Tuesday, March 30

A Weeks Worth of Shifts

I've been worse at blogging my shifts for the past week than I've ever been in the year and half I've been delivering. It's not that interesting things haven't been happening, I suppose it's that my personal life has been very distracting; when I'm happy, going to work is this big pain, I'm there just as long as it takes for me to beg to sent home; when I'm upset, it's the only place I want to be, the routine of folding boxes, cutting pizzas, driving. Neither lends itself to observation or blogging. I didn't even Twitter last nights shift because I was so out of it texting one of the boys that's been distracting me, everything was a blur except that, my deliveries are acutely bound up in whether our conversation was on an up hill or not.

1st delivery, I know I took one, I know it was to an apartment, can't remember it, it's gone.
2nd delivery, he starts talking to me, mood up.
3rd delivery, forgot the soda, went back to the store, picked up two more deliveries while there, conversation has naturally turned to us, why it would almost be easier if I could be mad at him, and him...well, not understanding why covering one irrational emotion (hope) with another (anger) would make anything better.
4th delivery, try to stop this all in its tracks, this conversation happens over and over again, doesn't change how either of us feels.
5th delivery, conversation dead end, want to go home and sulk, the store isn't the right retreat for some reason, but my roommate has invited my ex over for TV night, so home isn't a retreat either, went to the bookstore and blew most of my tips ($18 of 22) on books, which made me feel better.

The shifts before that:.

Saturday night there was a UFC fight going which started at 9, so we had a late 3rd rush that management wasn't prepared for. I stayed the latest I've ever stayed at this store. I delivered to our local sports bar which was packed. Lots of drunk people offered to pay for the pizza, which made it doubly difficult to find whoever actually ordered it.

I delivered to a guy that was very very high, not weed high, he was high on something that was causing some seriously bipolar behavior. MamaBear warned me he was belligerent and possibly dangerous. I cash-dropped all but my bank before I went, texted my dangerous-delivery buddy when I got there, left the phone in the car, put my pepper spray in my pocket, and made the delivery. The guy who came to the door was very calm, too calm. He could barely string words together and after a half-hearted attempt to pull the "we didn't order pizza but I'll pay you half what the bill is" scam, he turned over the money and even tipped me $2. Per Mama Bear, between the time I dropped that one off and the time I got back to the store after two more deliveries, he called three more times. First he wanted them to deliver another pizza; then he wanted us to deliver nothing but bacon; the last call was nothing but screaming and yelling and complaining. I made $66 off 18.

Before that $39 on 8. I think they were pretty uneventful except getting winked at.

Before that $14.70 off 3. Can't remember a single one.

Sunday, March 21

3/20 My Baby Hungry

Last night was a good night. The tips were better than they have been. Even when I screwed up (and grabbed the wrong delivery) I was able to just brush it off, fix it, pay out the tips I owed the other drivers for helping me fix it, and move on. Even didn't mind doing some dishes.

Amusing things:
  • Two different customers with the same "Got Dirt?" doormat.
  • The following note in the delivery note section "Please hurry my baby hungry". They pretipped a dollar. I laughed a lot (and still made sure they were fourth on my quad).
  • On my first quad I had three deliveries to the same apartment complex. Due to the burden of getting all four orders into the car, the bag on the bottom ended up upside down. It was my first delivery in the quad. The dude was pretty cool with it. I profusely apologized and offered to call in a remake and still let him have that one. He looked at the pizza (which wasn't too bad given the circumstances) and decided to go ahead and accept the delivery.
  • On another one of the deliveries to the apartment complex someone ordered one of the sodas that we don't keep cold (because, seriously, NO ONE ever orders them and corporate made us buy two cases for a dumb online promotion). I grabbed him a couple of extra ones since they weren't cold.
  • One of our new drivers, hereby dubbed Boombox Driver, is geeky-cute and has a boombox tattoo on the back of this calf.
  • Name Bopper has challenged me to learn all the names of the people in the store. I have so far declined. There are a lot of them. But he's amusing and made me learn his name so now every time I walk by he says, "Hi, [PizzaGirl]" and then covers his nametag until I say, "Hi, [Name Bopper]."
  • A $7 tip. She pretipped $2 and when I got to the door she said, "Oh, hello, pizzaGirl!" and after I gave her the pizza she turned around and said to the kids, "Don't you think we should get the pizzagirl more tip?" and the little boy went to get his wallet in the most adorable way ever but his mom waved him off and handed me a five dollar bill.
  • A guy who asked me what kind of car I drive before deciding to tip me $4. I don't mind admitting what I drive and was thankful for the tip especially since their delivery was late (and I got turned around and lost on the way).
A couple of things that did not amuse me:
  • Two or three "Gee, it's cold out." Inevitably they came from the people who only tipped two dollars (including the $1 hungry baby asshat).
  • A stray dog followed me up to a house. I'm pretty good with dogs, but I always get a little nervous. I wished that I had my pepper spray on me just in case, but it was in the car.
I ended up with $73 off of 16 deliveries.

