Tags: 1980s, customer service, domino's pizza
The Great Experiment at Domino’s Pizza was in full swing. I was to learn that it shaped everything, from how we did business to how we arranged our priorities, to how we handled problems–
To how we judged a person’s worthiness.
The infamous 30-minute guarantee.
When others practice warfare with paint guns and rubber bullets, we used live ammo. Joel trained me my first night. He made a time card for me and I clocked in. I gave it a passing glance and didn’t understand it–and that was going to set the stage for my evening.
“Okay, Guy, let’s get you set up with a cartop and a hotbox.” I followed him and he showed me the drill. In the backroom stacked randomly were both pieces of equipment. The cartop was a big heavy plastic box with the logo on the outside and a couple of lightbulbs on the inside. Suction cups on the bottom so it would stick to the roof of your car, and a cord to plug into your cigarette lighter. I was informed that whoever wore the cartops got an extra 15 cents per delivery for advertising for the company. Woo-hoo! This is in addition to the 48 cents we got for “mileage” or “reimbursement,” or whatever they called it. The terms seemed interchangeable.
Plus we got minimum wage–3.35 per hour–and we got tips. I was told that most drivers make up to seven or eight dollars per hour.
Then Joel got me the hotbox. This is a crucial piece of equipment, as I understand it. A big aluminum box, big enough to hold six pizzas, probably, with a perfectly safe asbestos blanket connected to it with a stiff wire. We needed the blanket because first I had to light a small can of Sterno and put it in the box. This all gets strapped into my front seat. I’m ready to go.
But first, I’m going to shadow Joel for most of the night. He drove a little Volkswagen Golf, and his hotbox was in the backseat so I could ride shotgun. “Ready, Guy?” I learned that was his thing–calling everyone “Guy.” Good thing–I thought it was going to be my nickname. I really didn’t want a nickname.
While we were setting up, business started picking up. Phones were ringing, people were coming in at the start of their shift, and Tom was right on it, directing people and events to make things go smoothly. “Here, Guy, here’s your bank. This is fifteen bucks, you use it to make change with.” It was a five, 8 ones, and two bucks in coins. It was always that much. Small plastic containers with the banks made up were tossed to drivers as the clocked in and got set up.
“Joel, you’re up!” Tom yelled out.
Joel went, and I followed. We went over to the heatrack, and Joel was moving fast and explaining as he went; I tried to keep up and pay attention. I caught bits and pieces of the information.
“Okay, we’re going here…and here. We take the yellow off the box–follow me–and we come around back here. I’m number seven, so I clip them here. You need to pick a number that isn’t taken–”
“Taken. Here, take twenty-three.”
“Okay, the streets are Green Acres and Saint Cyr. So we go to the map, here. Here’s the guide, and the grid matches up with the map coordinates. See? But I know where these are. Here. And down here. Got it? Okay.”
We went to the rack, and he put the pizzas–sorry, “pies”–let’s get into the lingo. He put the pies in a hotbag. “Make sure you check for all the items. Right here, in this corner, is going to be a number if there’s more than one. Right here–see this–always check for sodas. This one has two Cokes. Grab them. There. Okay, Guy, we’re set. Time is important here. The big clock up there is the official time. Always call out the times when you leave, and when you come back. Always.”
He looked at the clock, then at the labels on the boxes, and did some quick math. As he heads out the door he says, “Let’s roll. Twelve and fourteen, two Cokes!” He yelled the last part to the store as I followed him at a trot out the door.
As I get in the passenger side, he opens his back door, pulls the pies out of the bag and puts them in the hotbox, throws the hotbag on top of it, and hops in the front. Not wasting any time, he started the car, shifted and gunned it out the parking lot and up the street. He never stopped talking the whole time.
I learned a lot that first night. I was shown a lot that night. Christ, I hope I remember it.
Everything was a blur. When we came back from the first run, Joel yelled, “Seventeen, twenty!” as soon as he opened the door. One of the things that I did catch was that I was supposed to pay attention to how old the pie was when I delivered it and repeat that time when I came back.
But the rest? Something about checks–get some information on them. Yeah. Makes sense. He would show me the address, but I would have only time to look at the coordinates and as I would turn toward the map, he would say, “Let’s go, Guy!”
