In the 1980s I put in a couple of years working for a well-known national pizza chain (hint: red, white, and blue) as a delivery driver in the Wedgwood area, and a whole day working for a local pizza chain that was rapidly declining (which is why I left — they were so obviously doomed. Seattleites with long memories might know the chain I mean). So I thoroughly enjoyed The Pizza Man Always Rings Twice in City Pages. Yes, I too was a “pizza man” — though not, technically, a man.
“CP: The Onion once ran a story with the headline ‘Everyone Involved in Pizza’s Preparation, Delivery, Purchase Extremely High.’ What do you say to that?
“Mr. Blue: I’d say 30 to 40 percent of our customer base is high. Cooks, maybe 60 percent.”
I have to laugh, because working for the corporate pizza chain that I did (“low-caste” as the article puts it), I didn’t see a lot of the craziness that these guys talk about, but I certainly heard stories.
We didn’t get to hang out in the bar waiting for a page to deliver pizza like one of these guys did; we had to sweep floors, fold boxes, and assemble pizzas. Look busy, in other words. And we had to wear the godforsaken hat and the shirt, always tucked-in to the corporate-approved blue pants. My small rebellion was to remove the hat immediately, as soon as I was out of the parking lot. I might put it on as I went up to the customer’s door, but while I was in the car, no hat, stereo cranked loud, a slice of pizza and a Coke taken from the store, it was a pretty good job.
I kept my tips in a snow boot that sat on the floor of my 1970 Mazda. I did OK. As the article mentions, you could live a reasonable slacker lifestyle at the time on 2 1/2 shifts a week. I was probably working 4 part-time shifts, which is about equal to that. The base pay was $4.10 (I got up to $4.35 before I left! Woo!) but the tips made a big difference. So always tip your pizza man, who brings you tasty pizza when you’re too lazy to cook!
One of my fondest memories is of the Dough Wars between our store and the other pizza chain store across the street. We would throw doughballs at them, they would throw them back at us. I envied their drivers because they could wear jeans and untucked shirts. And no hat, I think. So when we threw the doughballs at them, we aimed to do damage. The fun ended when a regional boss visited the store and found a doughball in our parking lot.
I never was robbed. I also never had anyone open the door naked or anything like that. I generally felt pretty safe delivering pizza (though this site says it’s the third most dangerous job as far as the risk of on-the-job-murder is concerned), and rather enjoyed the job. If not for the damned hat… Seriously, if you have to get a food service job, it’s not a bad one. You spend most of your time in your car playing music — can’t beat that. And I never did get tired of eating pizza.
Along with the article, City Pages also has a new blog by pizza drivers, but there isn’t much in it yet. If you want to read more ranting about the world of delivery drivers, see Andy’s Rant Pages instead.
Somewhat off-topic: Would someone please open a decent pizza delivery joint in Southeast Seattle? All we get here is Domino’s and Pizza Hut. And Mad Pizza — which I usually like when I eat in their store, but for some reason the pizzas they’ve brought us have been pretty bad. Why does Pagliacci not deliver to us? Scared of South Seattle? Jeez.