Saturday, March 20

3/19 Observations of Humans

As I get a glimpse into other people's lives I wonder if there's something about them that I can use to figure out if they are happy. I try to figure out if all these sour looking women I deliver to are happy. Have they given up on trying to find happiness? Do they just have a different definition of happiness? The woman with an accent and a mustache who's husband didn't kiss her on the way in the door, does he still love her? Does she love him? Does he step out on her? Would she care if he did? The lady with the immaculately clean house and perfect decor and tasteful (still alive) houseplants, is she happy? I wonder if I walked through these people's houses if I could divine from their possessions if they're happy. I wonder what the woman with the tired eyes looks like when she's smiling. I wonder how many of these people settled for their lives with cars and houses and children and spouses. How many wanted to travel? How many wanted to do something great and never did? How many feel trapped?

I spent last night asking all of these questions to myself at each delivery. Well, except the delivery where they weren't home. That sucked. Apparently they called from two towns over and planned to get there before I did. They didn't. They threatened to call corporate even though Mama Bear offered to give them the pizza for free (which they don't deserve!). Speaking of Mama Bear (and Little Yellow), I think they were being extra nice to me last night because I was fighting tears all night. Maybe they realized that I wanted to be there; it was the best place for me.

I made $28 off of 8 deliveries, a crappy $2.21 per delivery.

Tuesday, March 16

3/15 Banana Peppers

I hadn't worked a Monday before at the new store. I can't say I was impressed. One of the Boppers has made me learn his name; now that I know his name, I'm finding it impossible to come up with a nickname for him. We all stood around folding boxes for a long time. Apparently Calico got there an hour before I did and still hadn't taken a delivery. There wasn't much to do besides fold boxes. Eventually some deliveries came up. Mama Bear told me to route myself (mwahahaha) and I routed myself a double that probably shouldn't have gone together but my instinct was that I wasn't going to get very many deliveries anyway.

My first delivery was to a street I didn't have to look up. I love knowing where streets are without having to look on the map. It was one pizza, the house was for sale (in a rather nice neighborhood), she tipped $2. I was okay with it because $2 on a $13 order is 15% and despite the fact that I think it's an unacceptable tip, I realize that customers often justify it with the percentage comparison. There's your first clue that I was in a good mood.

My second delivery was to an apartment complex (which I also didn't have to look up!). I also knew the numbering scheme for this complex so I was able to beeline to the correct building. They tipped $5. I remembered the sauce cups. Their little dogs watched me from the balcony as I walked off. I felt good about the delivery.

And then I got sent home, but not before Mama Bear let me make a pizza to take home with me. I decided to try banana peppers on a slice. I highly recommend them if you like pickles. They're halfway between a pickle and a jalapeno. I can't say that I'd want them on a pizza all the time, but I'm already thinking of topping combinations in my head that will compliment the flavor instead of being overwhelmed by it. I'm also thinking of hiding them under the cheese as delicious little surprises instead of letting them be pretty and flamboyantly radioactive looking on top of the cheese.

