Nice, Round Numbers

April 4, 2011 at 7:59 PM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | Leave a comment
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After last night, I needed to do the math to see if what I felt intuitively (meaning I didn’t pay attention) was real.  It feels like I’m not making any money at the Hut.  Worse than that, it seems like it is costing me money to go to work.  Unless I get a job at a strip club, I’m not really interested in paying for the privilege.
But how much is it costing, and how much am I making, really?  Get the calculator out, kids.

Let’s use nice round numbers to make this easy:
Let’s call it 20 miles to Pizza Hut, one way.  So that is a 40 mile round trip.
Let’s say the van gets 16 miles per gallon.
Let’s call gas 3.50 per gallon.  As I sit here, it’s about 3.549 per gallon.
I’ve gone back and forth on this other number, trying to determine how far I drive per delivery, on average.  Some are longer than others, and if you get a double you cut the distance in half.  But as an educated guess, I’m going to say the average round trip for a delivery is 6 miles.
Pizza Hut gives drivers 1.10 per run.  Yeah, they bumped it up when gas went up.  When gas was around 3.50, they gave us…a dollar.  There’s a 2.50 delivery charge, and the driver gets a dollar of it.  From my understanding of the corporate mentality, I’m surprised that they didn’t raise the delivery charge to 3 bucks.  And then give us 1.10.
Another “experiment” they tried is fucking with our hourly pay.  We should be getting tips, so logically, they shouldn’t have to pay us as much when we are driving.  So they cut our pay when we’re delivering from 7.25 to 5.25.  It’s a complicated scale, so when we come back from a run and cash in, we are at the higher 7.25 rate.  That’s minimum, by the way.  Let’s say, if we’re lucky, we spend our time 2/3 to 1/3 driving to in-store.
In that time, we’re going to take 8 deliveries.
Call the average tip 3 bucks.
SO:
Salary is going to be 7.25*1 for our time in the store, plus 5.25*2 for our time driving, for a three-hour shift.  That’s 17.75.
Then, with tips, we’re going to make 24 bucks.  Add our 1.10 per run.  Fifty dollars and 55 cents.  Rock on!
50.55.  That is 16.85 an hour.  That’s purty good.  Two shifts like that is the 100 bucks extra I need every week.  Sometimes I make more.  Sometimes I make WAY less.  Oh, and I forgot about taxes and so forth.
Lately they schedule more drivers than we need, so we end up tripping over ourselves and waiting for deliveries.  In a perfect world, in that same three hours I would take 12 to 16 deliveries and never be in the store for more than a minute at a time.  More runs equals more tips, but also more miles and more gas used.  Pizza Hut operates under the erroneous suggestion that customers want their pizza incredibly fast.  This is, of course, a completely inaccurate and miscalculated parameter, but they have to have something measurable for which they can dock managers’ bonuses.  The truth is that they don’t necessarily want it fast, they just want an accurate estimate of the time it will take.  This is not an imaginary numeric.  This is based on my 25+ years in food deliver, so I know what the hell I’m talking about.
But wait.  How much does it cost to go to work—and then drive once I get there?
Okay, first, the round trip is 40 miles.  Then for the deliveries, six times 8 runs is 48 miles.  Forty and forty-eight is eighty-eight miles.  Eighty-eight divided by sixteen per gallon is 5.5 gallons.  Five-fifty times three-fifty is 19.25 for gas.
That seems about right because I throw a twenty dollar bill in the tank every time I drive, just enough to keep it off empty.
Now that 50 bucks per shift doesn’t seem so impressive.  Minus gas, and that leaves me with a crumpled up 30 dollar bill.  Divided by 3, and that’s 10 bucks an hour.
More importantly, it’s 30 bucks for four hours out of my life, including travel time.  And after taxes, it’s going to be less.  They don’t take out much, but it isn’t much to begin with.  I can make more money by sitting still and not spending any money.  I can break even by taking a nap instead of going in to work.

This realization stings a bit, because it’s like I’m stupid all over again, and had to figure this out.  But—
I’m not going to work there anymore.  Not another shift.  I can’t.  I can’t afford to work there.

Out With The Old

March 30, 2011 at 10:15 PM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | Leave a comment
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I haven’t been writing as much about Pizzarama, where I’ve been working lately.  Maybe I’m jaded?
Twenty-five years, dozens of stores, hundreds of employees, and thousands upon thousands of deliveries is bound to do that to a person.  I remember a time when I was innocent, fresh, and naive…
I don’t think I can relate to that guy anymore.

And I’ll go ahead and say it, because I don’t care anymore:  The place I work at is Pizza Hut.  When I worked at Domino’s, I named it.  When I worked at Scooter’s, I named it.  When I worked at Domino’s again, I named it–
Which caused some problems because I was doing things that weren’t exactly Cricket.  Thusly burned, I called Jimmy John’s “The Three Jakes.”  But Imo’s was Imo’s, and Steak n Shake was Steak n Shake–and they well still be.  I thought I might want an alias to protect me on this internet thing.  Maybe I shouldn’t be so cavalier, but I’m not doing anything wrong.
How about, “I’m not doing anything illegal, and most of what I do that is morally questionable is not a threat to the job”?  Better?
In the meantime, I subconsciously didn’t want to get too attached to anyone here, because Things Always Change.  However, I didn’t have much of a choice–some of them drew me in.
Of course, there’s The Dude, an ever-present fixture in my life and the reason I took the job at this particular location.  Meet our management team:
Tom is a young guy, quiet and stoic.  He seems to be laid back–like a hippie dressed as a businessman.  That’s the vibe I get.
Ryan is the other assistant.  Slightly older than Tom, but still so young.  And yet he has thinning hair.  He cares more about the job than Tom does.  Frequently they are both shocked at the ridiculous things that come out of my mouth.  Then again, that describes most people, I guess.
Rob is the manager.  Whoops.  Rob was the manager.  Rob got fired a couple of weeks ago, a victim of arbitrary grading or his own ineffectiveness, your choice.
I liked Rob–hell, I like all of them–but they way they manage stirs a deep primal desire in me.  A heat, a wrath, a bent to knock everyone over and take charge and show them how it’s supposed to be done.
But then my shift ends and I get over it.
So now we have a new manager, an older woman–older than me, even–named Julie.  I’ve met her exactly once, when I was coming in early (to make a good impression) and she was leaving early (even though it was a Saturday night and snowing in late March.
“Hi.  Who are you?” she says, looking at my chest where my nametag should be.
I put out my hand.  “Hi.  I’m Bryan.  Who are you?” I asked, already knowing the answer.  I looked at her chest, too, to let her know I knew what she was doing.  Not a sexual thing.  Not yet, anyway–but it is a weapon in my arsenal, if need be.
“Do you have a nametag?”  Before I could answer, she said, “And tuck your shirt in.”
I’ve been working there since June of last year, and I’ve never tucked my shirt in.  The cynical among you or those who have met me might think it’s because my belly prohibits it.  But actually, I have a long torso, and the shirts are always too short.  Really.  I could show you–
Never mind.
While I tucked in my shirt, she made me a new nametag with rainbow colored letters.  I guess we are inclusive now.  Then she left.  I untucked my shirt.
It’s what the store needs, and what these people need.  Someone to lead.  Rob–again, a nice guy–would rarely tell or ask someone to do something.  Jesus, you have to take charge.  Don’t be afraid to tell me to do something.
Don’t be afraid to tell the young punks working here to do something, either.  Because if you don’t, they won’t do a damn thing.  Us older folks–the drivers–we know our jobs and we get on it and we are proactive.  The kids need to be directed constantly, at least until they get the idea.
So hopefully Jules will be a good manager for the store and the crew.  It’s what they need.  Because these guys–

