Tuesday, August 31, 2010

'Til Death Do Us Part

I had an entertaining run tonight. Normally, I only deliver Friday and Saturday nights, but I picked up a shift.

I went to a trailer park with a large 4 topping pizza. The only reason I mention it was a trailer is to set the scene, not to look down on people that live there or make fun of them. This was a double wide trailer. The extra side of it was completely unfinished, and made the people that lived there a prime candidate to appear on the show "Hoarders". I knocked on the door, an elderly gentleman answered, with his wife lurking in the background. I told him his total, $19.00. He happily handed me a $10 bill and generously (at least, from his perspective) told me to keep the change. I said "sir, this is a $10 bill" and handed it back to him. His wife yelled "WHY DON'T YOU GET IT RIGHT?!?!?!?, to which he responded "WHY DON'T YOU SHUT UP!?!?!?!" After this sequence, which eerily reminded me of George Costanza's parents screaming on "Seinfeld", the man handed me a $20 bill, still told me to keep the buck, and the couple acted like nothing ever happened.

At least they agreed on pizza toppings.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

I Miss It

In the past few months, while keeping 2 nights of pizza delivery, I've picked up a fancy full-time day job with a fancy title for a prestigious firm. Pay is about what you'd expect for an entry level Bachelor's degree job. The benefits are great, the time off is generous, and I like most of the people I work with. But it's not the same.

Delivery is always exciting to me, days are never the same, and I control my income based on my performance level. Contrarily, my day job is comparable to Bill Murray's experiences in "Groundhog Day", in that every day is the same. The job was exciting at first, but now that I have the hang of it, it's pretty monotonous. Unlike delivery, there is an undertone among my coworkers of "don't work too hard, or they'll give you more work" or "don't work too hard or you'll make us look bad". That attitude clashes with my beliefs.

The hardest thing to get used to for me, though, is that I am always being watched. In delivery, I am in my own car, able to pick my music, talk on the phone all night, eat wings, and stop for a beverage if I want, while things are slow of course. When I'm in the shop, I can do much of the same, plus I can play games on my phone. In the "real world", they monitor internet usage on your computer, have you notate every task you perform (even the most mundane), and it feels like there's always somebody scrutinizing you over your shoulder. This is a challenge that I will have to get used to if I am going to make this work.

In delivery, I had two fantastic jobs, I worked about 50 hours, and I typically brought home $900-1000/wk after gas. I don't make nearly that at my new digs, but the potential is there to double or even triple it. Patience is not always my strongest asset. Especially when I work 12 hours in 2 nights and make $350 at the pizza shop, after having a particularly rough Friday at work.

This post is probably well-timed because it's Sunday night, and I am dreading my Monday morning. In my delivery days, I typically worked very hard Tuesday-Saturday, and rested up on Sunday and Monday. But I always looked forward to going back to work, because I loved my jobs. I miss that.

I often tell myself that the 40-year-old version of me would kick the 28-year-old version of me's butt if he was still delivering pizzas at 40. But would I? Sure, I have nights off now, and that will be important to me over the next several years as my son grows up. Plus the paid vacation will be more enjoyable, knowing I am not missing out on pay to take a trip. But in delivery, I never felt like I needed a vacation. Plus I could always get a shift off when I needed one.

Several people this weekend have told me some version of "you don't seem like my normal self". Well you're all right - I have come to the realization that I don't enjoy my work. On Friday, Jon Kissner posted this on Facebook:

‎"You've achieved success in your field when you don't know whether what you're doing is work or play." - Warren Beatty

That used to be the case for me. Now it only is the case every Friday night, Saturday night, and every other Tuesday night. I am choosing delivery over bowling in a league this year. That's how much it means to me. Do we need the money? The cash comes in handy, but we could certainly do without it. It's fun, I love everything about it (besides the effect it has on my car and the hours), and I miss it.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Let me preface this post by saying that I pride myself on my navigation skills and knowledge of my trade area. I love to be the guy who can answer any question anyone has: "2450 Westwood? 3rd house on the left, yellow house with a detached garage, white Trailblazer and orange Wrangler in the driveway."

