Saturday, October 31

10/30 A Scary Story

In a cold shopping center, a little way from the city, surrounded by crickets, there lived a Bopper. This Bopper was normally content with answering phones and folding boxes. He was rather good at folding boxes. He never told anyone but he was a little scared of the pizza ovens with their sinister chains and gears. He somehow knew that on its way from the makeline to the cut-station those pizzas passed through Hell.

One breezy day, the eve of All Hallows Eve, the pizza store was very busy. People were going to early Halloween parties and they needed to feed their kids so they ordered pizza after pizza. Drivers came in and out, taking the pizzas to their destination. People came in and out picking up the pizzas they would take home. Stoner Manager squished and poked, prodded and tossed the dough over and over again. Thing Two sauced and topped, over and over again. Old Bopper summoned a snowstorm of cheese, never a speck landing where it wasn't wanted, and set the pizzas on their journey. The store was a perfect pizza assembly line.

There was only one problem... at the end of that assembly line, emerging from the fiery depths of the pizza oven, there was no one there to welcome the newly arrived pizzas and divide their goodness so that all may enjoy. Pizzas were getting close and closer to the edge. With no one there to catch them they would surely fall and the assembly line would fail. So Stoner Manager called on our Bopper to take up the mantle of the cut-station, little did either of them know that the Bopper's worst fears were about to come true.

It was about ten minutes later that it happened. The Bopper had almost started to think his fears were unfounded. After-all, the pizzas seemed ok, he didn't really have to touch the oven. As long as he didn't think about it and focused on the routine: peel under grate, turn, peel under pizza, into box, cut one, cut two, cut three, cut four, extras, close, repeat. And everything was ok, until some chicken strips came out. Peel under grate, turn, peel under paper, open box, Spiders!

Tuesday, October 27

A Leftover Damn-the-Man

With all the busy blogs this weekend I forgot to mention Sunday's Damn-the-Man. It was right after I had taken a second trip out to someone's house for a soda and I would normally detour to take the road over my favorite low-water crossing but we've recently had a lot of rain so I knew that my spot was flooded (and I'm not the type of driver to attempt crossing a flooded bridge). But I decided to go down there to take a picture of it even though I knew I'd have to turn around and go all the way back out to the main road to get back to the store.

Monday, October 26

10/25 Moldy Pumpkins

You know what happens when you carve slightly fugly jack-o-lanterns and display them on your porch? They get moldy and people like me who have no choice but to go onto your porch have to wonder how many fungus spores are in the air. This is a perfect metaphor for my Sunday.

First the good pumpkins:
  • The first joked with me on the phone and I was really not amused, but when I took the delivery they tipped me $5 and it turns out it was a group home for the disabled and I talked to the guy who ordered for a little while, he was really surprised that I'm a female delivery driver.
  • Thing One mentioned that the customer wanted to order a soda but that they had already been rung up. I, being a thoughtful driver, brought one with me and allowed him to buy it for cash. (El Jefe later tried to make me pay full price for it but I convinced him to let me buy it at my discount to make an extra $1.50 in profit) The guy tipped me $5.
And now for this guy:

I go to the house just like any normal delivery. He answers the door, I recognize the house and know he's probably going to tip $2 like he previously has. He starts to fill out the credit card receipt and turns to me and says, "I'm going to be an asshole and give you no tip and I just want you to know that I'm only doing this because the guy on the phone was such a jerk." I am not in the mood for it so I say, "You know that doesn't punish him." and he says, "Well, whatever. If you come here again, I'll tip you, I don't forget a face." I hate people who try to make themselves feel better by telling me what they think I want to hear. Money talks! I don't believe you! And if you ever have to say "I'm going to be an asshole", don't worry, you've obviously achieved the status of asshole long before now.

That behavior alone would get him on here, but it gets worse. After he signs the receipt I take the pizza out and start to hand it over and he says, "no, I was supposed to have three pizzas." I patiently show him where I have brought everything that was ordered. I have 2 of 2 pizzas and 2 of 2 sodas. He keeps saying that they must have taken his order wrong, so I give him two options, he can take the pizza and call the store to work something out, or I can take it back with me and cancel the order. He chooses the latter.

When I get back to the store I start talking to Stoner Manager about it and it turns out the guy called 3 times to try to get the order in and twice after the delivery attempt. The first time he was calling to complain that our online ordering wouldn't give him all the specials that he'd picked. Stoner Manager offered him the number to online customer service. The second time he tried to get the online-only specials over the phone and was pissed when he couldn't. The third time he decided to order two pizzas but changed his mind to add a small anchovy pizza and then heard the price and changed his mind back. The fourth time he wanted his refund and claimed that Stoner Manager had offered him a particular special (an outright lie as this particular special is available only online and is one that we all hate, I've seen Stoner Manager talk people out of it). The fifth time he was upset that the money hadn't immediately gone back into his bank account, as if we have control over how fast his bank processes things on a Sunday.

