friends decide to have shouldn’t require the full 20% on top of an already pricey bill. A floor/cap of $2/$10 for a reasonable payload carryable by one delivery person should override an otherwise 15-20% of bill baseline rule-of-thumb.

>Distance
Importance: High

Requesting delivery to the outskirts of a maximum territory boundary prevents workers from churning out additional orders. Reward distance. Conversely, don't feel guilty offering up a low side tip on deliveries from restaurants located within shouting distance of your front stoop.

>The Multitask
Importance: High

Reward delivery journeys that appear dedicated to your order alone. If the person shows up with multiple bags it’s likely that the oven-to-door time has been extended against your interests (though this is not always the case).

>Weather
Importance: High

Though braving the elements is technically part of the job description, an additional tip is appropriate to compensate for safer/slower delivery speeds, especially if the payload arrives promptly. This booster is countered partly by the fact that during bad weather there is likely more orders to deliver, thus more tips.

Sidenote: The opposite theory applies in regards to bad weather when considering tips for taxis. Yellow cabs generally operate "in stride" during inclimate weather. And since there is usually no shortage of riders I feel less compelled to bump up gratuities.

>Tonnage
Importance: Moderate

Unwieldy pizza boxes and heavy orders of cheap brothy soba deserve more credit than a lightweight bento box or portable dish of Thai protein. Reward tonnage.

>Stair Stipend
Importance: Low

Climbing two flights of stairs is easier than four. Delivery to the door of my fifth floor walkup apartment deserves a small scaling consideration. Reward height.

Apr 12, 2008

Yoga Pop: Volume 6

Designed to play for the duration of a 75 minute vinyasa practice.

Song. Artist. Album
(Order is important / Time crops noted)

1. Everywhere All At One Time. Cloud Cult. The Meaning of 8
2. A Heart-Warming and Beautiful Flower Will Eventually Wither Away and Become Dirt. Susumu Yokota. Love or Die
3. Tesselation, Formerly Plateau One. Mahogany. Connectivity!
4. Please Sing My Spring Reverb - B.Fleishmann Mix. Mum. Please Smile My Noise Bleed
5. Abbesses. Birdy Nam Nam. Birdy Nam Nam (6:13)
6. Ready Set Glow. Atlas Sound. Let The Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel
7. We Own The Sky. M83. Saturdays = Youth
8. Neon Rider. Junior Boys. Last Exit
9. Send and Receive. Tycho. Past Is Prologue
10. Alienation. Lali Puna. Faking The Books
11. Ambulance For The Ambiance. Broken Social Scene. Bee Hives
12. Hazeldub. Alpha. Come From Heaven
13. I Know You Are But What Am I?. Mogwai. Happy Songs For Happy People
14. Aircastles. Our Sleepless Forest. Our Sleepless Forest
15. Last Orders. Richard Hawley. Cole's Corner

Apr 5, 2008

Music for Any Predilection

Modern day music trawlers would have a hard time subsisting without sites like Allmusic.com. Artist genealogy, discographies, influences, genre trees, and historical billboard chart inclusions are a few of the things you’ll find at this online music equivalent to The Library of Congress. But there’s one database attribute that makes this site unique. An attribute that puts this virtual library on my short list of internet obsessions: MOODS.

Each band in Allmusic's mammoth encyclopedia is assigned with as many moods from this list as are applicable to their musical sound. One can use mood as either a search characteristic or an umbrella designation to view critically acclaimed bands / albums. First, the thoroughness and accuracy of this database is mindboggling. Second, my hat goes off to this mysterious crew of professional mood-assigners; most likely the same people who review the music (right?). I don’t know who you are but know there’s at least one person out there who cares about you deeply. Third, as much as I enjoy thinking about music this way it’s pretty difficult not to snicker at the absurd precision implicated by some of these moods. I can't imagine that there are many people out there thinking “Boy, I’m really in the mood for an album that's uncompromising yet wry.” Other favorite ridiculous moods from their list include: clinical, earnest, sardonic, stately, ramshackle, austere, na├»ve, and brittle. Fourth, I do so wish that my music collection (read: my life) could be organized and sorted by mood. Let’s all hope ITunes and the many cultural collators to come co-opt this database methodology allowing users to apply MULTIPLE genres, moods, and (who knows what!) attributes to single pieces of file-away media.