Temelko is our token Old Belgian guy.  He works the most hours of any driver.  He speaks the broken English very brokenly.  I’m starting to be able to make out some words.  We had a five minute conversation about a month ago of which I did not understand a single thing he said.  I sure hope I didn’t agree to something I’ll regret later.
John is a mid-twenties guy with a ponytail.  He’s quiet and good-looking.  I mean, good-looking enough to be gay.  He’s also an artist; we’ve had a few conversations about his interests, and that’s when he wouldn’t shut up.  He does computer animation, something I wish I had the patience for.
Nick is this guy–man, I don’t like him.  I mean, he’s okay.  He tries to be a smart-ass, but he’s not clever enough.  He runs shifts on occasion so he’s technically a member of management, which he uses as an excuse to fuck with people.  You know the kind of guy that’s only average in intelligence, but thinks he’s much smarter?  That’s him.
Don is the old guy.  He’s a carpenter by trade, and in this economy, delivering pizza.  He helped me tear the wall out in my kitchen and put a back door in.  Recently, he and his wife split up and he moved back in with his dad.  Yeah, he’s old.  And his dad is quite a bit older, I imagine.
When I say old, I mean he’s in his mid-fifties.  What the hell does that make me?
Don, The Dude and I are the Three Amigos, complete with pelvic thrust.  Because we are so…hip.
There are some other drivers in and out, part timers that I never quite caught the name of.  We also have Sean–Blond Sean from Scooter’s and Angelina’s fame.  He is also Rob’s ex-brother-in-law, but they are still friends.  (That’s why Rob hired him.)  Sean is an odd duck.  I thought he was a geeky, nerdy guy.  And I think he is.  He’s a nerdy guy trying desperately to hide it and be cool.  Or maybe he just turned over a new leave after he got divorced, which I can relate to.
Amber is our star pizza maker, and the hardest working person in the store.  She is about 20, a tall, gangly, clumsy looking girl.  She is just so quiet–until you engage her.  Then she won’t shut up.  I know way too much about her dysfunctional family.  She’s like the Marilyn in The Munsters, if the Munsters were all white-trash co-dependent addicts with poor decision-making skills.
Jarvis is this teenage slick dude.  He is cool, cocky, and confident.  I’m sure he gets laid way more than a teenage boy should.  He comes from money, and it shows–not just in the car he drives.  He has a sense of entitlement, and it shows in the way that he things the minimum effort he puts forth is a tremendous inconvenience to him and we should all be more appreciative.
[We’re busy.  People hustling everywhere, doing things.  The phone is ringing and ringing.  Again, we’re all busy.  He announces sarcastically to everyone, “Don’t worry about the phone.  I’ll get the phone.  I got it.”  Whatever he had been doing before was not time-critical to the rush.  Maybe he was folding a box or something.  “I’ll get the phone.”  I said, “Thanks for letting us know you’re finally going to do your job.”  That jibe cut him a little deep; he didn;t talk to me for about a week after that.]
And we have this other inside boy named Shane.  I–
Ugh.  I swear, some teen boys should be raised in a pasture with a high fence.  Electrified.  He’s a punk, through and through.  Sense of entitlement?  Check.  Doesn’t understand dick about anything?  Check?  Overly preoccupied with trying to look cool?  Check?  Unable to learn anything because he already knows it?  Double-check.
He has this car–I’m sure it’s a parent’s or something like that.  I hope, anyway.  Any adult who would give this retard a car should be locked up.  He’s always bragging about his car and how fast it is and how he can outrace anyone.  I don’t want to be that young and stupid again, if I ever was.
I’m leaving on a run about the time he got off work one night.  He hops in his car, revs it up, and keeps revving it up.  If it’s a stick, he’s using up the clutch.  If it’s an automatic, he’s even stupider.  I pull out, and I head down the line.  He pulls out real fast in front of me, causing me to brake.  Then he revs it some more and squeals the tires as he takes off.
I get to the light, and then he appears again.  Where did he come from?  Where did he go?  Who gives a shit?  He’s sitting at the light revving the engine.  He’s in the left turn lane, and I’m in the lane to go straight.  His light goes green, and he revs it and takes off, squealing the tires some more.
I know this is the old man in me, but he’s a fucking dumb ass.  Tires costs money.  A clutch costs money.  Gas costs money.  If he was paying for it, he wouldn’t be doing that to “his” car.
Honestly, I don’t even want to get to know him, because I don’t want to feel bad when he rolls his car and wraps it around a pole and dies.  He’ll do it all with a dumb expression on his face, the expression people have when they don’t understand the correlation between their actions and the consequences thereof.
We have Kelli, this girl.  This 20 year-old (“I’ll be 21 in two months!”) chick who started as a server during the day and then started to drive.  She’s short, she’s fat, and she loud and in everybody’s business.  She is so concerned that people are talking about her that she inserts herself into every conversation, and eavesdrops on everyone.  Christ, she bugs me.  Part of it, I can tell, is that if she gets a little attention she craves more.  She desperately wants to get laid.  I told Don that he’s going to end up fucking her.
“Christ!  Say it ain’t so!  Do I have to?”
Then, of course, we have my sweetheart, Courtney.  Courtney just had a birthday.  She just turned…17.  Wow.  She says I remind her of her dad.  So I have a year to turn that daddy complex into something viable.
Juuuuust kidding.  She’s a sweet girl, and one of my favorites there.  We talk, I gave her a ride home once (perfectly innocent!), and we have fun at work.

So that’s the people I work with.  And the people make all the difference.  Pizza is pizza.  Hell, pizza is as pizza does.  Pizza is the same, or different, or both, anywhere you go.  But the people are what make it interesting, and determine whether or not you want to go to work each day.
Although something else may be a determining factor as well:  Gas prices.  I swear to God, lately I feel like I’m losing money going to work.  I’m going to need to find another part time job, just because I can’t afford to work at this one.
Maybe the next job will be something not driving.

Hot Or Not?

January 10, 2011 at 10:19 PM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | Leave a comment
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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.

Adventures In Babysitting

December 13, 2010 at 10:31 PM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | Leave a comment
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I wrote this about two weeks ago.  It’s not as rambling as it seems–in other words, there’s a point to it.  I swear to God there is.