On top of dealing with that prick, my headphones were stolen from on the drivers' station. Possible suspects are: Stoner Manager, Thing One, Day Driver, and Monkeywrench. I'm going to go ahead and rule out Stoner Manager since he had his own headphones and Monkeywrench since she has no need for headphones, leaving Thing One and Day Driver. I'm pretty sure it was Day Driver since he mentioned 3 times how "weird" it was that my headphones just disappeared off the drivers' table when there wasn't that many people in the store. Ummhmm, weird...that you fucking took them.

Update: El Jefe called me this morning to tell me that my headphones had been "found" in the pocket of an apron in the bathroom.

Overall I got $63 off of 16 deliveries. A not too bad average tip of $2.80

10/24 A Bad Batch of Mushrooms

The last batch of mushrooms that came into the store are yellow and slimy. They smell bad. We're using them anyway.* And that's the perfect metaphor for my Saturday.

Lets start with the couple of customers who really got my goat.**
  1. First delivery of the day to a lady who pretips a dollar. I forget the soda. Hold.
  2. Go back to the store to get soda, pick up another delivery to take at the same time. Decide to take the other delivery first because the odds are that they'll actually tip me and that lady's dollar hasn't exactly motivated me to provide her good service.
  3. I get to the delivery and the guy tries to pay with a $50 bill. I don't have enough change and I explain to him that I only carry $20 in change but he claims that El Jefe told him I could break a $50 and then asks if he can write a check. As he hands me the check he tells me, "and tell the guy who took the order that he cost you your tip." Remember this. It happens again.
  4. Resume #1: On my way to drop off the soda I get a call from El Jefe that the lady called to find out where her soda is. I ignore his question and yell at him for screwing me over. Of course, it doesn't mean anything. He'll do it again. I'm the only one who gets screwed. I drop of the soda and try not to scowl at her kids who answer their door. It's not their fault their genetically predisposed to be complete assholes.
On top of that, the whole day El Jefe was spouting his conspiracy theories and political leanings to Thing One. In a store this small it's hard not to overhear. So just for the run-down: he hates Obama (don't care), thinks we're not a democracy (don't care), thinks the electoral college is a conspiracy (don't care), thinks Ron Paul would fix it (don't care), and takes the fact that science sometimes contradicts itself as proof that scientists are all conspiring with the government (this one I care about but have the wisdom to know that arguing with idiots doesn't go anywhere). I'm not saying I don't have opinions on his opinions, I'm just saying that I'm certainly not going to express them at work (or here) and that I didn't ask for his opinion and therefore don't care what it is.

Speaking of people that annoy the shit out of me, how about people who tell me what they think I want to hear just so that they can feel better (little do they know I know they're full of shit). For example: I delivered to a house that tried to pay with a $100 bill. I didn't have change. So while the mom went to scramble for another way to pay I was stuck on the driveway with her adult son awkwardly hitting on me (He seemed to be taking the "so you have a mediocre job, I have a mediocre job, so we're the same and you therefore don't think I'm a loser" approach. He seemed to think his job was slightly less mediocre and invited me to come be a night stocker with him at Walmart. No, thanks). When his mom scrapes up enough cash to pay me in exact change they profusely apologize for not being able to tip and the mom tries to convince the son to ride along with me to the store to get change so they can tip me. Seriously. After that scenario is politely diffused she decides to send her son to the store to break the $100 and drop my tip off at the store. Never happened. I'm not surprised. And just in case he's wondering, shitty job or not, not tipping makes him a loser in my book.

There were two bright spots:
  • My last delivery of the night was in a neighborhood where it is almost impossible to see house numbers, but this house had a large yard sign with the numbers clearly and simply written in reflective paint. I wanted to hug the lady. ($5 tip)
  • I dropped a soda (they had ordered 4) on the way up the drive and it got so fizzy that it started leaking out of the top. I offered to go get them another one, but the guy took it anyway and still tipped $4.
I made $73 off of 20 deliveries. An average tip of $2.55.

*This is particularly ironic if you know what chain I work for and their motto.
**Does anyone know the etymology of this phrase? I'm just curious.

10/23 Experiment

A few posts ago I was talking about being freaked out at creepy deliveries and Gypsy commented, "When I did this job a few years ago, I would get on the c.b. every time I got in the car for a delivery. If I had to go to a bad neighborhood, I would tell someone the address I was getting out of the car at. They knew if I didn't check back in within 8 minutes they needed to call the cops and my store, in that order. It made me feel tons safer."