I technically lived in Florissant, and this was Bellefontaine Neighbors. My girlfriend lived here, and I stayed with her. I had a rudimentary knowledge of the area at best: main roads, the way to the highway, and the way to the store. Everything else was a mystery…
But as we drove around, I could sense some of the mystery unlocking for me. I was making connections, and the roads were beginning to make sense for me. I could *get* this. I could do this.
“I said, ‘I think you’re ready to go solo.’ Do you?”
“Yeah. I’m ready.”
I took six deliveries that first night, and made about ten bucks in tips. And that was just driving for a about an hour and a half. Of course they were all singles; I was the newest of the new. I was a real FNG. But on my own I was able to figure things out on my own terms. It was coming together for me.
And then it was time to go. I brought my shit in and “checked out.” Tom grabbed the keys and unlocked the drop box for me, and I got out my money. After every delivery, I’m supposed to drop my cash. It says right on my nametag “Driver does not leave store with more than $20.” So it must be true.
I straightened out my money standing up while Tom sat in the one chair in the office and filled out the sheet, called the daily. Tom wrote down my name, and added up my slips, then counted them. Forty-eight cents times six in one column, and six times fifteen cents in another. He wrote the totals down, and quickly his stubby fingers ran over the ten-key, then handed me my money. Fourteen bucks. Wow. I can see this working out for quite a while.
Tags: 1990s, customers, domino's pizza, porn, sex
It was a beautiful fall evening in the suburbs, and everything seemed normal and quiet and I surveyed my domain. I wasn’t sure how much longer this car would last, though–
But for now it was running well; I just had it back on the road after replacing the shifter. I buzzed around in the little Toyota with the sunroof open–of course–and enjoying the weather that was still warm enough to do so without looking like a crackpot. It was after 9 pm so the major rush was long over, but for the few drivers left we still had business, and business is good.
I dropped off the first order of my double without anything remarkable happening, and headed off to the other stop. Once I found the house, I park against the near-nonexistent curb and cut the wheel. It’s enough of a bump to keep the car from rolling away, since I don’t have a parking brake–this way I don’t have to turn the engine off.
It’s a standard house in the subdivision, but I remember it had cedar shingles. Close to the end of the dead end part of the street, so there wasn’t any traffic that didn’t have to be there. I knock on the door and a guy answers, and holds the door wide for me. “Pizza man! Alright! Come on in!”
Yeah, I know we aren’t supposed to. If I had a nickel for every time I didn’t follow the rules, my tip average would be higher. I step in.
The dude that answered the door disappeared to find money–I hope. I was standing in the living room, and there were three people on the couch. Two dudes, and a chick.
The dudes looked like dudes. A little older than me, but that’s not saying much. One had long hair and a 3/4 sleeve concert shirt, so I assume he was a time-traveler from the 70s. The other guy looked like a truck driver–hat, slight beard, flannel over a greasy t-shirt. The chick in question–let’s call her Bethany–Bethany was cute in an escaped-from-rehab kinda way. Plain face, no makeup. Revealing top that her boobs sprang out of because she needed to accent her best feature, and straight, flat, dirty blonde hair. They just sat there, watching TV, then they would one by one glance at me, then glance back at the TV. They did this a couple of times. I turned towards the TV.
They were watching porn.
Three guys and one chick, watching porn. Somebody is getting lucky tonight. And somebody is getting an STD.
The guy came out with the money, and hesitated, as he caught the eye of the long-haired dude, and some unspoken communication passed between them. The girl glanced my way, and then at the other guy. Long-hair nudged her, I think.
I hope I’m better at concealing my expressions now than I was then. My interpretation is that they were maybe hoping to barter a piece of ass for some pizza. Maybe they didn’t know how to go about this either–I mean, it always looks easy in the porn movies, because they have a script and everything.
But the uncomfortable moment passed, and the guy paid me money, giving me a three-dollar tip.
It’s probably for the best, anyway. I was married at the time, and as much as I crave to be the center of attention, performing in front of others in that way might be awkward. *Might be*? Shit. Plus, would it all be male on female? I like surprises, but I don’t want to be mounted from behind. I guess it’s a fine line.
