Confessions (and Gripes) of a Pizza Delivery Driver

See, I told you I’d (eventually) write posts that aren’t political in nature. I’ve had this on my mind for awhile, and I wanted to share it before I forget them all.

If you don’t talk with me or see me regularly, it’s worth mentioning that I work at a pizza place on the weekends. For my own sake, I won’t mention the name of it, but let’s just say its a national chain whose name is fatherly in nature. So anyway, I’ve been compiling a list of things that I wanted to share with the average customer to better help them to understand things, and to (hopefully) give a better appreciation for delivery drivers in general. I now present to you, in no particular order: Confessions (and Gripes) of a Pizza Delivery Driver.

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1. For the most part, I like my job. This is more of a personal thing than it is to say of drivers in general, so keep that in mind. The people I work with are good people. We all realize that making pizza is not exactly the most cheery of jobs, so we try our best to be optimistic and make working there as positive as it can be. So if I get to your door and I look tired, it’s not because I hate my job (or my life, for that matter). It’s likely because I’ve just dealt with traffic or another bad customer or I’m thinking about a billion other things at the same time. That being said, I do my best to be positive, polite, and kind to all my customers, and it’s very rare that I’m ever visibly in a bad mood.

2. Believe it or not, I actually like the food we make. I used to dislike my particular workplace as a pizza choice, but I’ve come to realize over the past year of my employment there that the ingredients we use are the best, and I’m not just saying that for the sake of marketing. I tend to work day shift on the weekends, which means I get to prep most of the ingredients that we put on pizzas (meats, cheeses, vegetables, sauces, etc), so I have firsthand experience with our product and I know that every pizza is getting quality ingredients. I can’t speak for any other pizza chains, because I’ve only ever worked at this one, but I personally vouch for our food, even when someone asks me off the clock what I think of it.

teen-pizza-balls-arrested3. The customer is not always right. I’m sorry, but they just aren’t. Granted, the customer is usually right, in the sense that whatever problem they’re having, we can typically fix it for them without too much hassle. But I have dealt with customers before that said one thing and did another, and in those cases, they were 100% wrong. Period. That doesn’t mean that I won’t try my best to give you great customer service, but I’m limited by the information I’m given and by my ability to make major changes to an order or to fix some complex problem. So if you make a scene in front of me and expect me to do some kind of black magic to fix your problem (especially if your order is wrong and I don’t realize it until I’m at your front door), you’re going to be waiting a long time. Basically, just be nice. I understand that mistakes happen, but if you get irate over an order of cheese sticks, it’s not going to do anything except cause more unnecessary tension as I try to fix the problem.

4. When your pizza is late, it’s almost never the driver’s fault. I don’t say this to pass blame onto someone else, but it is an important point to make. There are a multitude of things that can make your delivery late, and most of them are out of a driver’s control. For one thing, if you order when it’s busy, it’s likely that your pizza is going to take longer than usual to get to you. That’s because there are only so many drivers and there are usually more orders than drivers. So each one is taking two or three deliveries at a time, and your order might not be the first (or the closest to the store) that they deliver. We work on a system of first-come, first-serve. If your next-door neighbor ordered 2 minutes before you, they’re getting their food first. That’s just common business sense. As a caveat to this, it’s also worth mentioning that we make pizzas in the same way. Whatever order comes through first is the one we’re going to make first. So if you’re upset about your order being late, you should understand that we’re trying to serve each customer as quickly as possible. If you were the first customer, you’d want your food first, right? Right.

5. No, I am not a high school dropout who is going to work at a pizza place making minimum wage for the rest of my life. I’m actually a 21-year old college junior majoring in Communication Studies with a concentration in Journalism and double minors in Political Science and Philosophy & Law. I work two jobs (technically three, since I do freelance tech journalism occasionally). My job is temporary, just like the food I’m delivering to you. I think there’s this misconception about food service jobs that whoever works in them is automatically a failure in life, and that’s far from the truth. My sister worked at several fast food restaurants, and she’s about to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. My roommate used to work at a Zaxby’s, and he’s a Civil Engineering major. More often than not, food service jobs are just stepping stones for college kids who are trying to support themselves while they pursue their true career goals. My dream is to be a White House correspondent for a major news organization, and when I achieve that goal, you’re going to feel really dumb for saying that I’m lazy or that I don’t have the skills or knowledge to do anything positive with my life. This is more broad, and it covers all food service jobs, but I felt like it’s an important point to make. Beyond the fact that I’m a college student, what about the people who actually are going to work at McDonald’s forever? So what? Just because they work a minimum wage job doesn’t give you the right to look down on them or accuse them of being lazy. More often than not, the people working those jobs weren’t fortunate enough to be able to afford college, and they have to work extra hours just to put food on the table. Show some respect, because they’re still human beings and they deserve it regardless of their socioeconomic circumstance. Plus, without those people, your life would be a whole lot less convenient. Don’t take them for granted.

