Non-Euclidean Geometry In Pizza DeliveryFebruary 10, 2008 at 10:04 PM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | 1 Comment
I’ve been writing alot more and posting more on my blog. I don’t think it means I have more going on; it just means I have more to write. Euclidean geometry, children, is the stuff you learned in high school. Triangles, circles, lines and planes. Proofs, if you did those. Constructions, using a straight edge and a compass. The difference between Euclidean and non lies in one proof: Two parallel lines never intersect.
You might feel that instinctively this is true; nonetheless, to prove it mathematically is somewhat vexing. But in the real world, I have seen it disproven many times, especially in delivery. I can’t even count the number of streets that run parallel to each other right up to the point where they intersect. It’s like driving in an alternate universe.
There are three schools of thought when it comes to finding your way, by the way. Tell me which of these works for you.
a) Turn by turn (or the mapquest method): Turn right here, go down to this street, turn left-blah blah blah.
2) Geometric: Visualize the map and the shape of the path.
d) Counting: This is a hybrid, because it relies on the map, but you do turn by turn: go left, pass four streets: 1,2,3,4–then turn right.
All of these methods have their advantages and disadvantages. Mapquest and Microsoft maps and googlemaps, or whatever–they show you a map, but they give you turn by turn. I have worked in delivery since 1982, and I have lived by maps. Static maps, on the wall. You look at where you are going, and you memorize it. So, what are you memorizing? Well, I’m memorizing the MAP, the visual component. Some people look at it and memorize the directions.
The problem with that is, if you don’t memorize it properly or completely, you will get confused. I memorize the map, and so, if I get turned around, or pass up a street, I know where I am in relation to my destination. Of late, because I am now an old fuck, I have to add counting to my method because I have shit for night vision and can’t see street signs. But if I look at the map and count, I know that it’s the third street down, I don’t have to be able to see.
I’ve bragged on this shit before, how I know where everything is in the North County area, I’ve delivered here, there, and everywhere–so I won’t rehash. Except to tell this brief bit:
Back in the early 90s, I was working at Hazelwood, one of the busiest Domino’s in the area. This was before Papa John’s came to town, and before Pizza Hut actually knew how to deliver (Oh, they were doing it, but they were clumsy, inexperienced virgins at that time) and I was one of the star drivers. I say "one of" because we had about a half a dozen solid drivers like myself who could drive circles around anyone. And by the way, on a Friday night, there would be twenty drivers on the road. Those were the salad days….
I closed four nights a week and worked one late shift, with the manager cutting me off right at 40 hours. One night I closed was Monday. The manager would get rid of the last driver about nine, and it was just me for the rest of the night. Did I mention we still had the 30 minute guarantee at that time? Oh, yeah. You had to be good, because this was a matter of life and death…and numbers. Cash, sales, and late percentages. Oh, yes, and honor.
Many times when I would be the only driver, I would pull up to the store, and the manager would be standing there with a stack of pizza bags, waiting. I would pull up, and he would throw three or four runs in my car, and tell me only what the first one was–
So I would know what direction to turn out of the parking lot. The rest I would look at while I was driving. I didn’t go in and look at the map. And no, I didn’t have a map book in my car, either. I knew where everything was. Everything.
Over the course of 22 years of delivery experience at two dozen some-odd stores, I’ve had my share of "Shit, I don’t know where that is!" It’s worse when you’re already on the road, and you have to figure it out, or guess, or make a phone call. But that’s not the same as being "lost." I don’t get "lost" very often. Lost is a specific instance where you don’t know where YOU are. I know where I am–I just can’t find my destination. It really pisses me off when a customer says, "Didja get lost?" No, asshole, I didn’t "get lost." I knew where I was every fucking nanosecond. I just couldn’t find your unlit unnumbered unmarked hidden cave, you sloth.
But I have actually been "lost" in the technical sense. In 22 years, thousands–and I do mean thousands–of deliveries, I have been lost exactly three times. The first time was Halloween, 1986. I had been working for Domino’s for three weeks. Another store on the other side of the county–hell, I hadn’t even heard of it–needed drivers and they sent me. They send me on a triple, all going to the same subdivision. Their area was all spread out, construction going on and roads changing–I couldn’t even find the subdivision. A fire station had it’s doors open, giving candy out to trick-or-treaters. With a 30-minute guarantee, you learn to think fast. I pulled up, ran out, asked them if I could look at their map–never stopping as I headed straight for it–and a friendly fireman showed me where I was. I wasn’t as far off as I thought, luckily. I grabbed some candy from their dish and bolted.
The second time was only a few years later. I was loaned out to another store, Blackjack. This is one that I would end up managing a few years later. They sent me on some runs, and I got completely turned around; I should have made a left out of the store instead of a right, and so I ended up–I don’t know where I ended up, but it was one of those situations where the two roads are parallel until they intersect–and it didn’t make sense to me. I had to turn around and come back to the store, much to the chagrin of the already-stressed-out manager.
The third time was Friday–just a few days ago. It’s late and I’m the only driver, and we’re busy. I’m starting to know my way around, but there is a subdivision right near the store that sucks to high heaven. Big houses, and the streets are curved and winding. No perpendicular intersections, and no streets that go all the way through to stop short-cut takers. And pizza delivery, the bastards. I can’t explain what happened without making myself sound like a dumbass. Suffice it to say that I called the store, and Dina, the manager, gave me turn by turn directions to the street. I figured I was home-free. Nope. Not even fucking close. I still have to find the house. I’m looking for 246. I see 288, 286, and decreasing–okay, good–keep going, it’s on this side. I happen to see the numbers on the other side, odd numbers. Increasing in the direction I’m going. What the Fuck? I look again, and I see 260, then 250. It’s the end of the street?
Does the street continue somewhere, or is there a space warp somewhere? Fuck if I know. I go back to the top, look again. I end up calling the customer. And this is where they where: IN BETWEEN the 286 and the 260. I suppose, if you’re fucking rich, you don’t have to know how to count. I’m going to buy a street guide. Son of a bitch.