The thrill of the open(ish) road. The gentle, lingering smell of mozzarella and sauce. And the sweet, sweet dosh. This is the life of the American pizza driver. Or it’s something like that, anyway.
At the beginning of the semester, I got a job at a local pizza place. I’ll leave out the name, not because I have anything really negative to say about them, but more because I doubt they’d care to be the subject of some dumb former pizza guy’s article, and hey, never burn bridges dude. Anyway, going into it, I had this pre-conceived picture in my head of what a pizza guy was. Laid back as hell, just driving around town, scoring tips and delivering sweet, greasy goodness to the needy and heavily intoxicated. This isn’t entirely wrong. What I didn’t expect was that hey, you’re not delivering all the time, so you’re also gonna be a dishwasher, a cashier, an assorted Italian food preparer, and, at the end of the night, a janitor. Pretty much, whatever needs to be done just short of actually making pizzas, though I think one of my fellow drivers did that too sometimes. This being my only experience with the food service industry, I was wholly unprepared. My first dinner rush, as my shift-runner and sole scheduled co-worker flew around running the place, I was in a daze. Could I get back in my car? It was much calmer in there and the seats were heated.
But eventually I got used to it. Not to say that I feel any better about some of it. That first shift, I screwed up a sandwich so badly the customer wanted their money back. And I still don’t know how to make that sandwich. But hey, I can make wings and deal with the oven and take calls. I don’t know what percentage of the whole the known versus unknown is at my leaving, but I can say securely that it’s probably maybe passing. I just hope there’s a curve.
The work had its ups and downs, but I think, in the end, the ups generally outweighed the downs. Driving was just as awesome as I had expected it to be, and my coworkers were all great, and very accommodating of my incessant idiocy. Rushes were stressful, yeah, and I think I’ll have nightmares about cleaning stacks of sheet pizza trays for a long time. But holy crap, tips were great. I don’t know if it was just me and my obvious and endearing charm, but I made stupid money. Like, $15 an hour after tips some nights. Obviously it fluctuated, with some nights having two deliveries over seven hours, but that wasn’t the norm.
But as the weeks progressed, my acclimation to the pizza world was accompanied by a gradual shift in priorities away from schoolwork, which you can probably guess is a terrible freaking thing. I feel that being in an environment like that for an extended period of time – a place of actual business and people working actual, full time jobs –lets the lifestyle carve for itself a place of prominence within your head, setting up neon signs that say, “Hey moron, important thing here.” You get so used to paychecks and schedules and your job responsibilities that it’s difficult to take a step back and think, “Okay, this is a part-time job. I’m paying ridiculous sums to go to college, freaking prioritize.” And in the end, after a tenuous and shaky academic effort, I didn’t trust myself to be able to continue to do that. So after something like two months (I know, I’m totally a veteran), I gave my two-week’s notice and left.
I think, despite all that, working there was a great experience, and I think I grew a lot doing it. I’ll miss the money and the people, for sure, but in the end I know leaving was for the best. And so ends my fling with delivery. But hey, if pizza and cash sound good to you, and you think you can handle the hell out of it, one more position in the business just opened up.
Aho is a member of
the class of 2017.