Tags: customers, pizzarama
Geez, I got a list here, of stories I need to tell. Let’s start with this one, because it’s more or less the oldest…
About a month ago, on a Sunday night, I’m delivering. On the last of a three-stop, I go to this apartment. The apartment is K, on the third floor. People who live on the first floor rarely order for delivery, I’ve noticed.
Right after I knock on the door, a guy and girl in their early twenties come out–not for the pizza, but to smoke on the balcony. Okay. But they leave the door open, so I see the girl who is going to pay come from around the corner and walk toward me.
Out of my line of sight, I hear another female’s voice. “Is he hot?”
The girl turns with an exasperated gesture and says, “NO!”
Then she turns and walks towards me, but didn’t seem to make the connection that I did. Before she gets to me, I said, “No, I’m really not. Not at all.”
The couple on the balcony laugh quietly, and the girl turns beet red, and stammers some excuse about how it wasn’t what I thought, but she gave up. The unseen girl in the apartment had heard it all as well, and she yelled out, “You better tip him good!”
I said, “Now, I heard that.”
She’s still flummoxed as she fills out the credit card slip, and gives me a five dollar tip. Meh, what’s my pride worth, anyway? Three bucks and the change?
I guess I came out ahead then.
Tags: family, friends, funerals, life and death
In the middle of December, during one of Detroit’s hospital stays, my Aunt Gloria passed away.
I’m not sure how much I want to go into this. It’s more than just a backdrop to a story. Aunt Gloria is one of my dad’s sisters, and married to Uncle Joe, the coolest of uncles.
About fifteen years ago, Aunt Gloria had got sick, and she had a kidney transplant. Her brother Junior gave her a kidney. Junior is the youngest of the group. He passed away in 2005, due to a stroke or a heart attack. They think it might have been related to medication he was on, but I don’t know the whole story.
Aunt Gloria had been fine for quite a while, but sometime in 2004 she had a stroke, a big one. Uncle Joe had–just recently, I think–retired from his construction job. And now he was on to another difficult job: taking care of his invalid wife.
Aunt Gloria had been a vibrant, active, cheerful and alive woman until this, smart and sarcastic and warm and funny. And now? Now she was a shadow of what she had been.
One whole side of her body did not cooperate well, including her brain. She hallucinated and had bizarre thoughts and speech. Sometimes I swear she was just fine, and acting crazy to fuck with people. I know I would. Hell, I intend to.
Something like this completely changes your life–hers and his. Joe never complained, that I saw. He was strong and…maybe detached. Maybe that helped him deal with getting her up, getting her dressed, getting her to the bathroom, getting her cleaned and fed, and keeping her cigarettes and coffee on her right side, where she could see them.
Maybe you don’t want your friends to see you like this, if it happens to you. But if you have a friend who has known you for over forty years, I don’t think it matters. Maybe a visit from your closest and dearest and bestest friend in the whole fucking world might be all the difference between just existing and having a bit hope left in your life.
So when I found out–and it was just hints and allusions that I had to piece together–that her friend Diane essentially abandoned my aunt, I was kinda fucking mad. For Diane’s purposes, Gloria ceased to exist. Ain’t that some shit?
I got out to see Aunt Gloria when I could, and it wasn’t much. When we lived down the street from them, we saw them fairly often. My daughter would go up to see her and spend time with her both before and after the stroke. My daughter is sweetheart, with a heart of gold. She really cares about people. I’m sure she didn’t get it from me.
Diane had some kids, and one of them was roughly my age, named Bobby. Bobby was friends with my cousins that were about my age, before I moved here. So much so that even though I was family, since I was new in town, I was the outsider, not him. His mom and Gloria were tight–she was like an aunt, and Bobby was like a cousin.
Years go by, and of course this happens. And then Aunt Gloria died. I managed to get both Mitchell and Miranda there to pay there respects. It was a rare thing, my family seeing my son, akin to a Bigfoot sighting and drawing the same gawking looks.
I was walking around, seeing family, and reintroducing my kids to them. Whaddaya know, Diane was there. And her son, Bobby.