So I decided to try an experiment to see if I felt any better about some of my deliveries. When I get to a delivery I don't feel comfortable about, I'll text a designated buddy with the address and how long I think it'll be until I check in. Then I'll check in when I get back in the car. If I don't check in that person would try texting me and calling me and if I didn't answer would notify the cops and my store that I am in trouble. I realized that even though this takes more time than the original suggestion, it will still be a lot faster than waiting for the store to realize I'm gone. In fact, I would be willing to bet that the store wouldn't realize I'm gone until the end of the night when they've sent almost everyone home and I'm still clocked out on a run. It might even be longer than that, it might be until they're closing the store at midnight and they realize I'm still clocked in. The thought of being missing for three or four hours before someone knows about it scares me and depending on the manager that night the urgency of the matter might or might not be communicated to the police. I know that my buddy knows that if I don't check in, something is wrong.

Anyway, I wasn't sure when I'd have a chance to test out the new system, but on the last delivery of the night I was getting sent out to an industrial area. Not only was it an industrial area at night, but when I got there I had to drive through a gate (which could easily be closed behind me), up a long unlit driveway (who knows how many rocks I could trip on if I was running), through a cluster of cars (with lots of places for people to surprise me), through a group of drinking men (who didn't look all that upstanding), and into a large metal building (which probably has a floor drain) to get to the office where a woman paid for the pizza (and tried to steal my pen twice!). I was glad that I had the system in place because it made me a little less scared. I was still nervous and cautious, but my fear wasn't as high.

I came out with $23 off of 7 deliveries, a pathetic tip average of $2.18.

Tuesday, October 20

10/17 10/18 Back in the Swing of Things

Saturday night was pretty normal. Not really busy, but I was happy enough to be at work after my fantastic Friday night. Of course, when I have one of those great nights I try to remember that I'll have a shitty night that will even it out. Sunday was very slow. Goofball went home early and I got a lot of reading done.

Store Gossip:
  • Goofball is two-timing us by delivering for the rival chain in town (another one of the big three).
  • Ferngully isn't on the schedule. I don't know if she quit or what during the two weeks I was gone.
  • We hired a new Bopper, she showed up for training (watching training videos*) wearing a sheer zebra print top, tight jeans, and lots of eye-makeup. Don't know what to call her yet. All I know is later on the make-line El Jefe was asking Thing One and Thing Two why they rolled their eyes when they saw who was training and I didn't hear their reply.
*sidenote on training videos - I never had to watch them but I was forced to overhear a bit while doing dishes (I had half of the dishes and since I got to pick first I did the big dishes which account for half the work. I did them right and didn't screw over the person with the second half). This particular was was on what to do if our computer systems go down; how to take orders etc. Haha! Our Boppers can barely take phone orders WITH the computer system. I'd hate to be the one that ends up without a calculator and has to do math in their head.

Not amusing
  • Stiffed - Got to the house and the lady comes out and says she didn't have enough cash so she's going to write me a check for the rest. You would think that meant maybe she'd put a tip in with it. Nope. $28 cash and a check for $2.84. Really? You couldn't have written it for I dunno, $5. Still an unacceptable tip, but at least it's something.
  • Stiffed - When I give out more than $10 in change, I know they have the money to tip me. This happened twice. Jerks.
  • Stiffed - Came to the door and there were no lights on the porch and no lights on inside. Guy counted out money by the light of the street light. Exact change.
  • Stiffed - they barely spoke English so I give them a free pass on the tipping, this time. This is one of the times I wish I could do a little education. A pamphlet maybe?
  • Got paid entirely in ones. What do I look like, a strip club?

  • Delivered to a young Elvira look-a-like, I wondered if she was just gearing up for Halloween, but I don't think so. The look wasn't over-the-top enough to be just for Halloween.
  • My favorite low-water crossing is covered by water. We've had a lot of rain recently and the creeks are flowing fairly consistently. I miss driving over it, but I'm glad that they may finally upgrade us from extreme drought to moderate drought.
  • I made the snap decision to go down a long country driveway knowing that I couldn't tell if I'd have room to turn around. I ended up having to back out the whole way and I didn't hit anything or go off the road! (I'm a terrible backer)

Saturday, October 17

10/16 One Year and a Cell Outage

First, I've been delivering pizza for one year now! El Jefe says I get a special pin, I don't know that I want to be the pud who actually wears it, but at the same time, a year is a long time for a job like this. Not only that, but I've been blogging it for a year (almost every shift). I feel like I've grown this whole new part of me, PizzaGirl, that would have never come out otherwise. My life has changed so drastically during this year that I can't even begin to think about the potential path I might have taken had I not had this job. I hope that I've come out better for it.

