Dear Urban Diplomat: Do I really have to tip my Uber driver?

Dear Urban Diplomat: Do I really have to tip my Uber driver?

I work brutally long hours at a start-up, and when I stay late at the office, I usually take an Uber home. The other night, I noticed the app now lets you tip drivers. I don’t know the protocol in this case, and I worry drivers will start rating me lower if I don’t throw in an extra few bucks. Is tipping Uber drivers the new normal, or is it just for over-the-top service?
—Guilt Tip, Liberty Village

Lucky for you, Uber drivers don’t see if or how much you’ve tipped until after they rate you. But that shouldn’t matter. If you’d tip your cabbie (and you should), tip your Uber driver. Sure, the non-tipping was a big part of Uber’s initial appeal, but now that it’s well documented how measly drivers’ earnings are, forgoing a gratuity—the one thing that won’t be siphoned off by corporate HQ—is a miserly move. Of course, you can still be judicious: a road-raging maniac who subjects you to 20 white-knuckled minutes of near collisions doesn’t deserve 15 per cent. But when your driver offers to let you blare your tunes over the Bluetooth radio, be generous.


Dear Urban Diplomat,
I love my street. It’s leafy, full of young families and peaceful—most of the time. Every morning around 6:30, one of my neighbours warms up his unbelievably loud motorcycle. It nearly gives me a heart attack on a regular basis. I want to say something, but the biker doesn’t seem like the approachable type, and, if our onversation went sideways, I’d still need to see him a few times a week. What’s my move?
—Hogtown Hubbub, East York

Unless your idyllic street is secretly home to a Hells Angel, you have no reason to be intimidated by your hog-­loving neighbour. Next time you see him out with his bike, strike up a friendly conversation about heat shields or crank shafts or whatever it is that gets bikers excited. Explain the situation and suggest some remedies: making sure his muffler is up to snuff, pushing back his morning ride. Alternatively, you can make a noise complaint to the city. They may ask you to keep a log of the racket. If you prove it’s a legitimate disturbance, they’ll tell him his sunrise revving is bothering neighbours without naming you specifically. It’s not guaranteed to work, but at least you won’t have to risk getting on the biker’s bad side.


Dear Urban Diplomat,
One of my co-workers “forgets” his wallet at home every once in a while—suspiciously, right before payday. The first couple of times he asked to borrow some money for lunch, I obliged and didn’t mind. But he’s never paid me back, and he keeps asking. I really don’t want to be his personal ATM. How do I get this to stop without ruining an otherwise good working relationship?
—Loan Snark, The Beaches

In the face of such blatant mooching, you’re A-okay to halt the handouts. Stand your ground and say no, or, if you’re feeling generous, tell your co-worker you’d be happy to spot him for a sandwich—just as soon as he pays you back for the last four. If he keeps begging or makes a fuss, the work relationship is already well on its way to being ruined, whether you loan him some lunch money or not.

Send your questions to the Urban Diplomat at [email protected]