I made $10 off of 2 deliveries.

Monday, March 15

3/12 3/13 The other side of the tipping education coin

I suppose I haven't been very good about blogging my shifts lately. First, I've been trying to get out of them altogether for various reasons. Second, those various reasons have tended to carry on into the days even that I have to work and the times when I would normally put fingers to keyboard and get this all out.

Friday night went pretty well. I wasn't technically scheduled this week because somehow I managed to fall out of the computer system. With that said, Little Yellow still wanted me to show up for some shifts which I dutifully did. I showed up Wednesday but it was monstrously slow, so I got sent home without a single delivery.

Friday went a little better. My first delivery was to a scammer. I suppose I could have stopped it had I paid attention to my driver sheet, but I was in a hurry to get to my second delivery. Basically they said that they were quoted $15.99 for the total when that was the price of a single pizza. I figured that they simply didn't put the discount code in. In reality they should have gotten a discount anyway, they ordered an XL cheese pizza and the phone person was going to let them pay full price for it when we are constantly running ridiculous specials that knock 3 or four dollars off that price and include toppings. They gave me a $20 anyway (which covered the original charge but just barely), so I figured if Little Yellow didn't fix it I'd just end up with no tip but not wasting my time sticking around to find out. Chances are if he hadn't adjusted the price I would have ended up with no tip anyway. I ended up with $30 off of 6 deliveries.

Saturday night was slow again. There seems to be some sort of epic conference/festival going on in downtown Austin. I assume that everyone who wasn't ordering pizza was there. I took four deliveries including one to an office building where they had not left a suite number of business name. I wandered around knocking on all the doors. It was awesome. Like my own miniature scavenger hunt... except that I had the soda on top of the hotbag and ended up buckling the box (the pizza wasn't actually damaged but customers can be whiny bitches about things like bent pizza boxes). I also delivered some wings to a very nice old man who had tipped $2 online and then handed me $2 at the door. He was only having wings delivered so I would have made an exception to the $3 rule. I felt bad since he obviously didn't understand how pre-tipping works, but at the same time, if I'm not allowed to educate customers on under-tipping, why should I educate them on over-tipping? Made $18 off of 4 deliveries.

Sunday, March 7

Guest Blog: Chad Taylor vs. God

In lieu of my normal shift blog, I'd like to bring you a special guest blog from Chad Taylor, one of my fellow delivery people on Twitter, who recently had an unpleasant experience with a church (even worse than the one that I had):

The things you’re about to read are entirely my own fault.

One of the things that I find most galling in life are people who manage to get sanctimonious about trivial matters . One of the things that people manage to get the MOST sanctimonious about—on both sides of the debate—is tipping. You can imagine, then, how thick the irony gets around my place sometimes, seeing as I work for tips.

There’s a segment of the population that doesn’t believe in tipping, or at least not in tipping as a matter of course or social obligation. Those people are largely empty headed troglodytes who also probably still refer to African Americans as “coloreds”, but that’s neither here nor there. If you want to debate the social and philosophical merits of tipping, you’ve come to the wrong place. I’m not here to sell you on the idea that it’s a good or bad practice; the simple fact of the matter is that—whether you like it or not—there are certain jobs that are created under the assumption of tips as a source of income. The employers set pay rates under the assumption of tips and the people who work them take those jobs because of those tips. So, until the righteously indignant among you can band together and get a new law passed, the light-of-day truth of the matter is that there are times when you’re socially expected to throw an extra dollar or two at someone else.