This was my night Sunday at Pizzarama.
When the manager is working, the place is a barely contained disaster.  When he’s not working–like Sunday night–it’s a clown car with no wheels.
I was scheduled for six instead of five as usual, so when I got there I was thrown right into the middle of the rush.  Nick is a driver/shift runner, or a shift runner that drives, or a wanna-be assistant manager–I’m not sure which.  He sets me up with a triple.
One of the runs is missing.
It’s not on the rack, and the slip is not on the cut table or the makeline.  Did someone take it already?  It seems that their system of creating busy work for the manager didn’t stop this one from slipping through the cracks.
You see, the way Pizzarama operates–and I don’t know if it’s a conscious desire to do things in the most inefficient way possible, or merely a stubborn refusal to adapt to new ways of doing things when those new ways are discovered and developed by competitors–but some of the things they do there are just downright stupid.
Say what you will about Domino’s Pizza, but many of their processes are damn efficient.
They even have a name for it that I’m wondering if Pizzarama even understands:  operations.  Operational excellence.  Operational efficiency.  Domino’s is one of the best at it, and I improved some of the processes when I managed there.  It’s a philosophy–
–that Pizzarama doesn’t buy into.
But what Domino’s has done–what they are the industry leaders in as far as pizza goes–is speed and efficiency in the area of operations.  Hell, I’m not even sure Pizzarama uses the word “operations” to describe the day-to-day work and processes that get the food to the customer, from prep to makeline to oven tending to delivery.  If they have a word for it at all it might as well be “sheep-herding” for all the good it does them in their thumb-fingered effort to get the pizza out the goddamn door.
Now Domino’s isn’t perfect, of course, and your mileage may vary, but here are some of the key differences between Domino’s Pizza (especially the ones I ran) and Pizzarama):
Pizza makers at Domino’s are trained for speed, first and foremost.  Of course they have to be accurate, but that comes with time.  At Pizzarama (and Papa John’s was like this as well) they use measuring cups on all the toppings on every pizza.  There is a complicated chart and a dozen color-coded cups for use with the toppings and they are used consistently, even during the rush.
Oh, the rush.  That’s the big difference.  At Pizzarama, it’s the rush.  At Domino’s, it is THE RUSH.  I’ll get to that.
At Domino’s, we were trained for speed.  I’ve talked about this before.  How fast can you make a large pie?  How fast can you slap out the dough?  How fast are the pies rolling out of the oven?
We didn’t weigh every pizza, not by a long shot.  And we sure as shit didn’t use a cup on every pizza.  Grab the cup, fill it with the topping up to the appropriate line, maybe shake it to level it off.  Then look at it.  Okay, good.  Now take it and dump the topping into your other hand and unevenly spread it around.  Drop the cup in the bin so you can use both hands to move the toppings around, because they are lumped up in one spot when you pour them from the measuring cup.  No, it does take as long as I am describing it.
At Domino’s, we would weigh toppings on occasion, when we were slow, and match them up with the pictures on the wall.  If you weighed a few and had a good idea of what it was supposed to look like, you would then be able to “eye-ball” them, estimate them, and then once in a while (as in every few weeks or months) weigh them to recalibrate your internal scale, as well as feedback from your manager–that would be me.
And proportion and distribution were important as well.  “Itemization” is a Domino’s word, which means the toppings are well-distributed across the body of the pie, as well as being the correct amount.  And you always made sure you had toppings out to the edge of the sauce-cheese border of the crust.
Because of the emphasis on speed, sometimes things got messy.  When you made pizzas on the makeline, you scooted them along the grates, which covered the catch trays.  With catch trays, accuracy didn’t matter–although precision still did.  Whatever didn’t land on the pizza fell through the grates and went in the catch trays.  Cheese especially–
And even our cheese was designed for speed and efficiency.  Our cheese was diced–individual pieces were cubes.  Perfect cubes.  Places like Imo’s used a shred.  It was fine, small pieces, but still–a shred is inefficient.  It would clump, and you would get more in some areas and less in others.  At Pizzarama, they used a dice, but the pieces were elongated.  They were rectangular-shaped boxes.  That leads to inefficiency and over-lap.
At Domino’s, you would reach into the cheese bin, grab two handfuls of cheese, raise your hands up about a cubit above the pie (what’s a cubit?) and sprinkle the cheese.  Maybe “sprinkle” is too delicate of a word.  Starting with your palms up, you shake your hands with fingers open, causing the cheese to rain down on the pizza, casually turning your hands over in the process.  You get a fairly even distribution of cheese, and what doesn’t go on the pie goes in the pit–the catch tray.  You generally get a pretty even spread.  To make it more even and to shake off any excess, pick it up and give it a quick spin-and-drop.  Excess flies off, into the catch tray.
Too much detail?  It’s an artistic technique, similar to making pottery.  Except the art we are making here you can eat.
The cheese catch tray is dumped back up into the cheese bin fairly often; it doesn’t sit.  All of this is perfectly acceptable and food safe, and passes health department code.  You slide the pie down to put the toppings on, so it’s over another catch tray.  After the rush, some lucky soul gets to “pick the pit”–piece by piece pull the shit out of it and toss it back in the right bin.  Mostly just the meats and large pieces of veggie, unless you work for an anal-retentive manager that wants it all picked clean.  But it is done this way so you can make pies fast, and then clean it up later.
At Pizzarama, the makeline is a flat table.  No grates, no pits.  Of course, there is no flour or dough table, either.  The dough is prepped into the pan already, from frozen.  It thaws, and is just adjusted to fit the edge and is used.  So you take a pan with a dumb ol piece of dough in it, stretch it a little and place it out to the edge, and you’re ready to make a pizza.  Sauce it?
First, you grab the right-sized plastic ring (think Frisbee golf) and place it over the pie.  This is your “template.”  Obviously, idiots, morons, and piemakers can’t sauce a pizza and stay inside an imaginary line without a plastic guide–Yet I’ve been doing it for years, and have personally trained several dozen people to do the same.
Leave that ring on; you’re making the rest of the pizza with it in place.  I know there is some system with the cups, but so far I haven’t bothered to learn it.  The piemaker takes a cup of cheese and tries to run it through their fingers in a futile effort to spread it evenly.  Not only is it not even, but it is definitely not covering the edge where the sauce is.  That is a big no-no at Domino’s:  cover the red edge.
The toppings are going to be like that as well, and it is completely antithetical to all my previous training.  Distribute the toppings evenly, for God’s sake.  And get them out to the edge, or the edge of the sauce.  Drop and scatter.  spread it out.  Doesn’t matter if some falls off the edge.  Get it made, and get it made *fast*.
Pizzarama has this new pizza now, some gimmicky thing.  Amber, our main pizza maker, made one for me a few weeks ago, and I saw what was involved.  Christ, it takes like five minutes or more to make this ridiculous thing.  They really don’t care about time.  And I can tell, too, in their whole attitude about service.  At Domino’s Pizza, when we got busy, we worked harder and faster, faster.
At Pizzarama, they simply tell people it will take longer.  The other night I happened to look at the ticket while I’m waiting for the customer to open the door.  The promise time was 7:09, and I was there before 7.  Cool, I’m early.  Above that was the order time:  5:39.  I can’t believe the customer said, “Sure, no problem.  I’ll wait an hour and half for a pizza.  I have brain damage.”
At Domino’s I used to say that as a manager I was just a glorified pizza maker.  Well, is there any other option?  Yes.  You can do things the Pizzarama way, which is to create inefficiency that makes busy work for manager.
At Domino’s, when a driver comes back from a run, the first thing he does is make a drop:  whatever excess cash you have goes into an individual drop box for safe keeping.  Make sure you hang onto enough to make change.  Then you go to the rack and see what’s up.  If it’s obvious, you assign them on the computer and go.  If you have a question, you ask it.  The manager is on the line making pizzas, but knows what is going on and can answer a question.
So you take your run, with minimal-to-no manager interaction unless necessary; it doesn’t disrupt the flow.
At Pizzarama, when you come back from a run, the first thing you do is wait for a manager.  They may be cashing out a carryout customer or a driver, or they may be on the phone.  Hopefully you are no more than fifth or sixth on their list of things to do at the moment.  While you’re waiting, you can run any checks through the check verifier.
So the manager is ready for you.  After every delivery–every time you come back to the store–you cash in from that run.  Instead of waiting until the end of the shift, you do it every time you come back.  He checks you in, you deal with the exchange of money and so forth, and then he personally checks you out on your next runs.
There is a bit of logic to this, I admit–but the control is unnecessary and too much.  When I was a manager, I would control what the drivers took, especially when we were busy.  And the experienced ones could make their case if they didn’t like my routing, and I could change it up.  But I didn’t have to physically take them by the hand and punch it up on the touch screen for them.
And cashing out after every delivery is a ridiculous waste of time.
And time is what it’s all about, especially in the pizza business.  A good 50 to 60% of any given day’s business is going to come in a 2-hour window–5 to 7 pm.  That’s dinner time.  That’s THE RUSH.  And often, 50 to 60% of a store’s business for the entire week is going to come between 5 and and 7 on Friday and Saturday night.  That is THE RUSH.
Your business can pretty much break down into three parts:  prepping for the rush, handling the rush, and cleaning up after the rush.  Those are the basics of the restaurant business.
The basic premise of prep is this:  What can we do to help speed things along?  This lays the framework for everything we do.  One of the basics is folding boxes, of course.  Drivers can do it in between deliveries, phone people can do it between taking orders.  During a slow day shift, the driver can get a lot of boxes folded.  In a Domino’s you’ll see a corner filled with several stacks from floor to ceiling with boxes.  This makes it much easier, and it’s a fairly logical conclusion–fold boxes in advance, so they are ready when the pies come out of the oven.
Unless you’re at a fucking Pizzarama.