That being said, there was a craigslist ad that irked me:


Local Pizza place looking for delivery driver to work evening and weekends. Must have gps and reliable vehicle. If interested please reply to posted email with contact information and phone number. Thanks

So I responded with an ad of my own:


Real delivery drivers don't use GPS. We use maps for a couple weeks to a month, and then we have our areas all but memorized. We laugh at GPS delivery drivers. You typically only have a 2-3 mile radius to learn, so a simple area map will do the job.

GPS slows you down and stops you from learning the best route to your destination. By the time you have your address programmed into your GPS, I am already at the house. I look at an ad like this and I see "Person needed to add 2 digit numbers together. Must have TI-84 or above graphing calculator".

As a 50 hour/wk delivery driver, this is just a pet peeve of mine and I hope I have trained a green owner/manager how to better run a shop. Have a nice day, all.
I see my post lasted about 5 hours before it was flagged for removal. Oh well, I posted my opinion, and I know I'm right. I've worked with people that had GPS. Over a two month sample when I worked at Pizza Hut, I averaged a 16 minute trip time. Of the GPS drivers, none averaged better than 19 minutes during that time. 3 minutes per delivery might not seem like much, but over a night with 20 runs, I've beaten Joe Technology by an entire hour. That's a butt kicking.

I've found the best way to learn a trade area is to start with the main roads and numbering system/parameters. Just knowing this will be of tremendous help. Then learn what the main drags are in subdivisions and learn the side roads. This is where it ends for many veterans. But this is where I just begin to get my edge. Once you have the normal way to get somewhere, it is time to start experimenting. Slow days like Mondays and Tuesdays are great days to do this, as losing a few minutes on a gamble won't be detrimental to getting an order to its destination on time. I also learn the timing patterns of the traffic lights, which lights use a delay, what routes have fewer traffic lights, what routes involve more right than left turns, and which neighborhoods I can cut through to escape rush hour traffic. GPS won't do any of that for you. If this seems excessive, just remember that the 15 seconds I wasted could mean the other driver gets the Arlington triple with 3 known great tippers, and I get the single to BFE.

I need something snappy to go out on: Put that in your GPS and smoke it?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

I Wish You Would Order From Someone Else

"Here's a dollar. I wish we could give you more."

I smirk, take the dollar, and say "take care". Behind the smirk, there is a lot more going on in my mind.

Yes, $1 is better than nothing, and yes, a buck was a good tip during the Carter administration. But don't tell me you "wish" you could give me more. Not when you made me wait 3 minutes and I got to survey all your toys. The 50" HDTV is a nice touch. The late model F-150 looks awful nice. But my favorite is your RV. Amazingly, your budget allows for these extravagances, but you "wish" you could give me more than $1. Awesome.

Here's your food. I wish I could have gotten it here sooner. Unfortunately, the good tippers got theirs in <30 and yours took almost twice that. Here's your two-liter of Mountain Dew. I wish I took it from the cooler instead of dry storage, and I wish I didn't shake it up in my car. Here's your pizza. I wish I ran the cutting blade all the way through it and put enough cheese and pepperonis on it.

If the lady wants to tip more, she should just do it. If she doesn't, she should just give me the dollar and not make things worse by saying what she says. No reason to rub salt on my wounds. If it were just one time, I might overlook it. But this has happened several times now, increasing in annoyance each time.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Ode to Stiffers

The rims on your Escalade cost more than my car, but you "can't afford to tip me since times are tight". I hope you learn what "times are tight" REALLY means.

It's the first of the month, and you are using your welfare money to buy 2 large pizzas, 40 hot wings, and 12 bleu cheese cups (true story). I hope you run out of bleu cheese and don't realize it and eat the hottest wing in the bunch, meanwhile you don't have a beverage, the refrigerator and freezer lock, and the water goes out, causing you to weather your burning tongue. You lose your voice for the next several months and are unable to ask for taxpayer handouts to support your frivolity.

Your parents sent you to the door to pay and you pocketed my tip. I hope the money falls out of your pocket in front of your parents and Daddy finds the biggest paddle and the firmest belt in the house, and unleashes a whipping that Chuck Norris would envy.