Despite the years, he looked the same. Almost as tall as me, with a skinny build. The years had added little to his frame. Same dirty blond hair with a bowl cut.
I had nothing against him, so I engaged him in conversation. Everything he said just bothered me. Some of it made me outright cringe. Some of it made me want to punch the mother-fucker in the face.
“Bobby. What’s up, man?” We shook hands.
“Not much. Living and working.”
“Cool. Married? Kids? What’s the story?” I kids were right behind me.
“Divorced. Happily divorced.”
He didn’t ask about me or mine. This was going no where, then a thought occurred to me. “Hey, I know someone, this girl I work with you might know from back in the day–” I told him her name. It’s this girl Kim–yet another Kim in my life–that I’ve become friends with, and at that time was giving a ride to work until she could get a car.
“Oh, *her*?” He waved his hand dismissively. “What a bitch. She’s a whore.” Again, my kids were right behind me.
“Dude, she’s a friend of mine.”
I don’t remember the exact words or order that he said them. Essentially, his ex-wife is my friend Kim’s sister…so he knows her more than I thought. However, being divorced from her family I’m sure hasn’t tarnished his opinion. Not only that, but his “best friend” is Kim’s ex-husband.
He had heard, too about her different problems–from the prism of her ex-husband, she is obviously all to blame. And he had heard that her fiance John had killed himself in August.
Bobby said, “If I was going to end up marrying her, I’d shoot myself in the face, too.”
Seriously? Can you believe a mother-fucker would say something this callous? What if I knew him? What if, through her, I was acquainted with him? We were planning to get together…until that happened.
I was so mad, but I had to maintain a semblance of decorum. This is my aunt’s goddamn funeral, and here was this fucker, who–honestly, I was hardly more than a passing acquaintance with–was saying the worst kind of horrible shit about someone who is a friend of mine. What the fuck is his problem?
“Dude–look, she’s a friend of mine. I like her.”
He didn’t back off. “Well, you shouldn’t be. Everything she says is a fucking lie. She’s a whore.”
I honestly don’t know how I got out of that conversation. I think I just walked away.
Let’s dissect this a little, shall we? First of all, in a divorce situation, there are always two sides. I don’t know either one, actually. But what do YOU say to someone who happens to bring up in conversation someone that you don’t like?
Unless the person bringing it up is a close friend, I’m going to just casually dust over it with a “Yeah, I don’t really know them,” and change the subject. What I’m not going to do, because I HAVE FUCKING MANNERS, is trash talk someone right to the face of a friend of theirs. In addition to having manners, I’m also not stupid. What if the other person decides to take a swing at me because of it?
Because I almost did. If we weren’t at a funeral, for fuck’s sake, I would have.
Seriously, what does he expect? I’m friends with her and I work with her–hell, I give her a ride to work–and this is the first time I’ve seen his ridiculous ass in over 15 years. On his word I should shun all contact with her? And then what? Become his BFF?
Not bloody likely.
And my friend Kim does have a checkered past–she’s been around. She’s talked about it to me, and perhaps that’s something she shouldn’t do is be so open about her past with EVERYONE–but she is honest about it. And she is trying to change. She had changed, for her fiance, until his death put her life into the shitter. I felt that she needed a friend, and I even told her that: “You could use a friend that isn’t trying to get into your pants.”
I was just a friend to her–am just a friend–someone she can vent to, cry on once in a while, and joke and share emails. And I try to guide her in the right direction, help her make better decisions. I’ve seen her work through some problems and slowly try to get her life in order. Just think of me as a freelance social worker.
Later at the funeral, after my kids and I had made the rounds and ended up in the basement where the food was, we began the process of saying our goodbyes and heading out. Bobby was still there, standing with some other people that I said goodbye to.
I tried to avoid him, but ended up halfheartedly shaking hands with him as he gave me a parting shot. Something about, “Next time bring some pizza for the rest of us; you seem to have had enough.”
Oh, so a jab at me about my career as well as a fat joke. You’re a fucking prize, asshole.
And I can’t help but wonder–what kind of mother raises an asshole like that? Oh, the same kind of mother that abandons her life-long best friend in her time of need. That’s what kind of mother raises an asshole like that.