It’s a Sunday night, and it’s a busy Sunday.  Late November is football season.  The Rams won, and with a 5-6 record they stand as much chance of making the playoffs as anyone right now.
I came in at six, the height of the rush.  Nick gave me a triple, but the first one is gone.  They don’t know where, it’s just gone.  He said, “Don’t worry; we’ll find another one and still make it a triple.”
Fine.  He sets me up, but the the third one isn’t ready yet.  Okay–
Taking it all in, I see that the oven needs tending…
Almost 30 minutes later, I take my runs.
I was stuck there; my sense of duty and realization that things would come to a grinding halt if I left kept me chained to the cut table.  Amber and Ryan were on the makeline.  It must have been busy for a manager to be there.  Tom was the other manager, and he and Jorvice played tag with the phones, the carryouts, and the wings, and Tom was cashing drivers in and out.
Fuck.
I couldn’t go anywhere.  I kept pulling pizzas, throwing them on the paddle, cutting them, and then–oh, yeah–
FOLDING A GODDAMN BOX AS I WENT FOR THE FUCKING PIZZAS!
How can you not have boxes folded for a dinner rush?  Just–how does that shit happen?
Part of it is the poor design and layout of the store.  There is simply no room to put a stack of folded boxes.  It’s not normally my problem, but right now it is.  However, if I was the manager–
I’d find a goddamn place for folded boxes.
I tried to get Jorvice’s attention a couple of times, because he would have had time to help, but he was busy fucking around in between jobs.  I like the kid, but–
Hell, I like most of them but they’re just kids.  Including the manager.  I mean, he’s in his mid to late 20s…
And I know I was a child then as well.
I know he means well and he tries.  I wonder if I was like him when I was a young manager.  Part of me wants to be a manager again, to show them how it should be done.  Luckily, the larger part of me doesn’t want the hassle at all.  Of course, I know if something happens to my day job, I’m very likely to end up there.  Again.
The other two assistants, Ryan and Tom, are really young.  Ryan is in his 20s, and Tom is 19, I think.  Ryan has a sense of responsibility, I think.  To Tom, this is just a job, and a shitty one at that.  I won’t disagree with him.
It pisses me off though, that as jaded and bitter as I am, they are forcing me to care more about the job than I want to simply because they don’t.  Dammit!
The Dude was working that night also.  He came back from a run in his usual laid back style.  He came over to say hi, and I handed him a stack of boxes.  “Can you take these carryouts to the warmer?”
He protested.  “Well, man–Dude–my–I have a run up.”
“Dude, I have three runs up.  And I can’t get off the oven.  Suck it up.”
Finally, my third run of three is up.  Actually, it had been up, I had just missed seeing it.  Finally, though, Tom checked on it, and then took over the ovens for me.

