The Risky Business of Bringing You Lunch – The New York Times

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It’s Monday.

Weather: Cooler (phew!) with high temperatures around 80. Expect thunderstorms and possibly heavy rain. (Read about the heat wave that kept a grip on New York City, where more than 50,000 people lost power over the weekend.)

Alternate-side parking: In effect until Aug. 11.

CreditChristopher Lee for The New York Times

You tap, you wait, you eat.

Thanks to the digital economy, it has become easier and more common to order food to your home or office. When you do, an army of food delivery workers mobilizes behind the scenes.

For 27 hours this spring, my colleague Andy Newman was one of those workers.

[Read the article: My frantic life as a cab-dodging, tip-chasing food app deliveryman.]

Online and ready to go

Your favorite restaurants may not have changed, but the way they deliver food probably has. In the past few years, a cadre of apps has popped up: GrubHub, Seamless, Uber Eats, Caviar, DoorDash, Postmates.

Ping! Pong! Hurry up and go (where?)

Mr. Newman joined the apps as a deliveryman. Then he hopped onto an electric bike, opened his phone and waited for orders to come in.

Ping: an Uber Eats pickup at Cocina del Sur on West 38th Street in Manhattan.

Pong: Postmates wanted him to pick up two orders at Shake Shack on Broadway and 36th Street.

“I had to decide,” Mr. Newman wrote. “Take on three orders at once and risk falling behind? Stick with Uber Eats, which was running a $10 bonus for doing six deliveries by 1:30, or try for a Postmates bonus?”

But information was limited. Uber Eats doesn’t tell you where the delivery is going until you pick it up. Postmates didn’t say how much the job would pay.

Speed chess on a treacherous grid

As a delivery worker, you go where the apps say. The app is on your phone. You’re on a bike. So, your phone is on your bike, too.

Now dodge the cars.

Look out! A door just opened.

Who is blocking the bike lane?

Did that bus driver even see me?

The delivery workers are “the street-level manifestation of an overturned industry, as restaurants are forced to become e-commerce businesses, outsourcing delivery to the apps who outsource it to a fleet of freelancers,” Mr. Newman wrote.

Nearly a third of delivery cyclists missed work because of an on-the-job injury last year, according to one survey from the City University of New York.

Food delivery couriers are “the most vulnerable workers in digital labor,” said Maria Figueroa, director of labor and policy research at the Cornell University Worker Institute in Manhattan.

That wasn’t a tip. She saved DoorDash $3.

Not all customers tip delivery workers. And the ones who do are not necessarily enriching who they think.

Mr. Newman described a delivery he made to Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, for which DoorDash guaranteed him $6.85. The customer, a woman who answered her door in a colorful bathrobe, tipped him $3.

But Mr. Newman didn’t receive an extra $3 for the job.

He explained: “If the woman in the bathrobe had tipped zero, DoorDash would have paid me the whole $6.85. Because she tipped $3, DoorDash kicked in only $3.85. She was saving DoorDash $3, not tipping me.”

A spokeswoman for DoorDash said its delivery people prefer the guaranteed flat fee.

Councilman Ritchie Torres of the Bronx wants to require apps to tell customers where their tips go.

As for Mr. Newman’s earnings: He is donating them to The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund.

This month, Mayor de Blasio said the city was facing “an emergency” after three cyclists were killed in vehicular crashes in just over a week.

In response, he said the police would crack down on unsafe driving for the next three weeks.

How is that going?

Between July 1 and July 14, the police issued 5,673 summonses for vehicles parked in bike lanes, a 96 percent increase compared with the same time last year, said Sgt. Mary Frances O’Donnell, a Police Department spokeswoman.

Also, the police issued 1,921 summonses to drivers for failing to yield to a cyclist or pedestrian. That was 53 percent of the total number issued last year (3,611).


CreditByron Smith for The New York Times

Photos captured how dangerously hot it was this weekend in New York, and across the country.

Robert Morgenthau, the longtime Manhattan district attorney, has died at 99.

Anthony Comello wasn’t seeking to kill a mob boss. He was trying to help President Trump, his lawyer says.

Several New York representatives will face progressive hopefuls seeking to replicate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s success.

Eight artists withdrew from the Whitney Biennial over a board member’s ties to tear gas.

Beyoncé is a fan of these teenage singers from Brooklyn.

[Want more news from New York and around the region? Check out our full coverage.]

The Mini Crossword: Here is today’s puzzle.

In one week in Brooklyn, three bodies were found in the water. [Bklyner]

A museum of civil rights and 170 units of affordable housing are planned in a building in Harlem. [Daily News]

One city pool in Brooklyn was closed because “somebody didn’t put a Pampers on their kid,” a staff member said. [New York Post]

What happened to that indoor bike parking that Bruce Ratner promised at Atlantic Yards? [Streetsblog]

Did a robot make your meal? [Wall Street Journal]

The “Activist New York” exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York tells the story of New Yorkers’ 350-year fight for freedom and equality. 11 a.m. [Free]

Scott Adlerberg, a film connoisseur, discusses filmmaking and the culture of cinema at the Bryant Park reading room in Manhattan. 12:30 p.m. [Free]

The Jewish Museum in Manhattan is holding a drop-in workshop to help you create an illustrated storybook. 1 p.m. [Free with museum admission]

Baseball fans can head to the Langston Hughes branch of the Queens Public Library for an informal discussion about the sport. 4:30 p.m. [Free]

— Derek Norman

Events are subject to change, so double-check before heading out. For more events, see the going-out guides from The Times’s culture pages.


CreditGabriela Bhaskar for The New York Times

Allie Conti reports:

According to the Air Hockey Players Association, one of the sport’s governing bodies, there are 24 players in the world who are designated professionals, and 10 of them are recognized as masters.

In New York City, there appears to be only one air hockey master: Justin Flores.

[Read about the lonely pursuit of air hockey greatness.]

He moved to New York in 2013 after getting hooked on the sport while covering it for his college paper in Houston about a decade ago.

In Brooklyn, Mr. Flores has posted fliers around Ontario Bar (the only place he said would give him permission to do so) and on Facebook groups like New York Air Hockey Club (which has fewer than 100 followers) with his challenge: He will buy a beer for anyone who can beat him. So far, he hasn’t had to.

Now he is exclusively training at Brownstone Billiards in Park Slope. It’s a trek from where Mr. Flores lives, in Ridgewood, Queens.

Mr. Flores is also training a Crown Heights, Brooklyn, resident named Liz Cash. Both plan to compete in an air hockey tournament in Colorado this month.

Ms. Cash, a physical therapist, met Mr. Flores at Ontario Bar in 2015.

“He told me I could be the best woman in the world,” she said. “At that time, Justin was like Yoda to me. He might as well have been levitating off the table.”

It’s Monday — be a professional.


Dear Diary:

In the late 1990s, I lived in Bay Ridge with two roommates. We were all new to New York City and to the world of work, so funds were always short.

We entertained ourselves by playing Scrabble. A lot. We spent hours trying to one up each other. Over the course of our many games we lost some tiles: L, X and S. We didn’t know where to get replacements, and none of us wanted to splurge on buying a whole new game.

One day, as I waited to cross the street on my way to the R train station, I looked down and saw a bunch of Scrabble tiles in the street. And not just any tiles, but the dark wood ones that matched our set. The letters we were missing were there.

I quickly scooped up the tiles I needed and left the rest behind. Perhaps we weren’t the only ones who needed some replacements.

— Faith Shapiro

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