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Do you feed workers at your home?

Growing up, my Mom always fed workers who were doing stuff at our house--usually a big pot of chili or stew at lunch.

I don't make a full meal, but always make home-made baked goods. We recently had 3 baths remodeled, and some of the workers (especially tile) were the same crew for up to a week at a time, so I got to know them a bit and they seemed thrilled and surprised at having homemade goodies every day. I didn't even realize this was odd! (One guy asked for several recipes, which was nice.) I also offered coffee, soft drinks and cold bottled water--one guy said none of his recent customers even had water for them.

So, am I the oddball who cooks for workers? (I always told 'em if there were nuts in the brownies, and I'd never cook w/ alcohol for workers I don't know.)

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  1. I don't have workers in Florida, but when I lived in the Yucatan I fixed lunch for my bi-weekly housekeeper and gave my gardeners, all Mayan, plenty of ice water.

    1. I always have cold drinks, hot coffee for them. If it's a whole day or two, I cover lunch. We're about to do a major remodeling job expected to last months, and Friday lunch will be on me, either home made or brought in to order. Beverages all week.

      The woman who cleans my house is always offered lunch and I buy things I know she likes. She knows to feel free to take what she likes when I'm not around, as well.

      1 Reply
      1. re: mcf

        Piggybacking to add that I asked my husband (did contracting work during college summers, later ran his own contracting business with many laborers for 13 years) about this.

        Only one customer in all those years gave workers lunch daily, more customers provided lunches on Fridays, and hot coffee and cold drinks were very much appreciated.

        Since we have a big job coming, I'll likely buy an airpot if I have many coffee drinkers, cases of G2 Gatorade, and since it'll likely be during a NY winter, maybe hot soup on hand at all times.

      2. Always...and when my Mermers...house was being built she lived out of town and my mom would bring sandwiches or hot lunch to the crew..so they wouldnt have to leave...she had one of the first five houses in the sub division..people still coment that hers is one of the best built ones.... also when my mom went into the hospital to have me... always have cookies in your room.. and the nurses will come check on you a lot more!!

        1. Sure have! When the yard was going through a big change we had a grill going most of that summer to fed the crew.

          We also leave iced water bottles in our garage for the mail carrier. One year we bought the carrier a hard case for water and he filled the bottle up throughout the day.

          Painters love my grilled cheese sandwiches.

          My Uncle took over a bldg that required a great deal of rehab and wound up in the newspaper for feeding the crew.

          I actually assumed this kind of thing was pretty normal.

          16 Replies
          1. re: HillJ

            I thought it was normal, too, until the workers indicated otherwise.

            And, girloftheworld, the best house in the subdivision: absolutely! I figure if I keep the workers happy, they'll do even better work. One guy even added in some extra design details that I think I "bought" with my cookie offerings.

            The mail carrier: in the snowy winters of my childhood, Mom often pulled a batch of hot cookies from the oven just before the mail carrier arrived and packaged some up for him, along w/ a cup of coffee.

            1. re: pine time

              My mailman always accepts a box of Christmas cookies at the appropriate time of the year, and leaves an official USPS thank you card. So sweet! He makes little happy faces all over it and I've saved them all. But I know almost everywhere like that, gifts have to be limited to $20 or so, so what else could you leave anyway?

              1. re: coll

                We've given $20 GC, gas cards, hand warmers and baked goods at Christmas. Most are just happy for the thought. Since most carriers now share their route with a few casual workers as coverage, we probably see five diff carriers a year.

                1. re: HillJ

                  I'm such a dweeb, I still go with home baked stuff as an automatic thing. Gotta get out of the rut.

                  1. re: coll

                    coll, if your carrier loves your baked goods, that's all that matters. homemade shows care don't you think?

                    1. re: HillJ

                      He seems to be thrilled, don't want to disappoint him! I'm getting bored after all these years, but should stop projecting on others. So tempted to just take the easy way out though....

                      1. re: coll

                        For some of your carrier's stops I bet the easy way out is not baking cookies. So, he might really miss those homemade goodies if you stop.

                        1. re: HillJ

                          I know, his enthusiastic thank you cards are what keep me going. I always wonder what else he gets? I know one neighbor waits out in the dark for the garbagemen to give them a case of beer, so in that case I definitely take the easy way out.

                          1. re: coll

                            I leave little special wrapped chocolates and candies in the mailbox randomly through the month of December. My mail woman came to the door last year and told me how much she loves the little surprises all month.

                            1. re: coll

                              As a retired letter carrier, I can tell you for certain that cash or a gift card is preferred to anything else. Where I worked, it was typical to get holiday tips/gifts from about 20% of one's customers. That varies depending on averate customer income and the type of delivery on the route. Regardless of whether or not I liked what I received, I always left an effusive thank-you card in the mailbox as did most of my coworkers. Whether or not your letter carrier has auxiliary assistance delivering the route varies tremendously from case to case. An ethical carrier will split tips proportionaly with the workers who help deliver the route. While the rules prohibit carriers from accepting anything worth more than $20, that is universally ignored by customers, carriers, and postal management.

                              1. re: greygarious

                                How do you leave a gift for the mail carrier? We had a PO box growing up and I've never been quite sure how to do it. I worry that the mail carrier will just chuck the envelopes in a bin and not notice something was meant for him/her.

                                1. re: Hobbert

                                  Address it to "OUR MAIL CARRIER", put your return address on the corner, and leave it in the box with the flag up. Make sure it's the top /only item in the outgoing box. Add a post-it note sticky flag on the side if you worry they might miss it.

                                  We give a bookstore gift card each year, and get a very nice personalized thank-you note.

                                2. re: greygarious

                                  Our carrier delivers to 400 homes each day with five alternative casuals covering his vacation/sick time. He says that if every house gave $5-10 he'd be happy with the thoughtfulness. But most who give, give considerably more than $20.00 and plenty of customers don't give at all. However, he has said that carriers who talk about tips can get in trouble. So I don't know about the universally ignored comment but I know I won't skip tipping the mailman.

                                  1. re: HillJ

                                    When we had a regular mail carrier, we first gave him a Starbucks card, then went to a Visa gift card. He actually wrote us a thank you note, saying he took his wife out to dinner (Olive Garden, oh well) so that our little gift benefited them both. Wish we still had him.

                                  2. re: greygarious

                                    So is money the best holiday gift you've ever gotten from a customer. (I see above via your Recommend, no manicure for you.)?

                2. I always offer but they seldom accept. Not even coffee or a bottle of water. Don't know if it's a liability thing or what, but some have indicated that it is a rule. The ones that may not be "legal" (not of my hiring, usually dropped off for the day) are the only ones that say OK, and seem delighted with my offerings. Guess they can't get disability or workers comp if things go wrong.

                  I do always offer though, can't help myself, even when I know it's against regulations. And I do have a lot of people coming and going lately.