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The Freeze Is On. Don't Tip Your Food-Delivery Cyclist Like It's July

By Stephen Gossett in News on Dec 14, 2016 5:20PM

image credit: reallyboring

You should always tip your food delivery person well, especially if he or she is on bike, braving the elements. But on days like today—with wind chills expected to hit minus-30 in parts of the Chicago area overnight—you should really tip him or her extra well. But is that always the case? Do people pony up for the working stiffs pedaling through the stiff freeze?

The short answer, thankfully, is an affirmative, although mileage does vary. “Yes, humanity usually comes through on days like this,” Drew Priest-Grochowski, a founding member of the Cut Cats Courier delivery service, told Chicagoist. “But it does fluctuate wildly [in general].” On a recent cold day, for example, Priest-Grochowski netted only $2.03 from three deliveries (!), but then pulled in $7 for one.

“I’d get angry when I was younger. ‘That’s ok, I don’t wanna pay my bills.’ But the universe tells me to shut up when I get a good tip,” he said.

We’ll advocate, though, considering what these folks put themselves through. The company has only closed one day in six years due to extreme conditions: the infamous, brutal polar vortex of 2013. They do also have a clause with their partner restaurants that allows for a temporary scaling back of expanded delivery zones. “If we think it’s getting too cold… those delivery zones will be manicured in order to keep riders off the bike. When the wind chill is so extreme and there’s a chance of frost bite, we don’t want to keep riders out more than 30 minutes at a time. “

When they are exposed to the elements, it’s all about preparation. "The old adage is true: There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear. I can work 13 hours at 0 degrees. I won’t be happy, but I can do it," Priest-Grochowski said.

“But don’t feel bad for ordering just because it’s really bad outside. Just take care of us because we’re trying to take care of you,” he added.

So how much extra should you throw your delivery cyclist? Priest-Grochowski didn’t offer a figure, but Grubhub recommends $3 - 5 additional for “weather woes”—and their delivery folks are generally in cars. We'll leave the final call to you, but consider it kismet that the season of bitter winter coincides with the season of giving.