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I Am A Pizza Delivery Guy

I don't care what our government's bean counters have been saying about the economy "recovering." It isn't, and it's not getting any better. But this really isn't news to people like me who have spent the past several months (or in my case, the past three years) trying to land a decent job we're qualified for - or hell, even minimum-wage jobs we're overqualified for.

If nothing else, the whole rotten experience has given me a vast new appreciation for our ancestors who somehow managed to make it through The Great Depression or The Dust Bowl without blowing their brains out.

But being hopeless isn't the same as being helpless, because there is one basic-survival job that has always been available even in times of dread like this; a job that has over the past few generations provided sustenance to high school and college kids, married guys with second mortgages, and divorced guys with too much alimony and too little paycheck left over from their daytime jobs.

This is why I am Pizza Delivery Guy.

I have a college education. I have won industry awards for my work. I am a genuinely well-mannered, congenial and helpful person. The problem is, I can't seem to buy a job, which seems to be the same problem a lot of people even smarter and more educated than I am are having these days. So, four nights a week from 4 p.m. to roughly 11 p.m., I've been Pizza Delivery Guy at a neighborhood mom-and-pop pizza joint on the South Side.

I actually like working there. The owners are good people who actually appreciate the people who work for them, they care about taking care of their customers, and they have a damn good pizza that anyone who has ever grown up on the South Side would recognize in a heartbeat. The three other Pizza Delivery Guys have been working there for several years. And believe me, if you've ever been a Pizza Delivery Guy at any point in your life, you'd know that's saying something fairly remarkable about who's running the place.

For me, being Pizza Delivery Guy is more that something that just helps keep my lights and my cell phone on, and my laptop connected to the Internet so I can network and keep sending out scads of resumes that are routinely passed over. It's something that, if nothing else, allows me to continue being a fine upstanding citizen because it's basically the only thing preventing me from becoming your kid's drug dealer or breaking into your house to steal your good stuff while you're away. Believe me, you don't have to be wealthy to any extent for me to rip you off; all of that ordinary sterling silver and 14-karat gold jewelry in that box on your dresser is worth a substantial penny these days, and I can have it all melted down for cash the same day. Unlike pawn shops, the people I know aren't required to record every piece of ordinary-everyday costume and heirloom bling that comes their way.

On the surface, it's easy to write off schlepping pizza as one of those last-resort unskilled-labor loser jobs that seem ideally created for social rejects with ridiculously excessive tattooery, dropouts who can't master a simple GED exam, or those without the personal graces to function within structured corporate environments. In all fairness, there are people like that filling jobs like mine. Pushing a broom, stocking auto parts, or choking chickens eight hours a day doesn't take a vast amount of intelligence or skill. But if that were 100 percent true, every single person collecting your tolls, shining your shoes, cleaning your urinals, serving your drinks, digging your graves, delivering your mail, filling your potholes, or collecting your garbage is a lazy, antisocial fuck completely devoid of any higher intelligence or initiative.

Yet, without these people, civilization as we all enjoy it would basically grind to a halt. Think you're so smart and gifted, motherfucker? Try growing your own goddamn food in your back yard and see how far you get, then.

Yeah, navigating a car in snowstorms, monsoons, numbing cold and scorching heat to bring a hot meal to your door because you're too lazy or can't be bothered to microwave a simple TV dinner doesn't take any huge skill whatsoever. All it takes to be Pizza Delivery Guy is a reliable car and a working knowledge of the neighborhood's streets. But that's not why I don't mind being Pizza Delivery Guy. First and foremost, the money's pretty damn good for a job that isn't physically demanding and asks nothing more of me than to be somewhere for six hours four nights a week. I average around $80 even on slow weeknights; $125 or even $150 on a busy Saturday night is more the rule than the exception. Call me a loser if it makes you feel superior, but I'm still a loser with $400 to $500 cash in my pocket every single week. It's not a living or a career by any means, but I'm far better off than your typical Walmart shelf stocker logging twice as many hours to put up with 10 times the bullshit from customers and your asshole manager.

And if there's a single entry-level Walmart job available to any high school dropout and educated unfortunate off the street just the same with the potential to go home with up to $20 an hour on a Saturday night, the world would like to know about it.

But as any good bartender or bellboy knows all too well, this kind of money doesn't just come to you automatically by default or by right. We survive primarily on tips, and we actually have to work for the privilege of getting a damn good one. Yeah, the basic delivery guy/bartender gratuity of a buck or two in regular-Joe neighborhoods like mine has always been common simply because everyone knows that people like me provide a basic service that you're either too lazy or incapable of doing yourself even on occasions when the service is nothing remarkable. But consistently scoring the $5 - and on rare occasion the $10 - tip from your regulars (and even those you're serving for the first time) who aren't drunk takes a fair grasp of interpersonal skills and - hell yeah - actual dedication to your lowly, loser-ass job and - hell yeah - not looking like a loser doing some loser-ass job.

Any Pizza Delivery Guy who basically manages to not deliver food cold and late can make $40 on a really slow night. But a good Pizza Delivery Guy will make $70 doing the same number of deliveries that same really slow night.

It's not rocket science, and I'm by no means a rocket scientist. But you know what? When I show up your doorstep with a smile and a cheerful demeanor, I know full well that you are basically the only thing keeping me from being homeless or setting up a home meth lab these days.

And that is basically why I'll probably be one of the best Pizza Delivery Guys you'll ever meet on your front porch.

-

Guy Essenfahr is our pseudononymous man on the pizza delivery beat. He welcomes your comments. And for more tales of working life, see our Life At Work archive.



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Posted on June 15, 2012


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