I took that triple and did okay on it, but I was livid from the time I wasted on the ovens.  I felt like I had a clock nipping at my heels, and I was in a hurry after that.  I was in so much of a hurry that on my next run–a double–I forgot a pizza on one order.
Well, fuck me.  I was at the customer’s door and I had already knocked when I figured it out.  I looked at the ticket and the price was kind of high for one pizza.  I could tell by the weight that there was just one in the bag.  Instead of listing each pie individuall, there was a “2” next to it because they were the same.  Shit-crap. I need to suck it up.  The guy answered the door.
“How ya doin?  Listen, I’m sorry about this.  I just realized I had only one pizza here.  You ordered two.”
He seemed confused.  “One pizza?
“Yeah.  I don’t have it.  Sorry about that.  Let me give you this one, and I’ll be right back with the other one.  You aren’t too far away, so it won’t take long at all–”
He finally catches up, as I give him the pie.  “Okay.  I’ll pay you when you come back.”
On the way back to the store, I call the store and explain what happened.  I did that to stall any confusion and keep the pie I need from getting eaten or given to another customer, but I wasn’t hopeful.  However, when I got back the pizza I needed–
–was coming out of the oven.  That’s a bit odd.  There are a variety of reasons that could have happened, but I don’t stop to ponder the beauty and synchronicity of it all.  I cut the pie and go.
Back at the guy’s door, I knock and he answers.  Again I apologize.  “Sorry about that, man.  But this pizza is hot and fresh; it just came out of the oven for whatever reason–”
He gives me a “Hm-hmmf,” in an unconvinced tone.
“No, really,” I said, and I open the box to show it to him.  I never do that.  Never.
Maybe not physically, but metaphorically, his hands were on his hips.  He said, “That’s not what I ordered.”
Uh…  “Are you sure?” I asked.  “I just–”
“–And you forget my red sauce,” he said, as he backed into the house.  I was still holding the pizza; he didn’t take it.  He said, “You know what?  Don’t worry about it.”  He closed the door.
It was about then that I realized what was going on.  Son of a bitchin fuck.  Shit.  I walked back to the van, cursing him.
Back at the store, I had to wait for TOm to cash me in.  I didn’t say anything, however, until he got to the screen and started to punch it in.
“Wait a minute.”  His fingers stopped.  “That guy–the one that I forgot the pizza to–he didn’t pay.”
“What?”
“He didn’t take the second pizza, either.  But he kept the first pizza and he didn’t pay.  He just refused the second one and closed the door on me.”
Tom just looked at me.  “Okay…”
“And I stil have the other pizza, and I’m keeping it.”
I’m keeping it out of spite.
We asked Jorvice if he remembered taking the order, because his name was on it.  Yes, he did order two of the same pizzas, which is not what he claimed.  And no, he didn’t order any red sauce, either.  So he’s a fucking liar, and a thief.
I guess because he had time to think about it, which is never a good thing to do to customers.  Him and his buddy sat there, watching the game, and big ol’ fluerescent bulb slowly lights up over his head.  “Hey, you know what?”
“What?”
“We done ate one pizza.  Are you full?”
“I reckon so.”
“So am I.  I don’t think we need that other pizza.  I know how we can get this one we just ate for free–!”
Bastards.  You shouldn’t piss of the pizza guy, because he knows where you live…

How upset should I have been about all of that?  What is the right level of irritation?  Not only did he not pay, but he didn’t even tip me.  The thing is, I have a new, higher dose of my ADD medication.  One of the side effects is irritibility.  But is irritability really a side effect?  I think that before, I was just happily oblivious to everything.  Now I’m just more aware of how things are.  Irritation is a natural reaction to the world around me.  What part of how I feel is drug reaction and what part is a natural reaction to the fucked up world around me?
Little things have been bothering me at Pizzarama over the last few weeks as well.  Mostly little things, like a lack of leadership and an overall sense of impending disaster that is the signature for most shifts.  Most people just fuck around and do what they want, and eventually get around to doing their job at the bare minimum level.  That’s why I couldn’t get any help from anyone when I was stuck on the ovens:  they were too busy doing as little as possible to avoid working hard.
Except Amber, the piemaker.  She is an unassuming, cute but slightly spread in the ass young girl about 19 years old.  Mostly she is quiet, but if you ask her a question or talk to her about something, she starts to gush and open up.  She’s a nice, sweet girl.
Before I left the other night, I went over to talk to her quietly.  I didn’t want anyone else working to hear it, because it certainly wasn’t meant for them.  I came up to her and said, “I want to tell you something.”
She looked at me, then turned back to her work, cleaning the makeline.  But I had her attention.  I said, “I’ve been in the restaurant business for 25 years.  I’ve been a manager for a good 16 or more or those.”  I put my hand on her shoulder.  “You are the hardest working person here.”
She smiled.  “Thanks, I appreciate that.”
I said, “I don’t know what they would do here without you.  You keep everything rolling when everyone else is dicking around.  Without you, I wouldn’t have deliveries to take.  And I appreciate that.”
And I meant it.

Three Blind Mice

October 26, 2010 at 9:02 PM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | Leave a comment
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I’d hate to think it was just me, and luckily, it’s not.
A week or so ago, Don came up to me.  “Can you do me a favor?  Can you tell me where this is?”
He needed my help finding something on the map?  But he’s been here longer than me.  Obviously, he recognized the skills that I–
Looking at the map, he continued, “I left my damn glasses at home, and I can’t see if that’s the street I need.”
Oh.  Okay, then.  I get closer to the map, peer in, then drop my glasses because these damn no-line bifocals are only good for telling me that I can’t see something.  Close in, the map is a rendered in beautiful detail.  From a distance of three feet, it might as well be a plate of spaghetti.
I confirmed for him that it was indeed the street he wanted.
It’s a Monday night, so it’s a little slow and it’s a bit quiet, the way us older folk like it.  Not as many people here, and the ones that are working are more subdued, more low-key.  Courtney, for one–Courtney is not here.  She’s a loud, brash, energetic, peppy, perky 17-year old.  We don’t need that.  Not on a Monday.
I grab my run and amble to the van.  The van is easier to get in and out of than the car was–no bending down, no climbing out.  I just grunt and slide right over.  Nice.  In the dark, clear evening, against the backdrop of glare from porch lights, streetlights, and passing cars, I can’t make out a street sign to save my life, much less a number on the house.  Well, I know I’m close.  That sign–I can’t read it, but it doesn’t look long enough to be “Reddington.”  Keep going.
I should have used my old trick that I use to make sure I can find a street that is directly off of a busy drag–counting.  If I expect traffic to be heavy and I don’t want to slow down every ten feet and try to read a sign, I just count on the map:  “Elm is one, two, three, four streets past this light at Hurst.  Four.  If I get to William I went too far.”  But this was the middle of a subdivision; normally it’s not a problem.
The next street up could be the street I need.  The stop sign is obscured by a tree–on purpose, I’m sure–and when I pull around to see the side of it I need, I find it glowing with the light of the streetlight making a perfect back light.
So of course I can’t read it.  As I sit awkwardly in the middle of an intersection in this subdivision, a car cruises past me.  They slow down to see me squinting and looking up at a tree, from their perspective.  I can’t read the sign, but I think I see an “R.”  And the sign is long enough that it’s either Reddington or Remington.  Either way, I’m close.
I roll down the street and catch sight of a house number.  Or part of one.  I see a “53” and then a line.  Probably a 537.  Okay, good, I’m close, because what I’m looking for is 3556, and that was probably 3537.  Down about four or five houses on the other side.  Of course, that house has no light and no number that I can see.  But the house just past it I catch sight of a six and something that could be zero–either an O or a zero or possibly the letter Q, or even the Greek letter theta would be close at this point.
Confidently, I walk to the door.
And I walk away with a five dollar tip.  I’ve heard that when one of your senses is diminished, the others improve.  We already know that I’m going deaf.  I can’t hear about 80% of anything–and the rest I just ignore.  Since I’ve become a smoker, I feel like my sense of taste and smell are covered in a fine gray soot.  And now the eyes–
The eyes have always been bad.  I’ve been near-sighted since puberty.  Growing older has actually helped, because you become far-sighted.  These two-counter-acting energies have balanced each other out, and my eyes have stopped getting worse.  I think.  Well, there’s no change in acuity, but I can’t focus like I used to.  The ol’ eyeballs used to be able to change and change back, focus and refocus again, instantly, in split second, adjusting it’s size to the needed task and then snapping back quickly, like a sorority girl’s vagina.
Now my eyes are more like an old woman’s vagina.  They’re dry all the time, for one thing.  And there is no “snapping back” quickly.  Imagine rubber band that’s not a rubber band any more.  It’s just a string.  Tied in a knot.  Bottom line: whether it’s an old woman’s vagina or my eyes, you can’t see shit with either one.
So what sense have I gained, then?  I feel an increase in my sense of irony, ironically.  But what gets me by when my other senses have failed me is my sense of direction (it’s a real sense) and my audacity.  And my instincts.  I don’t have any other explanation for it, but man, can I ever find my way around like a Jedi.  And I might as well be driving around with one of the helmets on like Luke did.

