Gig Workers Won’t Take the Beer

by Christian Sandvig

I keep beer at home for guests. No one at my house likes beer. As the mandatory stay-home order stretched out, it seemed pointless to save it. Doesn’t beer go bad?

We were getting all of our groceries delivered. I tend to overthink things, so I worried about the decision. Was I taking delivery slots away from the immuno-compromised? The elderly? Was I putting low-wage grocery-delivering gig workers in more danger so that I could be safe? 

After reading a philosopher’s answer in a newspaper column I decided grocery delivery was the right thing to do for everyone’s safety. I decided I wouldn’t cross any picket lines and I would try to favor the gig platforms that were good to their workers.

But there weren’t any gig platforms that were good to their workers, according to everything I found online. I eventually found local farmers and co-ops that would deliver some groceries and meats but I still needed other things from regular grocery stores. 

I figured, “I’ll go ahead and use the big platforms, but I’d be sure to tip extremely generously.” And: “Why don’t I also give them the beer?” 

I left the beer out with a note but the driver didn’t touch it. Next time, I tried a different, more obvious location. Nothing. Did they think it was a trap? Was there a policy against it? I wasn’t encouraging them to drink and drive — they could take the beer home. I didn’t put a bottle-opener next to it or anything. I don’t have cameras on my porch.

I wrote a longer note explaining that we didn’t drink beer. It didn’t work. Then I started texting the drivers just before they arrived. They would answer all of my texts about item substitutions and delivery directions but the texts about the beer didn’t get a response. No one will take the beer. I’m not sure what this means.

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