A 5¢ Tip : Treatment of Immigrants

It has not been a month since a Chinese food deliveryman was brutally killed in Jamaica, Queens inside Rochdale, a middle-class housing development by two teenagers. A family friend of the restaurant owner is working now as a substitute for the slain deliveryman. In the article below, the new worker is given a 5¢ tip for making a $10.95 delivery.

We have studied some of the basic functions of government, their constitutions and the principles they uphold. We have also investigated how someone becomes a citizen in the United States. We know everyone in the United States is afforded the same rights, but does that mean we all get treated equally?


For Deliveryman, Another Day of Low Pay and High Risk
The new deliveryman stood in the cramped kitchen of the Ming Garden, a Chinese takeout restaurant in Queens, on Friday and stared into the bubbling deep fryers and large woks hissing and crackling with food and flaming oil.

The food was shoved into bins, cartons and bags and then handed to the new worker, Hing Wong, 27, to be delivered on the rough streets of South Jamaica.

Mr. Wong had been hired three days earlier to replace Huang Chen, 18, who on the previous Friday night was killed by two teenagers when he delivered food to them. The youths wanted money for Air Jordan sneakers, the police said, and robbed Mr. Chen of all he had: $49 in delivery money. They beat him in the head with a baseball bat and stabbed him in the chest to avoid being identified, the police said. Then they used his car to take his body to a park and dump it in a pond. They were arrested hours later, the police said.

Mr. Wong, a friend of Mr. Chen's who had been working at a restaurant in a safer section of Jamaica, said he knew Mr. Chen's father, Xing Shou Chen, who owns Ming Garden. For this reason, he agreed to replace Mr. Chen.

"My wife say, 'Deliver, no good, not safe,' " he explained in broken English. "But I tell her, 'No problem. I know the area. I take care of myself.' "

On Friday, Mr. Wong was concentrating only on three packages of steaming food that were getting colder by the minute. Dressed in a white kitchen smock and a black ski cap, he hopped into his Toyota, parked where Mr. Chen had parked his Lexus a week earlier.

Mr. Wong put the food on the passenger seat and squinted at the order forms. There was a chicken dish bound for a block where homes have heavy iron bars on their doors and windows. There was a spicy beef dish headed for the South Jamaica Houses project. And there was a chicken and broccoli dish to be taken to Rochdale Village, the sprawling apartment complex in South Jamaica where Mr. Chen was killed.

Mr. Wong agreed to take the job despite the pleas of his wife and his parents. Many restaurants in rough New York City neighborhoods refuse to deliver. But certain Chinese takeout places, like Ming Garden, on Guy R. Brewer Boulevard across from Rochdale Village, say they rely on their delivery business to make a profit.

Sometimes it is the deliveryman who pays. Mr. Chen was one of at least four deliverymen killed on the job in southern Queens over the past five years. Several others have been seriously injured after being called and then beaten by people who placed the orders. Immigrants' advocates say that countless other robberies and attacks have gone unreported. In Mr. Chen's case, the police arrested Nayquan Miller, who lived in the apartment where Mr. Chen was killed, and Charles Bryant, both 16. They have pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, robbery, weapons possession and tampering with evidence. They were charged as adults and were being held without bail.

The crimes have reached a flashpoint. In a case on Thursday, the police arrested three teenagers - a 14-year-old girl and two 15-year-old boys - in the Bronx in the knifepoint robbery of a Chinese immigrant delivering food to them.

Several City Council members and immigrants' advocates have called for a one-day moratorium on restaurant food deliveries today to honor Mr. Chen, whose family has a funeral planned for 11 a.m. today in Chinatown.

On Friday, with the car's stereo playing a Chinese ballad, Mr. Wong zipped around to his destinations, usually leaving his car running with the doors unlocked while he carried the food into building lobbies.
He stopped at Building 6 in Rochdale Village, across the street from Building 8, where Mr. Chen was killed. Mr. Wong delivered the order, which cost $10.95, to a woman who handed over $11.
"No tip, no problem," he said, shooting a glance at Building 8. "No safe is problem."

At the next stop, he was handed $9 for an $8.75 order, and at the South Jamaica Houses the bill came to $11.50. A child handed him exact change. "Always children no tip," explained Mr. Wong, who said he makes 30 to 40 deliveries a night and earns about $70 a shift. Still, he manages to support his wife and their 3-year-old son in their small apartment in Elmhurst, Queens, and send some money to his parents, whom he left in the Fujian province of China when he came to New York in 1994.

Often the orders he carries are for less than $10. Deliverymen are warned to call customers downstairs to the lobby, but they often ignore this because customers tend to tip better for delivery to their apartments. Mr. Wong said, though, that the delivery people he knows have stopped going to customers' apartments since Mr. Chen's death. He wonders how long that will last.

Many deliverymen speak little English and are regularly harassed or ridiculed by local residents, said Tomi Adeleke, 15, of Rochdale Village, who stopped at the restaurant on Friday with her cousin Temmy Izevbehai, 15.

"Some people are just ignorant," Ms. Adeleke said, leaning against a video game that promised "lifelike" violence. "But killing someone for a few dollars? That's crazy."

Many customers leaned through the cutouts in the store's bulletproof glass and said kind words. An 8-year-old-girl named Saychelle passed a condolence card to an employee.

Then her mother, Maureen Allen, said: "It's sad to think that a couple of teenagers who wanted sneaker money could murder another human being for pocket change."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company



  1. What is a fair tip for someone who delivers $10.95 worth of food to your home?

  2. Explain how did you decided what that fair tip is - - even if you decided the person doesn't deserve that tip, explain why you didn't tip them.
  3. Does the person's nationality or ethnicity play a factor in whether or not you will tip someone?

  4. Is the way you might treat a Chinese food delivery person is similar to the way you treat other people? Explain.