Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Introducing ‘tip-shaming:’ Should this company have tipped on a $170 food-truck order?

In the wake of "fat-shaming," "slut-shaming," "passenger-shaming" and all the other uses of shaming as a suffix, a Manhattan food-truck employee has stirred the Twitter pot by "tip-shaming" a corporate customer.

Last Monday, a group from Glass, Lewis & Co, an advisory service for institutional investors, placed a $170 (U.S.) order with Milk Truck NYC, which specializes in milkshakes and "artisanal" grilled cheese sandwiches. Peeved that no one bothered to leave a tip, Brendan O'Connor took to Twitter, calling them out on their stinginess.

The next day, Milk Truck apologized to Glass Lewis on Twitter: "rgrding yest. tweet by an employee–it was flat out wrong. we do NOT in any way support or condone this behavior-our apologies."

Story continues below advertisement

Naturally, Glass Lewis responded – although in a way that did not acknowledge any wrongdoing: "We appreciate it, and look forward to doing business with you again!"

As it happens, O'Connor is also currently contributing to The Awl, a New York-centric news site, as a summertime reporter. So when Milk Truck fired him, he expressed his feelings in more than 140 characters with this piece.

"Obviously I knew it was a possibility that I'd get fired. I guess I had hoped that the owner would have my back if they complained, but that was a miscalculation. And the stakes weren't too high, or I wouldn't have done it: I'd been thinking about quitting and focusing on freelancing, so I had a luxury of speaking, and then tweeting, my mind," he writes.

The worn out chestnut that the customer is always right seems to hold less weight here. How, after all, might the Glass Lewis team defend their decision to neglect leaving a gratuity?

So the company did what any schoolyard bully would do: It deferred blame back to the food truck management, which proceeded to fire O'Connor.

Since yesterday, when the article was published, many voices have chimed in on the exchange between Glass Lewis and Milk Truck – both reprimanding and defending O'Connor.

At the root of the problem is whether food trucks fall under the same codes of conduct as sit-down restaurants? This person tweeted that for such a big order, the company should have called up caterers.

Story continues below advertisement

Anyway, O'Connor's latest beef seems to suggest a pattern of being punished for speaking up. He confessed on Twitter yesterday that "in 3rd grade, I called a bully 'a pernicious, odious slug' after I read it in Gulliver's Travels, but it only made things worse. true story."

Report an error Licensing Options

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at