You gave me a religious tract and told me that it was way more valuable than earthly money and expected me to be grateful instead of being furious that we are part of the same religion. I hope you start some sort of selfish charity and everyone sees right through it when you ask for donations. Catching wind of your cheap habits that you justify with religion, I hope they send you nothing but pizza menus in the donation envelopes you provide.

You are greedy and live in a McMansion and decided to buy another Tahoe instead of giving me a few bucks. I hope you forget to open your garage while you are yapping on your BlackBerry and drive your Tahoe into your McMansion causing both of these symbols of wealth (and debt) to collapse. And I hope you were also being miserly when it came to auto and homeowners insurance, leaving you with nothing but a pile of bricks and an SUV that needs a nose job.

You look down on pizza drivers and decide they are beneath you. I hope you lose your job and fill out an application at my pizza shop so I can look down on you when I tell you that we are not hiring drivers at the moment, but please feel free to check in periodically in case something opens up.

You somehow determined that the delivery charge is a replacement for the tip to cover your cheapness. I hope your phone number and address find themselves on a "special list" of customers who now pay a $7 delivery charge.

I feel better.

Friday, February 6, 2009

"Is a Dollar Cool?"

"Is a dollar cool?"

I was faced with that question 8 days ago at Conway Trucking around 5:30 pm, after brilliantly navigating Hilliard rush hour traffic, waiting 3 minutes for the guy to come out, and persevering through the aftermath of a violent snowstorm in the preceding 48 hours, which was essentially an area-wide skating rink.

Before I could muster out a seemingly graceful answer to a horribly dumb question, the trucker's coworkers heckled this cheapskate mercilessly over his tipping habits:
"A dollar, he drove all this way and waited for your a--!"
"Come on man, a dollar???"
"What is this, 1975?"

Okay, I threw that last one in myself. During all this, I kept a smile on my face and let the heckling truckers say what I wanted to say, despite the fact that Conway Trucking is on the very edge of our delivery map. To my surprise, the penny pinching trucker held firm and wrote $1 on the tip line on the credit card slip. Joy.

Fast forward 1 week:

I check my tickets and see that I have a stop to Conway Trucking. I get to said destination and inform the multitasking dispatchers who my customer is and have him paged. After 2 minutes, my customer comes out and greets me by saying "is a dollar cool?" I immediately recognize him as one of the hecklers from last week, and I share a good laugh with him before giving him his total, $18.60. He hands me a 20 and a 10 and says "this is to make up for that cheap bas---- last week". I said "Sir, you don't have to do that, but I greatly appreciate it."

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Rule-Breaking Euphoria

It was my first delivery of the night at Sparano's, and I was already feeling great. During the 40 minutes between the end of my Pizza Hut shift and my first delivery at Sparano's, I got my $2.00 after 2 pm Mocha Frappucino, and Michigan had turned a 19-0 deficit into a 19-14 mid-4th quarter gleam of hope.

When I pulled up to the beautiful Marble Cliff condo with 4 pizzas that totaled $64.50, I had a good feeling. The mid-50s lady at the door asked me if I could bring the pizzas downstairs for them. I jokingly told them that they seemed like pretty safe folks, and the crowd of baby boomer Buckeye fans roared with laughter. Before entering the condo, which was probably built in the last year or two, I astutely noticed the very light carpeting. As I kicked off my trashy, old, pepperoni-grease lined walking shoes, I told the McCain voters that I did not want to ruin their beautiful carpeting. They all commented on what a nice gesture it was, not realizing that it was an obvious attempt to pad my tip. As the lady handed me 4 crisp $20 bills and told me to keep the change, I smiled, thanked them for their generosity, put my shoes back on and left.

I walked back to my CR-V thinking of the 'delivery driver safety' sign at Pizza Hut that states "NEVER enter the customer's house" among other arbitrary rules. As if the sign could hear my witty reply, I thought to myself "Yeah, never enter the customer's house...unless you want a tip big enough to buy lunch for you and your wife after church the next day". As I got into my car, I quickly noticed that the display on my SIRIUS Sportster said "WISC 19 MICH 20". I did a quick fist pump, hit rewind, and listened to Frank Beckmann's call of John Thompson's Pick 6.

Now that is how I like to start a shift.