Back at the store, my eyes adjust to the harsh indirect fluorescent light.  I have trouble seeing my way around, but I can feel, and I can smell.  I smell…
I smell pizza.
Okay, it’s not that bad, really.  But this is the part of growing old that bugs me.  I don’t like to have to–I don’t want to just accept it.  I don’t want to acquiesce, dammit.  I’m 45 years old, and I still feel–up here, in my head–like a kid.  How can my body be getting old when my brain is still teenager?
I was distracted from my temporary dementia by The Dude.  “Hey, man, can you show me where this street is?  I’ve been there before but I keep forgetting…”

Why I Does What I Does…

September 4, 2010 at 9:57 AM | Posted in Journal, Riding In Cars With Pizza | Leave a comment
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Why I deliver pizza part time:
Last night wasn’t typical, of course. But I’ve had some nights just as good. Last night I was scheduled for three-hours, from 5pm to 8pm—prime dinner rush.
It was threatening to rain, and I did get sprinkled on a bit, but nothing big. But we were busy, and I ended up working until 830 basically.
We were busy, but there were lulls, or spaces, where I waiting for a delivery. Also, our area is big and unwieldy, so sometimes it can take a long time to get from one end to the other, especially with suburban rush hour traffic and construction always going on. So even though I worked 3 and a half hours, and in other places I could have taken more deliveries, I took 14. That’s about 4 per hour, which is really not a bad average.
So, 14 deliveries. I get the pies in the car, I drive around, I listen to the radio, I go up to the door, give them the food and take the money, and go back to my car, and drive away. I’m not sure if you can really call it “work.”
I made 65 bucks in cash. Fourteen of that is the dollar per run I get from the company to cover gas. And then I get paid by the hour—minimum wage, which is currently 7.25
Ready for some math?
Sixty five divided by 3.5 is 18.57. Add the minimum wage to that. I made 25.82 per hour last night.
Now, the problem is, I can’t do that for 40 hours a week. First of all, they don’t need me for 40 hours. They are busy for about three hours a day, around dinner, every day. I work about 3 or 4 days per week, anywhere from 10 to 15 hours.
And that money I made is not average or typical; it’s the high of the high-low. What’s low? Several nights I have worked 3 hours and made in the neighborhood of 25 bucks in cash. Now, that still gives me about 14 bucks per hour….but your gas is included in that number.
All in all it’s a good job—if you can take it. If you’re tough enough. What does that mean?
Well, even though it is easy, and often I hesitate to call it work—you have to have a little something on the ball do it.
You have to be able to read directions and follow a map. I’m going to say it right here, right now, to your face: GPS is for pussies. If you can’t read a map you’re goddamn lower primate. And, while I do intend to get a mapbook and put it in my car in case I need it, what I have been doing so far is reading the map on the wall at the store, remembering where I’m going, and then leaving with nothing written down.
Yeah, I’m that good.
In fact, last night one of the runs I took was actually four runs: a four-stop. They routed well, and although I am still somewhat new to this area, two of the streets I had been to before, and all of them were in the same general area.
And this goes to the difference in how people read a map. If you need “directions,” like turn left here, turn right here, go two blocks—“ that’s not reading a map. That’s reading directions. What if you had the four stops I had, and didn’t know the area? You’re going to need a page of written directions. Do you have time for that?
No, you really don’t.
You look at the map, and first you see where the streets are that you need. Then, you look for main roads, and roads that are familiar to you. Then you try to string them together, what you are familiar with and the new stuff. But not with directions. Visualize the map. See the map in your head. All of the these streets you get to from McClay. You know how to get to McClay. Don’t worry about that. Get to McClay. First street on that side, then wind a bit, and there’s a court. Come back out and continue onward. Turn just past the light, and remember a street name—your street is off of that. Find your way out. Go back to the light, and head up. This is more complicated, but you remember what the map looks like in your head. You go in, you come out. Head back. Take that main drag back to the other main street, and turn up it. There’s a court off of it somewhere….there it is. Found it. Now come back.
Instead of countless directions, I remembered what the map looked like, and two street names to look for that I had to turn onto. Much, much simpler. I made the round trip in traffic in about 25 minutes. No wrong turns, no delays.
And this is why I’m better than you at reading a map, and why GPS is for pussies.

Sapphire In The Moonlight

July 12, 2010 at 10:05 PM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | Leave a comment
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No, sometimes the title really doesn’t mean anything…
After I talked to The Dude, I conspired to talk to Rob, the manager at Pizzarama.  First things first, however.
Friday, I left the bank about one-ish to see my shrink.  I brought with me some self-test for the ADD that I had done.  One was a before/after, where I graded myself on how I was before seeking help, and now.   From zero to four, with zero being none of the time and four being constantly.  On 34 questions you want to be less that 2 as an average, or less that 64.
For the before part, I scored over 80.
For after, I scored in the 30s, I think.  Even if I did cut myself a break, that’s still pretty good.  But subjectivity is in the eye of the beholder.
I did the whole test because I wanted to see where I stood–I felt that maybe I wasn’t getting better.  But this put it in perspective.  Plus, it allowed me to see (again) that many of the hurdles I face are my own, that I have to overcome.  And I have seen improvement.  Likewise, I was able to clear some of the brush from the forest, so now I can see the trees that I’ve been walking around.
What I mean is, I have a handful of big tasks that I’ve been avoiding, putting off.  I put the pro in procrastination.  But now I see them more clearly, and also see a game plan forming to tackle them.  I swear to God, you have no idea what it’s like inside my head.  Imagine a loud bar, with several bands playing and a different channel on 17 TVs all over the place.  And no one is getting carded.
After the shrink, I went to–
Hey, I had a great idea for a game.  Go the the psychiatrist’s office and sit in the waiting room, and try to guess what’s wrong with the patients by looking at them.  It’s fun; you should try it.  Feel free to vocalize your diagnoses by shouting them out like you’re playing “Yatzee!”  The first one to make someone cry wins. 