However (and here is where the “my fault” part comes in), just because the social expectation is there, doesn’t mean you’re legally or contractually obligated to fulfill it. Most people do; some don’t to it as well as we’d like, and others ignore it completely. Stiffs are a part of the job and as someone who works for tips, I understand that and have accepted MY social expectation to not bitch too loudly about it. I’ve been stiffed on delivers of $40, $50…my previous high was an $84.72 order who handed me a $100 and asked for exact change back. You just put your hands in your pockets, turn on a heel and go back to the shop for the next delivery. There was a story in the news last month about a 22 year old kid in Chicago who delivered a pizza to a house and wound up getting assaulted by the customer and going home with a black eye. He had my sympathy until I read the part of the story where he bitched about getting stiffed. The customer said he was rude and the kid replied that his demeanor is directly tied to the size of the tip. Now while that may be true and while he certainly didn’t deserve to get punched in the face for admitting it, he was also completely in the wrong for opening his pie hole and admitting it, rather than just getting in his car without a word said.

So it’s my fault that the Catholic church wants to see me fired.

Long story short (because none of you care to see how this particular sausage is made, you just want to know how it tastes), one of the local Catholic churches called on a Friday and placed orders for the following Monday and Tuesday to feed the gaggle of 150 or so kids who attend their school. Each order was for 43 pizzas and because we’re a bunch of good hearted sons of bitches, we gave them the sweetheart deal of $8.40 per pizza. I know. When the negotiating was all over and the total was rung up, each days order came to just over $360, plus the $1.75 delivery charge which, in the face of 43 pizzas and 5 long bags, seemed for the first time to be woefully inadequate.

The Monday of the first delivery came and I showed up at 10 to help the one insider we had scheduled toss, top, cook, cut and box everything. We’ve got a two oven stack set up where I work and both ovens were on so we had pies coming off both conveyers at the same time making for a pretty break-neck pace. Finally everything was boxed and put into long bags when it then occurred to me for the first time that I had no idea how to logistically fit 5 long bags into my car at one time. Son of a bitch. Thankfully there was juuuuust enough room, but it took some pretty advanced Tetris techniques. The real Tetris. None of that Tetris Worlds, infinite-spin bullshit.
I hopped into the driver’s seat, rolled down the windows to get some relief from the sauna-like conditions that 40 or so hot pizzas tends to create in a tiny space, and zipped away to their final destination. Nobody at the church was all that interested in helping me unload, so it took about 20 minutes for three trips back and forth to get all the bags from the car to the kitchen where I was staging everything, unloading the bags, placing the pizzas in stacks of 5, packing the long bags back up and returning them to the car. When it was all said and done, I went back inside one last time to get the payment.

A quick side note: When people ask me what a “good” tip is, I usually tell them to start with $2, then add $2 per pizza. Using that method for this order, you’d come to $88. Most restaurants, when seating unusually large groups, will automatically attach a gratuity to the final bill. This number ranges, depending on geographic location and quality of establishment, but is usually right around 19%. 19% of $362.95 is $68.96. I knew both of those numbers were highly unlikely. Churches, for all the preaching of Christian charity, don’t tend to be all that giving to things they can’t publicize and I’d delivered enough smaller orders to church groups to know that they don’t tend to be spectacular tippers. Given all that, I expected $20 or so to be added to the check, a number that was low considering the effort and size of the order, but still a good way to start my day.

So you can imagine my chagrin when handed a check for exact change.

Now as I said about the kid in Chicago who got punched in the face, a drivers place is not to bitch and moan about not getting tipped. True to that form, I bit my lip, pocketed the check and walked away. If the story ended there, well, I’d have just wasted about 10 minutes of your time. But as it turns out, I get to waste 5 MORE minute of your time, because it turns out that getting stiffed on $360 is the kind of thing that tends to fester in a person. So while I continued delivering my mind kept going back to that check in my back pocket and the realization that I was going to do exactly the same thing tomorrow for exactly the same tip. Finally, something in me switched. I couldn’t let this stand without comment.

My goal wasn’t to demand that I be tipped. I’m not sure what I was completely expecting to accomplish, other than to make it known to someone just how egregious the oversight was. While I had delivered to a specific church, the check I was given had been written straight from the local Diocese. So I called the Diocese.

