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.