Speaking of which, afterward I visited the ex and gave her more money than I should have for child support, but I’m still behind a few months.  I’m glad she’s being cool about it.  Eventually the damn will burst.
She said something that made me so happy:  “Your son is so much like you I just want to strangle him.”  I’ve never been more proud.

Then I drove by Pizzarama, and talked to Rob.  We cleared the air, I hope, and had a good talk.  After what the Dude told me, I had to straighten shit out.  Here are a couple of points, briefly:
*  The knee:  It really was hurt, but this is not a thing that happens all the time.  I’m not a sickly guy.  I don’t call off.  But it was serious.
*  Some people thought I was being aloof:  that doesn’t describe me.  But the previous manager so emphasized that people had to be working, that I put my head down and worked so I wouldn’t be seen as fucking off.  Plus, I like to feel the place out so I don’t say something stupid.
*  Like the whole thing with the tip on the credit card.  I apologized again, hoping it would stick this time.
And Rob said we are cool, and is putting me back on for just a few days–less than I want, but he wants to make sure my knee can take it.  I can see his point; he wants to cover his ass.
Sunday I got some calls from numbers I did not know, so I ignored them.  However, I listened to my messages, and some driver chick named Ashley was looking for someone to work for her that night.  I called her back:  Hell yeah.  Her many messages and texts indicated that she was desperate enough to pay me for it, but I wanted to get in good with everyone there, so I did it for free.  I need the money, anyway.
Besides, I’d rather have a handjob.

Golden

July 8, 2010 at 10:43 PM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | Leave a comment
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Well, I thought things were going well at Pizzarama.
However, I got a call from The Dude, and he rehashed the scoop for me.  It seems that they (the bosses, the outgoing manager Alex and the incoming manager Rob) had a problem with me taking off because I hurt my knee.
Well, I can see that–I started pretty recently, and then this happens.  But shit–what could I do?
But the other thing is, Rob is still holding a grudge over the…altercation?  That’s a pretty strong word.  I got a little upset, and by the time I got back I apologized.  The story that The Dude heard corroborated all of that–
Except the apology.
And dammit, I apologize so seldom–I’m often sorry and usually feel remorse–that when I give one I mean it.  I had hoped it would stick.
I don’t apologize unless I mean it.  “Say you’re sorry” we teach our kids.  I’m not going to say it unless I feel it; anything else is dishonest.
I’m not saying I am honest, but I am saying that I do try to be.  Interface in the real world is hard.
Right before I talked to The Dude, I called the store and talked to Rob, and let him know I was ready to come back to work.  He said I wasn’t on this week’s schedule at all, and all he had me on for next week was Friday.  But the schedule wasn’t finished.
That’s a long time to go with no money, and that’s a problem right now.
The Dude also said other things that makes me think they don’t like me so much.  I’d say that would hurt my feelings if I had any, but that’s not true.  Honesty, remember?  I always thought of myself as a likable guy.  People generally like me.  Don’t they?
According to his report, I am standoffish, aloof, and a know-it-all.
Man.  That hurts.
I don’t think the word “aloof” has ever been used to describe me.  I’m fairly gregarious, although with age has come experience, if not a little wisdom.  In new situations I kind of hold back, fade into the background, and try to assess the place, the flow, and the people.  And Alec, the manager who hired me, repeated often that he expects people to always be working.  I made sure I did that.  But I interacted with people, I chatted, I showed interest and tried to learn about everyone, as well as learning about the job.
If anything, I thought they were being cliquish and snubbing me, but I put that down to the age difference, and I was generally in back trying to do my prep.  I was working, dammit.  Fucking Three Jakes got me into the habit of not standing still.  I did have a long conversation with Amanda, one of the pizza makers.  I thought we got along well.  Am I wrong?
But the know-it-all thing–maybe they have me there.  I don’t want to be like that, but I can’t help it since I really *do* know everything.  No, seriously, the only time I can remember is when I told Rob that these two weeks around the Fourth are typically the slowest of the year.  But I was self-deprecating when I said it–“I sound like an old guy when I when I say this…”
Dammit.  One guy that I did seem to get along with–Micah–The Dude tells me is not well liked there by everyone else.  Great.  I befriended the asshole.  How was I supposed to know?
I still think Rob had a bit of a hard-on for me because before I got there The Dude told him about me and all of my experience, and he thought I might have been gunning for his job.  But he’s manager now, so what does it matter?  So help me, what does it truly matter that I never wanted his fucking job to begin with?
I need to go and talk to him, in person, have a sit-down.  Have a chat, clear the air.  Hopefully let him know that I’m not the asshole he thinks I am.
Because I am a different asshole entirely.

Balance

July 6, 2010 at 10:44 PM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | Leave a comment
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I’d like to know where people in this fairly rich neighborhood I deliver in get off tipping the way they do.  I’m not complaining.  Okay…maybe I am.  But some of this shit is ridiculous.
That was my thought process the first two days I worked.  The fucking people–it doesn’t matter how big their house is or how big their order is–they tip two dollars.
I delivered 60 dollars worth of pizza to a half a million dollar house (And by the way, this is half a mil in the real world, not Califuckinfornia, where 600k gets you a 1200 square feet on an eighth of an acre.  Here in the Midwest–aka the real world–600k will get you half an acre and 4000 square feet in a great school district.) and got a two dollar tip from the mature executive with bright teeth in his pricey coif and pressed shorts dressed for leisure/action, and matching Lexi in the driveway.
If I have to refresh your memory, the minimum acceptable on 60 bones is six clams, which is only ten percent.  Nine bills would have been fifteen percent.  Then round it out to ten to show the world you’re not an asshole, asshole.
But the money is decent overall, even though it’s slow in coming.  Rob is the new manager, and he’s a young guy.  I would put him about mid-20s.  On the last night I worked before I hurt my knee, he remarked that it was a bit slow.
I said, “Look, I sound like an old asshole whenever I say this.  But I’ve been doing this for about 24 years.  The weeks right around the Fourth of July are historically the slowest of the year.  Always.  Maybe it’d be different if we were a resort town.”
“Yeah, everybody goes to the Lake.”
“I just wish I knew what the hell Lake ‘they’ are talking about.”
Rob and I had made amends, after I made the mistake of presumption.  A few days earlier, I was on a delivery.      The customer answers the door, and he’s holding a credit card.  That’s going to be a problem.  The order said cash.
The family communicates randomly, and I’m there to pick up the pieces.  The oldest daughter ordered online, but she didn’t specify a card and she says the order screen didn’t ask.  Possible, even likely.  No, I don’t have a machine to put the card, slide it (Ca-chink!) and give them a carbon, because this isn’t the 70s, or a third world country.
The family is running around back forth, collectively a group of chickens-sans-cranium, trying to come up with a solution before the buzzer goes off and they lose a turn on this game show.  I manage to get someone’s attention.
“Hey, here’s what we can do–”
I had call the store and run the card right then.  I said, “As long as you don’t need me to bring back a receipt, we’re good.”  They agreed.
I listened to the young lady’s end of the conversation, trying to pick up a hint about what was going on.  The card went through, and everything was fine.  Well, hey, Lama–How about a little something, you know, for the driver?”
But I’m not going to *ask*.  In addition to probably being against some ridiculous company policy (which wouldn’t stop me), I feel that it is just plain rude.  I didn’t ask, and they didn’t offer.  I left empty-handed.  Back in the car, I called the store and talked to Rob.
I had to fill him in on what happened–he wasn’t actually a part of it.  Oh.  I explained, and in a hurt tone, I said, “Why didn’t whoever took the card ask the customer if they wanted to tip the driver, since there was no coming back with a receipt and all?”
Well, the thought never occurred to him.  No one had ever ever done it for him, it’s not how things are done here.  He may have almost said policy, but I know that rules aren’t that specific, no matter how anal a company is.  But he didn’t quite get it.  I was mad, then I cooled down when I realized I was fighting a losing battle here.  It is only two bucks (if I’m lucky), and I’ll get over it.  I’m not going to start a fight about it.
You see–when I was a manager, and this situation occurred (customer at the door with credit card that hasn’t been run for whatever reason), when I take the call at the store, the driver is standing there.  He can’t ask for a tip, but as the nameless, faceless person in the store, I can ask for one on his behalf.  More often than not, they will say to add a few bucks, or tip in cash.  All they need is a reminder.
But it’s not done that way at Pizzarama.  The culture there I’ve experienced is that they use the facade of professionalism to cover for the fact that they are rude and a little selfish, and don’t give a shit about people.
Maybe I’m saying wrong, because I don’t think it’s a bad thing.  You KNOW how I feel about the customer.
However, in this situation, it bit me in the ass.  I had time on the long ride back to the store to think about it, and I apologized to Rob when I came back.  He may have almost said he was sorry as well, sort of a generic sorry-for-the-inconvenience-that-your-misinterpretation-caused-you kind of apology.  Still, he did say, in future scenarios he would keep that in mind.
We have achieved pizza detente.

