I delivered pizzas through college for many years. Sometimes part-time, sometimes full-time. I have worked as a manager, but primarily was a driver.
You learn a lot about the world as a driver. Let’s get the most controversial one out of the way.
1. Race & Tipping
It is true that black people are the worst tippers, on average, than other races. However, it isn’t as terrible as some would make it out. Once you control for class and being raised by a single mother, it explains much of difference. If you can believe it, I have actually diagrammed the demographics of my customers. I am very talkative and personable, so I glean a lot from my customers.
Part of the idea that black people are far worse tippers is the fact that getting stiffed really sucks. In your anger, you notice things that aren’t all that relevant. I have kept charts, racially, of who stiffs. Blacks are significantly more likely to stiff, but when black people tip, they tend to be more generous than whites.
The worst tippers are black females who are middle-class and above. I recently had a woman in this demographic request her exact change down to the pennies. She was living in a small mansion. I suppose her penny-pinching could have helped her in life, but it’s pretty universal.
Class is still the most determinant of tipping behaviors. Poor people are not universally bad tippers by any stretch – you can tell who will tip almost immediately. Maybe it is just a sixth sense I have developed, but I know almost immediately if they will tip or not. Maybe I sense their guilt over knowing they won’t tip – although many people clearly don’t give a damn if they stiff you or not. These sorts of people are usually young and male.
As for other races, cultural divides loom large. Asian and Indian immigrants are pretty bad at tipping, but not because they stiff, but because they often give just a dollar. I don’t know much culturally about either race, so I will leave it at that.
2. People Are Assholes When They Are Hungry
I have never seen so much anger than when people are angry and they don’t get their food or get their order screwed up. Sometimes I think people want to crush their problems on somebody’s head and they pick an easy target in a person working a low-status job.
Just about all of the hate directed at me has come through my job. I have worked stores with dine-in, or stores with just delivery/carryout. The dine-in’s are the worst and I have seen people come to blows in the parking lot. I have seen a child get beat outright in a bathroom, I have seen douchebags get arrested by an off-duty cop for beating the shit out of his girlfriend in the parking lot.
For some reason, being hungry causes people to do stupid shit. Otherwise seemingly well-adjusted people get irascible and say some extremely mean-spirited shit. I have been called, trash, worthless, dumber than shit, “not worthy of an abortion,” and I need to work on my “manajorial skills.”
When working a service job like this, you need to have a thick skin or you will flame out. Just from a human relations standpoint, you really have to understand their anger is rarely about you, but their anger over service or product quality. Sometimes people are just looking for a fight. I have learned to not take it seriously.
3. Dinner Rushes Are Fucking Insane
TL;DR: If you are not on your shit, an intense dinner rush will destroy you.
If you work a store with dine-in, delivery and carryout, shit can hit the fan on any night. One the worst rushes I worked was a Monday in the middle of a heat spell in July. Should be easy right? Wrong. Had one cook, three drivers, two servers and a dishwasher. Got completely gobsmacked. I had to run cut table, wait multiple tables all the while trying to keep carryout caught up and cashing everybody out. I also had to help on make table to keep my slow-ass cook up to speed.
Sure, in the end I pocketed 40 bucks while making manager wages, but for about three hours, it was sheer insanity. You really have to be able to multi-task and keep on your grind. Situations like these mean your only break is to piss. I have seen multiple people crack and walk out. I recall a female manager who burst into sobbing tears during her first intense rush as a new manager. I was just a driver at that time, but I had to run the store while she cried herself sane for like 20 minutes.
You gotta have some spine in you to survive these rushes. One night all I had, in store, was two drivers and a server. I had to cook everything and take about 1/3 of the tables. I had to answer phones as my drivers were on the road constantly. It was fucking brutal. One of my drivers was a retired dude and bought me a bottle of Sailor Jerry (I was only 20) to reward me for putting up with all that bullshit. We got blacked-out drunk at his crib later that night.
4. Meeting Women Is Incredibly Easy
I have worked quite a bit on opening women just because you meet so many people delivering, cashing out carry-out or serving.
I am a good-looking guy, so the wheels are greased a good bit in my favor, but I have been able to score a good bit of numbers from women. If they are a regular and attractive, you have to get on that tip and get to know them and get those digits. I met a good bit of women this way. I never cleaned up, but I did alright.
Also, for some reason, women love flirting with delivery drivers. I have heard this from other drivers, as well. Maybe it is just the cultural stereotype.
5. You Learn About Race And Class
I am not going to talk about class, as I grew up in an impoverished town. As for race, for a white guy like me, it was an instructive endeavor. I worked with a friend who didn’t learn much about race in America, so it is there if you want to learn.
It is very easy to talk theoretically about the issues black people face, but it isn’t as easy to actually see it and experience it first-hand. I have been there when my black manager gets called a “dumb fucking n*gger” by some fool. Unsurprisingly, white women are more likely to do this than white men.
In her own words, it isn’t as common as some would suggest, but when it happens it is very obvious and often very hateful. However, she told me (and I witnessed) that black women are often the instigators. She had multiple threats of violence – mostly from black women. She got jumped by some angry black women in the parking lot, had a plate thrown at her and endless amounts of vitriolic hate spewed at her verbally.
6. Working Delivery Rubs Some People The Wrong Way
I have a clear memory of some people in law school being extremely put off that I worked in the service industry – multiple douchebags who went to Harvard or Yale that were some the most stuck up dipshits I have every encountered.
I remember one classmate of mine, during orientation – when I explained I worked as a driver through undergrad – sighing loudly and actually said that it “really spoke to quality of the incoming class.” I recall another person saying I was an affirmative action sympathy case. This is completely liberal law school – I was further alienated because I wasn’t a Democrat.
You tell a lot about somebody by how they treat people who work in lower-status professions. I handled every insult gracefully, deflecting with humor or outright stomping them out. Still, you get a picture of a self-absorbed snob for these sorts of people. Often, they are first ones talking about class oppression or misogyny – in real life they don’t give a damn about anybody who doesn’t elevate their social status.
7. It Teaches You To Be Humble
I have learned a lot from delivering, but one the most important lessons is humility. When you start out, you got to pay your dues to move up the ladder. Every store will have some long term drivers that often are dicks. You have to prove yourself to be capable of the grind.
Also, consider the heated nature of the job. The first time some random person dumps on you badly it can hurt. Since I was just 18 when I started, the first time somebody really went in on me it hurt very much. However, you learn to deal with.
It isn’t just humility, but also confidence. You learn to deal with angry and hateful people – if you aware enough, you learn to deal with them in a way that is healthy and mature. It can be tough, as some people are begging for a verbal ass-beating, but it is almost always best to let it go. Let them look like the asshole for bleating on with no vengeful response from you.
The job teaches you respect for low-paid but high-stress jobs like in the service industry. The difficultly in the job doesn’t lie in the actual work contracted for, but in the day-to-day grind of rushes, assholes and the stressful nature of the job. Still, it is a job I will never regret taking on and have multiple positive memories from the experience.
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