8 Things I Learned From Delivering Pizza in High School

After seeing Reader Digest's recent list of 13 things your pizza guy won't tell you, it only seemed fitting to start reflecting on my high school days as a pizza delivery driver. Even though pretty much everything in the article was dead on, I felt like they missed some of the big picture lessons you acquire while motoring around in a 1987 Toyota Corolla passing out pies to an extremely odd cross section of strangers. Nothing brings people from all economic classes together quite like the magic of having pizza delivered to your front door. So, from suburban villas to dilapidated trailers, here are 8 pieces of wisdom I gained from delivering pizza while in high school. [via dailyfork]

1) Getting customers their pizza as quickly as possible is rarely a priority.

Even though your job is specifically to deliver customers their pizza as quickly as possible, the reality is, they're the ones that are in a hurry, not you. Obviously the sooner you get there the better chance you have of getting a healthy tip, but if you can take two or three orders in one go, that will always trump one prompt delivery. Add to that the fact that many stores are often understaffed during off hours and there's a good chance the next time you're sitting at home wondering "what is taking this pizza so long?" the answer is you're unlucky enough to be the last of the three customers being serviced on the same trip.

2) Some people are incapable of being embarrassed.

Shame exists for a reason. It's the instinct that tells us to put on pants before leaving the house even if we're only going out to check the mail, and it's a trait you typically just expect most people to have. Unfortunately, the more you find yourself knocking on someone's door the more you realize some people just don't care what you see them doing. Seeing people sans pants, draped in bath robes, or looking like they'd just been double teamed by a couple of burly truckers is considerably more common than anyone would ever care to imagine. It's almost like people placed an order and then forgot someone was coming over.

3) Stoners are usually more generous people than the wealthy.

The wealthy didn't make it to the top by just giving money away. Fortunately, there's a whole different breed of laid back people who've cultivated a habit of passing things around. More often than not it seemed like the best tips would come from some shady looking dude who'd just hand over a bunch of crumpled up bills and give an enthusiastic, "thanks a lot man," before telling you to go ahead and keep the change. When you'd finally get the money organized enough to give it a quick count, it would turn out you'd just scored a $12 tip on a $23 order. Compare this to the house one neighborhood over with a Mercedes in the driveway that graciously gave you $45 on their order of $43.85.

4) People who are hungry can be real assholes.

Accidents happen and orders get mixed up. Sometimes they're worse than others, but at the end of the day it's still just a freakin' pizza. Nevertheless, some people simply cannot cope with things not going their way. I'd usually chalk it up to hunger, and that's the only reason for not just making this lesson a blanket statement that "people can be real assholes." Still, hungry or not, there is no reason to go yelling at someone who had minimal involvement with your order in the first place just because you requested mushrooms on half the pizza and ended up getting them on the entire thing. It's too bad someone screwed up, but if you aren't willing to deal with it and discuss your options moving forward then you're pretty much just acting like a total dick.

5) There are two types of employees: students and lifers.

This is pretty much true of any low-paying job. The staff was comprised of about 50% high school students and 50% "career" employees, and the latter group might as well have tattooed a pizza wheel on their arm with cursive text reading "slicing is life." For myself, and the other high school students, it was a decent job where you could drive around listening to music and score the occasional $12 tip from a pothead with questionable math skills. For the others, it seemed to be a somber reminder that things hadn't quite turned out they way they'd intended. Needless to say the two groups really didn't mix.

6) After 1:00 am, trailer parks can be a terrifying place.

There are plenty of trailer parks you might question setting foot in during daylight hours, but after about 1:00 am you become convinced you're going to end up being some strange taxidermy project for a family right out of The Hills Have Eyes. This might have to do with certain class stereotypes, but more likely it has everything to do with the fact that many trailer parks have absolutely zero lighting and tend to include "roads" that loop awkwardly through a maze of mobile homes. Combine the innate fear of the dark with the vulnerability of not knowing where you are, and this is a situation that's better just being avoided altogether.

7) Female employees in male dominated jobs are essentially deemed
"default hot."

Much like the student versus lifer distinction, the premise of "default hot" holds true for other jobs as well. I'm guessing every pizza place has at least one female employee who is considerably more attractive than all the others. She might not actually be that good looking, but it doesn't matter. If you had a job where you only got paid in pennies, finding a quarter would be like winning the lottery. It's all relative. And, because this one female has the dubious honor of being deemed "default hot" by every male employee at the store (most likely including the creepy store manager who has a daughter the same age) she is rewarded with what could easily be considered non-stop sexual harassment.

8) Pizza is not a substitute for a babysitter.

This lesson is pretty self-explanatory, but the number of kids who had been left with nothing but a pre-signed check from their parents is absolutely appalling. I'm all for giving your kids a nice long leash and teaching them to be responsible, but leaving them home alone and then telling them to call a stranger to come stop by seems like some pretty sketchy parenting. It's one thing to leave an 8- or 9-year-old alone while you run to the store, but if you decide it's time for a little sans-child date night you might want to shell out some money for a legit sitter and just go with DiGiorno instead. I hear it's basically like delivery anyway.

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