Here We Go Around In Circles–

July 6, 2010 at 5:33 PM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | Leave a comment
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Almost as soon as I started at Pizzarama, I had to take some time off.  I hurt my knee.  How?  I don’t know.  What happened?  That’s the same question, so here’s the same answer:  I don’t know.  But it’s better now.  I’ll…be back.  I hope. 

Most jobs come my way through networking.  I don’t mean intarweb networking, I mean good ol’ fashioned knowing somebody.  If you network via a social networking site, I guess you are really hyper-networking.
My first jobs farming were of course because I knew someone.  My first job at Majik Market wasn’t so much because I knew someone, but my aunt knew they were hiring and sent me up there; I guess that counts.
My job at the warehouse I got because my dad worked there.  Now, my first job at Domino’s I got on my own, and my second job at Domino’s I got on my own because I had experience from my first one.  My brief stint at Steak n Shake happened because I knew someone.  And my job at Papa John’s (both times) I got because I knew someone.
The job at Scooter’s and the bank were both because I knew someone, and the third job at Domino’s as well as Angelina’s and Imo’s were from contacts that I had.  The Three Jakes I got on my own–and we know how well that turned out.  And this job at Pizzarama was through someone I know as well:  The Dude.
I was desperate to work, and he hooked a brother up.  His boss was hiring.  I interviewed, and it was a bit dicey–until he heard about all my experience at Domino’s.  He was a bit shocked, because it wasn’t on the application.  Well, I said, there wasn’t room…
Still, he really wanted someone who could work Sunday night.  I balked at this, and we were at an impasse.  He said he still had to interview a few more people.
I drove home thinking *shit-shit-shit.*  Before I even got to the highway, I called the manager back at the store.  I said, “Look, I’d rather work than not work.  And I can always use the money.  So I’ll work on Sunday.  Just keep that in mind.  I’ll do that.  I don’t want to turn something down just because it’s not perfect.  We can’t always have our way.”  He said okay.
A few days later he called me, and told me I had the job.  All I had to do was sell a little piece of my soul.

But the work is fine.  It’s pizza; it’s what I know.  I’ve gradually gotten to know a few people, and they seem pretty cool.  Alec is the manager–although, by this writing, I think he is gone, moved to another store.  The assistant, Rob, got promoted, and now it’s his store.  The Dude is a driver, some guy named Nick trained me (because I’ve never done this before), and there are a few others.  There are two older men, one Bulgarian, and neither of which I know the names of.  There’s a chick whose name I don’t know and a few other guys.  One of them is named John.  I’m pretty sure that’s not the chick.
Then there are some inside people, most of whom I don’t know.  One skinny young dude, and a girl named Amanda who has threatened to move to California.  Good luck with that, sister.
The routine is all too familiar.  I come in, I clock in.  I put a cartop on the car.  I get a bank.  I look at the prep list to see what I have, and get started on it, and finish it between deliveries.
The delivery area is St Charles, a predominately white area that ranges from middle-class to upper-middle, and lots of fucking traffic.  It seems that no matter where you are, you want to be someplace else, and then come back.
I have a street guide around here somewhere–dammit, I swear I’m going to find it and put it in the car.  Not that I really need it, but it’s nice to have, especially to save me the embarrassment.  So far I’ve been kicking it old school.  I mean *really* old school:  I look at the map before I leave and remember where I’m going.
Pizzarama is a giant in the industry.  I’m using an alias, and I hope you don’t figure it out because I’m sure they have rules about this.  Whatever–a boy’s gotta write, right?
But Pizzarama has a reputation as being a bit impersonal…and I don’t think they give a shit.  Okay.  We’ll do it your way.  They do have a pretty good structure/system in place, even though some of it seemed odd to me at first.
First of all, at every other place I’ve delivered, you take deliveries and collect the money, and turn it in at the end of the night.  Here, after every delivery, you cash out for that run.  Every time.  Also, the drivers don’t pick their own runs or check themselves out on deliveries.  Ever.  That and the cashing out is always done by a manager.  Doesn’t that slow them down?
Well, yeah.  But they aren’t overly concerned with speed.  I mean, it’s restaurant, so when it’s busy they work fast.  But not at the expense of making mistakes or being sloppy.  The toppings on every pizza are weighed and measured.  If one person has 10 pizzas to make, then she just hunkers down and makes them.  The manager rolls around doing his thing with the cash and other stuff, and then at some point he may amble over to the makeline.   But we give a realistic delivery time.  If we get busy, we up it.
At all the other places I’ve worked, I’ve done something on the production end.  Made pizzas, made sammiches, worked the grill–the whole nine yards, and some change.  I’d like to learn how they make pizzas here, just because it’s a passion of mind.
But so far all I’ve done is cut some pizzas, and put them in boxes.  It’ll come around.

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