Servers, bartenders and delivery drivers have had an intimate glimpse into how people have been dealing with the coronavirus since the beginning. They delivered to our homes when we were too afraid to leave. They went back to slinging drinks when we grumbled about bars being closed. They even quietly supplied food for our irresponsible and unlawful large gatherings. Many have no other choice but to serve their careless, pandemic-denying customers or sink into poverty.
Some food workers, however, have decided to fight back against customers who violate coronavirus mandates, even in their own homes. Take, for example, this pizza maker who recently posted to Reddit about reporting customers for placing large, party-sized orders. The post has since been deleted, but it read as follows:
“I work at a pizza place, and we get at least five or six gigantic orders a day since lockdown started. In my city we’re not allowed to have gatherings of more than 10 people, which is honestly probably too much. I knew we were going to have a second wave as soon as the dumbass governor started allowing a lot of places to open again, because everyone in my city and honestly the whole U.S. is irresponsible as fuck. We have your address when you order for delivery. Every single group I’ve seen order like 20 pizzas, I’ve reported.
“My city has an official site/app to report price gouging and big groups and more. I don’t even know how many people I’ve reported, but I’ve gotten quite a few follow-up emails thanking me for reporting these giant ass groups of people having parties and shit. I will say it’s really satisfying to get a bit of revenge on people placing gigantic orders when we’re already doing ridiculous record weeks from the amount of people ordering takeout, but that’s absolutely not the reason I’m doing it. I hate this country with a passion because it’s always ‘me me me’ with these fuckers. I’m ashamed to be an American. The entire world is looking at us from their mostly recovered countries and seeing us for the idiots that we are.
“The people breaking quarantine to have parties and spreading this virus around absolutely deserve any legal action that comes to them. They’re putting our community in danger and making this situation worse. I will continue to report any of these large gatherings until we’re finally free of this idiocy.”
As you might expect, the internet was incoherently divided on whether a food worker has any right to report potential large gatherings. Some commenters praised the employee for helping curb the coronavirus, while others condemned them for involving law enforcement over large orders of pizza. Right or wrong, whether these reports actually result in anything at all is perhaps the larger question here.
Before I get into that, I should note that I polled r/Postmates to see if anyone there had also been reporting large gatherings. One replied, “No tip = snitch.” Another responded, “I didn’t report it, but I had a delivery to a ‘private’ music festival happening on this private lake there were probably 100 cars. It was pretty cool but scary at the same time since no one was probably wearing masks.” In essence, most of these responders fall into the category of food workers who feel they can do nothing about being introduced into risky situations, because speaking up could mean sacrificing precious tips. The general feelings from these responses may also suggest that food workers who are reporting large gatherings are few and far between.
As for whether reporting large gatherings even does anything, that seems to depend. Over the course of the coronavirus, many states and counties have created online forms where people can report quarantine violations. While police have long struggled and disagreed about how to enforce these violations, there are numerous reports of them breaking up parties and ticketing attendees. In Melbourne, Australia, police were even able to track down a large birthday party — and hand out $26,000 in fines — after two people were reported for ordering about 20 meals from a nearby KFC. (Australia, of course, has done a much better job of curbing the coronavirus than the U.S. has.)
Thus, reporting someone for having a large gathering certainly has the potential to result in the breaking up of said party (although, there are still some problems with concluding that someone is having a party and therefore deserves to be reported for ordering a bunch of pizza). Reporting someone also has the potential to get you in trouble: Back in May, a far-right group in Washington gained access to a list of whistleblowers who reported businesses in violation of coronavirus orders through a state website. They used that list to barrage those whistleblowers with harassing emails and threatened to dox them.
All of this is to say that the coronavirus continues to pose a struggle for law enforcement and our country as a whole. And really, the fact that a food worker even feels the need to report people for not taking this pandemic seriously is much more telling and disturbing than you potentially being reported for having a reckless party while our country creeps toward 150,000 coronavirus deaths.
But if you already decided that celebrating is more important than preventing more people from dying, I suppose there are worse ways to watch the world burn than with 20 pizzas and the whole neighborhood.