As if somehow The Man sensed my big day, AT&T had a big cell-service outage in the greater-Austin area. It wasn't just a loss of 3G coverage (which I could tolerate); it was a complete loss of all coverage, I couldn't text or make calls.

Which brought me to the realization that I get pretty freaked out without my cellphone, especially when delivering. Which brings us to another fun fact: when I'm a little freaked out I imagine horrible scenarios for myself and then calm myself down by reassuring myself of the statistical improbability of those scenarios. Every time I have to deliver down a country road at night I imagine that they are going to kill me. And then I remind myself that if they halfway thought it through killing me would be dumb because the store has the adress where I went and at the very least the police will have a solid starting point in the search for my body. And then I remember that that means nothing, they could shove me in a car and drive 50 miles away. And then...

Well, you get the point. This goes on in my head EVERY time I make an after-dark delivery on a country road. All of which is exacerbated when I don't have my cellphone because the half of me calming the other half down doesn't have the argument (valid or not) that "at least you have your cellphone and could call for help."

Besides that I had a fantastic night. I took 10 deliveries which broke down nicely like this:
- 40% were $5 tips
- 40% were $2 tips
- 0% were stiffs

Came home with $44.

Damn straight this came from my iPhone

Sunday, October 4

An interview with a pizza-dude

This week I bring you a special blog, an interview with one of my Twitter friends who also delivers pizza and tweets about his tips. I hope you enjoy and check him out on Twitter under username DeliverAwayDebt.

Name: Jeff Kosola
Age: 33
City: Livonia, MI
Where you work: GM and Fat Kats Pizza (an independant pizza shop)

1. How did you settle on pizza delivery as a second job?
I'd been listening to Dave Ramsey (Financial Dude) for a little while and he suggested that delivering pizzas was a great part-time job. I was looking for a way to pay off some debt and it sounded fun. I had never worked in the service industry before so I figured I'd give it a try. Plus I could work my day job, deliver pizzas, and still have a little time to be with my family.
2. Do you find that stereotypes are applied to you as a delivery driver? Do any actually apply to you?
The biggest stereotype I run into is that all drivers smoke pot. I've had multiple people try to pay for their food in pot. I don't smoke pot and never really had any interest in it. Now drinking on the other had...Scotch, Scotch, Scotch, I love Scotch :-)

3. Does your store have any female delivery drivers?
When my store first opened, all the drivers were women. We currently have one female driver right now. When I first started at Fat Kats I used to get people saying "can you send the cute girl next time." My reply was always the same. "I'll put on my skirt and wig for you next time."

4. What's your favorite type of pizza or pizza toppings?
I love to make a Philly steak pizza. Thin crust, no sauce, garlic butter all over the stretched dough. A light coating of cheese and topped with steak and green peppers. The crust is rimmed with Cajan/Butter/Garlic. OMG is it freakin' good.

5. Your twitter name is DeliverAwayDebt, what else are you doing towards that goal? Has it been hard so far to resist spending the money on other things?
I'm looking into other means of making money. I think blood plasma may be next. Twitter name @bloodmoney, I like the sound of that. Paying down my debt with blood money :-) It use to be hard not to spend the money on cool things, but I have a ton of debt to get rid of so my wife and I are very determined. Once I'm paid off, then we can get some cool things.

6. What do you think of tipping as a whole? Would you rather have a potentially lower total pay that's guaranteed than the inconsistency that comes with relying on tips?
I deliver to alot of the same people every weekend. Getting to know them has proved to help the tip totals. I would not rather have a guaranteed rate. Half the fun of delivering is the unknown of the tip amount. I'd have nothing to tweet about if I always received the same pay.

7. What is the pay scheme where you work (base hourly, gas reimbursement, etc)?
We get $6 per hour and a $1.50 per delivery. We charge $3 for delivery so I make a portion of it. I use to work at a major chain that gave us $1 per delivery. That sucked because our delivery area was HUGE. I was rolling in a H3 hummer at the time and boy did that thing suck the gas.

8. What have you found to be a normal tip amount for your area? What do you consider to be an acceptable tip amount?
The tips around here depend on the season. $2 to $3 is normal in the spring and summer. $3-$6 is normal in the winter. I think $3-$5 is a good tip amount. Even before I started delivering I would tip at least $5.

9. What's the craziest delivery you've ever taken, good or bad?
I delivered to a hotel where 3 hookers answered the door with the money stuck to their boobs. I kindly took the money, washed my hands and laughed the whole way back to the store.

10. Will you continue delivering once your debt has been paid off?
Hell no. I do plan to franshise with my current employer and get into the Pizza business. I work in the automotive business now and there is no future here. I really like the pizza world and I've always wanted have a small business.