Zomato Delivery Boy And Elite, Urban Sympathy

It’s been three days since the Zomato video surfaced, and now the video has run its course on social media.

We live in an age when an actress’ wedding and a US election enjoy the same duration of relevance on our phones. So the Zomato video has run its course of online relevance. Most news items follow what I call the 3-day Relevance Cycle.

Now that the Zomato video has passed the initial outrage and jokes phase, and memes have been paid, it will organically move on to the Editorial articles. This is when articles telling us how to be better human beings will be shared across opinion sites.

Like this Tweet-collector article on The Indian Express which undertook the brave journalistic endeavour of collecting a few tweets on the subject. In it, you find people making statements like ‘If an employee is so hungry that he has to steal food, we must ask ourselves what sort of a society we live in’. (I can’t diss Indian Express too much because I write a humour column with them).

Another article by Arre (another fantastic website that churns out witty, insightful, unique articles) harps on the same subject. That we need to ask questions about the working conditions at the company, and how the guy deserves our empathy. Something about the tone of the article put me off (but I can’t diss Arre too much because I contribute columns for them too – you should check them out!).

The article begins with an allusion to a time in the French Revolution when there were thousands of hungry people on the streets who didn’t have bread, but the queen famously said ‘let them eat cake’. I was baffled at the extrapolation – this was not a case of a destitute man scrounging off the streets. This was daylight theft, a breach of trust, and a cunning cover-up that would have affected honest, innocent customers if it wasn’t caught on tape.

The article goes on to break down the trade on economic grounds. There’s a link to the fountain of all credible knowledge – Quora. Even if one were to go by the Quora post, it mentions that a delivery guy makes Rs. 2010 a day on an average of 21 deliveries. I am sorry but that is not as bad as it seems. In fact, freshly passed-out engineers and MBAs from most colleges in India will find a gross salary of 60,300 lucrative in any city in the country.

The post also mentions that the employees have to pay for the fuel themselves. Assuming that every order is 10 kms away on average, and the employees use your typical 100 CC bike that gives you 50 km/hr – that is a total of 10,800 Rs. on petrol every month. Deducting that amount, it still comes to 49,500.

The working hours are mentioned as anywhere between 8-12 hours a day – nearly every job across every sector falls in the same category. All things factored, a Zomato employee makes a neat 50K a month. How on earth does that demand sympathy and empathy? That’s more than what your average artists, musicians, and journalists earn. And the job doesn’t need high educational background or work-ex – a driving license, a bike, and time during the day.

That’s a bloody good deal.

So it clearly isn’t the economics – but rather an elitist condescension that somehow food delivery is a ‘lesser’ trade. There are nurses saving lives on less than half that salary, there are government employees slogging off for years for less than amount. If anything, the job is one of the modern off-shoots of a growing economy.

For any other job that pays you 50K a month, mishandling company’s property and assets would be met with similar seriousness. If an IT engineer takes company data home on a pen drive, he/she will get their ass booted the next day. If a comedian steals one joke, it is the end of one’s career.

It was an act of theft, a breach of trust, of putting unsuspecting customers at a health risk. And it wasn’t even a one-off act of desperation. It was done in a cunning, carefully planned manner. The employee was not starving or malnourished – he was what Pammi Aunty would call ‘very healthy’. This is not fat-shaming, it is fact-checking.

Unfortunately, the article proceeds to launch into a Guru Dutt film climax-speech about the injustice in society and how we must be ashamed of ourselves for letting this happen. That we must instead be complaining about the working conditions of the delivery boys. That’s just intellectual drivel.

And who really has the time to speak up about every issue in the world? Who possessed the time, dedication and energy to keep harping about injustices in society? For all you know, Indian Express and Arre themselves would have never broached the topic if the video hadn’t surfaced.

*

Out of curiosity, I checked Twitter, Facebook and Instagram if people were baying for the delivery man’s blood – they weren’t. And mind you, we live in a country where a person got killed for having mutton in their fridge.

It was a dick move – an act of theft and cheating, committed with an air of carefully planned crookedness. The guy deserved to get his ass fired.

Amidst this idealistic drivel – nobody speaks about the customers – honest, hardworking, and hungry. What if the food was meant for a child or someone susceptible to dust, allergies and infections? Why should anybody not be alarmed when the health, hygiene and well-being of their family is jeopardised by a cheating asshole?

I’m sorry, but to expect sympathy instead of alarm is juvenile. It’s the kind of stuff university students mouth after wearing a kurta and smoking two joints. The guy broke a rule, put people’s health at risk, tampered with company property, and got caught.

He got caught, and got fired from his job. It is sad, but that’s how life works.

Grow the fuck up!

This post was first published on the author’s personal blog.

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