25 Feb

Always tip the pizza man!

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.

6 thoughts on “Always tip the pizza man!

  1. What’s funny about this is that we were just discussing this very topic in my office, and we agreed that you do in fact ALWAYS tip the pizza guy, for the exact reasons you cite (especially at my place where the poor sop has to walk in from the front of the complex unless he’s lucky enough to surf in off of a neighbor arriving home)…but at the same time, any “delivery charges” levied by the restaurant come straight off of the tip.

    This, because my local Pizza Hut tacked on $1.60 to my order of a pizza and cheesy sticks yesterday. a BUCK-SIXTY. I can see 75 cents or so (and frankly, they ought to just include it in the markup, considering how much delivery buisiness these places do compared to pickup), but when you get over a buck, sorry, dude, I’m not paying you twice to bring me that thing.

    I still gave the guy almost two bucks, which I think is a reasonable tip for most any pizza order, but I may not be so generous next time, considering $3.60 on a $14 order (and you always compute tippage pre-tax, right?) is over 25%.

  2. Well, you might not know this, but… sometimes the “delivery fee” doesn’t go to the drivers at all. It depends on the store/company. At some places the driver gets the entire delivery fee; at others, it just goes into the store’s coffers. So before you decide to stiff the driver for that $1.60, find out what’s up. You might not be paying him twice at all.

    Also, some stores pay mileage and others don’t. In some stores the delivery fee is expected to cover the mileage payment; tips are on top of that. When I was at D*****’s we didn’t charge a delivery fee, and we got a mileage payment from the store as well. This was cool. But other stores definitely do this differently, so you might want to check into that.

    I almost always tip on the post-tax total, but this is because I used to live on tips. 🙂 Generally it is considered acceptable to tip pre-tax.

  3. I was a Pagliacci cook for a couple of years in college. That was one of the better jobs I’ve had. I don’t remember much in the way of shenanigans, though. As far as I know, none of us were ever high, except maybe one of the managers, who I’m pretty sure was dealing something in the alley on his breaks.

    Drivers who had been there a while knew that if you kicked some of the tips back to the cooks, your orders tended to come out in sequence, on time, cooked right. If you didn’t, you might find that your cluster of orders was made, not in the order that would get them all out of the oven around the same time, but in the order they came in, guaranteeing that at least one of your deliveries was of a not-as-fresh pizza. Getting the message to the newer drivers wasn’t easy, though. So, drivers: tip your cooks.

    And I always tip the cooks when I pick up a pizza now, but that’s just me. They always seem surprised, at least the first few times.

  4. Huh. I don’t recall anyone ever tipping cooks at D*****’s, and I was there for a couple of years. Good to know, on the off chance I ever end up delivering again.

    I do always tip at Pagliacci when I go in to eat. Not specifically for the cooks, though — just a general tip.

  5. Greetings Wendy,

    Thanks for letting people know the newspaper is dead. If you want to have a discussion about how much dough and perserverance it takes to get a newspaper up and running and into break even in this day and age, drop me an email. I’m not impressed with your reference to the continued presence of the Beacon Hill News in the market, it is shallow and betrays a real lack of understanding of the media market. Yeah, the Beacon Hill News has been around since 1924–longevity counts for a lot. Spend some time looking at ads in the Beacon Hill News and tell me how many of those ads come from cental and southeast Seattle. Size matters, and we didn’t have the size. Wallis

  6. I think this comment probably was intended to go under a different post here… anyway, I wasn’t intending my reference as a dig at you — I just thought the juxtaposition was funny, since the Beacon Hill News — boring and flawed as it may be — does still exist, so when you said in the next paragraph that a local paper couldn’t survive, it sounded quite odd. (By the way, I published a weekly music paper for a while in the late 80s, and wrote for a few other publications — all of which, I believe, are no longer publishing. It’s not as if I am unfamiliar with the issues surrounding this sort of thing.)

    I am disappointed the Star couldn’t keep going, because not only did I enjoy it, but there was a huge increase in quality at the Beacon Hill News after the Star started to compete. (Yes, not that that is saying much.) Without that competition, the News might just go back to what it used to be, which is completely useless.

    I do think that local papers need to reinvent themselves to grow and survive now. I certainly don’t have all the answers for how they should do so. I don’t believe it is impossible for them to survive, though.

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