Before calling, I had given myself a couple hours to come down from my initial, frothing rage, and had carefully thought out what I was going to say. When the nice lady answered the phone, I did not rant, I was not filled with sturm und drang, and I didn’t tell them to fuck themselves with a poorly sanded crucifix. No! I simply and calmly explained that I had delivered a flying buttload of pizzas to a church that shall remain named Mary of Nazareth, and that I hadn’t been tipped for the effort. The nice lady suggested that perhaps the good people at this unnamed church assumed that a tip had been included in the final price they were quoted and weren’t actually unthinking, miserly antitheses to charity and goodwill. I entertained that it was possible and went on to say that I wasn’t calling to try and get a tip after the fact, but rather to let everyone know what’s what so that, if nothing else, they’d know in the future that tips are never automatically added without the customers knowledge and so maybe the next poor sap who single handed delivered Little Italy to these people might get a couple scheckles in his pocket. The nice lady agreed that it was indeed a rather egregious oversight, and promised to let the proper people know. I hung up and assumed the matter closed.

Closed, that is, until Wednesday, when the director of the church’s school called my shop and spoke to the shift manager. She said that she had gotten a call from the Diocese pointing out that the driver hadn’t been tipped for the two pizza deliveries and that she found having her skin-flint ways pointed out to her to be highly embarrassing and rude. She then leveled the thinly-veiled threat that if they were to consider placing any future orders with our establishment, that decision would be greatly influenced by whether or not I was no longer employed there. That’s right, the Catholic church found me to be such an abomination, they asked for my head. Now I know how Copernicus felt.

It should also be noted that, while calling me rude and asking if I could please be fired, they also tacitly admitted that not tipping me was a shitty thing to do by telling the shift manager that they would be mailing an additional check to the store that was to be “given to the driver as you see fit.”

As it stands right now, I’m not fired. That, however, could be subject to change. The owners of my shop, while being wonderful people, also tend to be the kind of people who administer pounds of cure rather than ounces of prevention. If the church decides to press the point, I will most likely be shown the door. Until then, I’m still earning my ones of dollars right along with the other drivers.

I wish I had some little moral to tie this all together with for you. Some kernel of truth that I learned about the world, or some lasting change that was brought about because of my actions. Sadly, there is none. The only thing my phone call changed is that some incredibly cheap bastards are parting with a little extra money and, as a consequence, I’ll probably buy Mass Effect 2. I know, it’s not exactly Avicenna waxing poetic about the inherent duality of man, but my X-Box won’t play The Book of Healing, so I guess it’ll have to do.

Friday, March 5

3/4 In which I make exactly $30.52

In case you haven't seen it on Twitter, I got a new tattoo (Wednesday night) of a little slice of pizza. I don't expect to delivering pizza for the rest of my life, but I do love pizza. It is part of me and has changed me for the better. My slice reminds me of that.

Last night went well. I took 8 deliveries but only went on two runs. I think two quick quads is a great way to make some money; get in and get out. Yelling Manager insisted on cashing me out to the quarter. I owed the store $25.48. I handed over $25. This is normal procedure. The store doesn't want to deal with coins, I don't want to deal with coins, and in the long run it works out about even (if you want to know how ALL waiters/waitresses/pizza delivery people feel about coins you need to watch YourDailyTip's quick video on it). Anyway, he wanted $25.50. I protested. He insisted. So when I handed him $26 and when he handed me back two quarters, I made him open the cash register back up and give me two pennies to go with it.

I made $30.52 off of 8 deliveries for exactly $2.525 average tip per delivery.

Monday, March 1

2/26 A Very Smooth Shift

Friday went very smoothly. I had 13 deliveries and, except for the last one, none were remarkable. I'm getting to know our delivery area better and that is making it easier to take four and five deliveries at a time and still get them there in a reasonable amount of time. I'm getting used to apartment complexes and the peculiarities of their numbering schemes. At the last one the guy pulled the "we didn't order any pizza" joke. I don't think I can adequately convey how not-funny that joke is. It's not funny to me in particular because I have on rare occasion ended up at the wrong house.

I made $53 off of those 13 deliveries, an average tip of $2.79 per delivery.