I’m going to move into gripes now, but I’ll try to limit the number of them (trust me, they are plentiful).

82608b10c733c93cd48b1902925689cb6. TIPPING SAVES LIVES! Okay not really, but tipping is important. You’d be surprised by the number of people who don’t tip a driver (or even know that they’re supposed to tip). Why should you tip? I’m glad you asked. Let’s break it down. When I’m in the store (read: not on a delivery), I make minimum wage, which is $7.25/hour. Not great, but cool. When I go on a delivery, I have to clock it out, and our systems count how long I’m on the road, down to the seconds. While I’m on the road, I make just over $4/hour. So not only do I make less when I’m delivering, I’m using my own gas to deliver your pizzas. Luckily my employer reimburses me for gas, but that doesn’t account for the extra $3 or so that’s missing from every hour I work. If I work on a busy night, I’m more or less on the road the entire time, so minimum wage doesn’t exist for me. Tips are supposed to make up for this difference. When you don’t tip a delivery driver, they’re essentially losing money. The same goes for servers in a restaurant, who actually make around $2/hour.

7. As far as percentages and amounts for tips go, everyone is different. Some people say you should tip 15%, others say more or less. Me? I’m not that picky. Throw a few bucks at me and I’ll be happy. Obviously the bigger your order, the more you should tip. Here’s a good/bad example: I delivered 34 pizzas to a football team at a hotel last weekend. Their total came to around $370, and the coach tipped me $20. If I was overly concerned with percentages, I’d point out that twenty bucks is less than 6% of a tip, which is way below what most people consider an acceptable amount. But in the grand scheme of things, $20 is still a big tip. I would’ve been fine with it if the team didn’t make me wait over an hour for them to get back to the hotel. But that’s another story for another day. The bottom line is customers should understand that without tips, drivers make almost no money. I’ve said before that if it weren’t for tips, I’d quit my job, because the paychecks are not significant enough to sustain a decent lifestyle. Of course, it would be nice to live in a system where I don’t have to worry about not making money, and where customers don’t have to spend extra money to subsidize an employee’s wages, but that’s not the point.

8. Get your information right the first time. This may seem like common sense, but I’ve seen so many orders where the customer’s address or phone number is wrong, which costs the driver time and money in the long run. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt if you order over the phone, because you’re dealing with a human, and mistakes happen. But if you place your order online, that’s all on you. If you can’t type your own address or phone number into a website correctly, you can’t get mad when your order is late because the driver couldn’t find your house. Period.

keep-calm-and-don-t-be-a-douchebag-29. Don’t be a douche. Just don’t. Please. I’ve had several customers who are just unnecessarily rude or douche-y for no reason. Look, I don’t care if you aren’t talkative or if you don’t like being polite. That’s fine, you do you. I’m not going to get upset if you don’t say anything to me and you just sign the receipt and take your food. But if you go out of your way to make me feel like I did something wrong, you’re the reason we can’t have nice things.

Here’s another example: I had one customer a few months ago sign a receipt (and not tip me, but whatever), and then call me back to his hotel room so that he could intentionally write “$0” on the line for a tip, as he said “I want to make sure nothing fishy happens here.” For the record, that particular customer used to be a regular, and he never tipped, so I wasn’t expecting one anyway. That being said, what’s your issue? If you’re that concerned that I’d write in a tip myself, which is actually illegal, you shouldn’t be paying with your credit/debit card in the first place. It’s one thing to not tip me, but it’s another to insinuate that I would commit what is essentially fraud just to get a few extra bucks.

Basically, just treat me with dignity and respect and you’ll get the same in return.

10. “30-minute delivery” does not exist anymore. It just doesn’t. It’s very rare that I get a customer’s order to them in under 20-25 minutes, and that number is even higher when it’s busy. When you place an order, whether online or over the phone, we quote you a time (usually 35-45 minutes unless it’s busy). Don’t expect your pizza in under 30 minutes, and don’t get irate and ask for some kind of discount because you didn’t get it in that time. Whatever time we give you is the time it will take. 30-minute delivery existed in the 90’s, but there are a lot more pizza places now, and we’re a lot busier than we were in the 90’s. Then there are standards and systems and all the things we do to make sure you’re getting quality over speed. Getting your pizza fast is great, but we’re more concerned with how your pizza tastes. You can wait an extra 5 or 10 minutes for a better quality pizza.

And that’s it! I wanted to keep the list fairly short, since each point is basically a small rant in and of itself. Any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below! And as always, like & share wherever you please!

For anyone hoping for more political posts, don’t worry — I’ll be posting more political nonsense again soon. Very soon.

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