Today I started delivering pizza again.
On my first day, a coworker was the victim of domestic violence in the parking lot. With her baby in the car.
So lots of cops.
Also the assistant manager made me take my nose jewelry out. Ears are fine, at least.
Btdubs, I got a new helix piercing last week. Right ear.
And I have a super awesome migraine. But now I’m finally home and eating a taco.
Jana Burke peered into the fridge. Same old bunch of celery, bag of baby carrots, not enough milk for a bowl of cereal, and leftover chili alongside the year’s worth of condiments that always manages to build up in the shelves on the door.
She blew her bangs across her forehead and rocked back on her heels, still holding the door open. At least I’m fortunate enough to be able to order out, she thought, slamming the poor fridge shut and reaching across the counter for her phone.
“Pizza or Chinese?” she hollered down the hall. No answer. She stomped back to Daniel’s room in her stocking feet and knocked on his door, chuckling a little at the thought that she was old enough to parent a teenager. After a moment of rustling, the door opened inward.
“What?” Daniel asked.
“Pizza or Chinese?” Jana repeated.
“Oh. Sesame chicken, please. And eggrolls. Thanks.” Daniel turned back to his desk, closing the door as he went.
Jana shook her head and dialed their favorite Chinese restaurant and sat down in her favorite chair as it rang.
Celeste twisted the promise ring on her finger. She closed her eyes and thought back to when her boyfriend Mark gave it to her.
It was August 27, 2002. After a long after noon studying at the library, the two hungrily moved on to the nearest pizza parlor, Sally’s. It was Celeste’s favorite restaurant, and she loved ordering her pizza and then waiting for it outside on the patio and dining al fresco, every now and then tossing a bit of crust to a hungry bird hopping nearby.
That fateful day, Mark ordered their usual, a hand-tossed pepperoni and sausage with extra cheese and two Cokes. They took their red plastic cups of soda and retired to Celeste’s favorite patio table, the one in the far corner with the cracked umbrella. They sat next to each other, on adjacent sides of the square table.
When the waitress came outside bearing their pie, Mark and Celeste cheered. It was their ritual every time they came to Sally’s. Aside from that one time they scared a brand new waitress and she dropped the entire pizza on the ground, it always went off without a hitch. And a good time was had by all. Today was no different.
They ate in companionable silence, smiling and staring adoringly into each others’ eyes every so often. By the time they’d eaten their fill, though, Celeste was starting to wonder what was wrong with Mark. He was acting differently. Nothing specific that she could put her finger on, just…different. He got up to get a box to put the rest of their pizza in and she watched him with concerned eyes, letting the worry that she’d hidden so well come to the surface.
When Mark came back with the box, he placed the slices into it and closed it up, then walked around to Celeste’s side of the table and got down on one knee before her, pulling a ring box from his jeans pocket. She clapped both hands to her mouth in shock and surprise. So that’s what he’s been planning, she thought.
Mark had a lovely little speech about their youth and how much they loved each other in spite of that and how one day he would ask her to marry him. Celeste began sobbing halfway through, so she didn’t remember the exact words, but she was sure they were perfect. Mark was perfect, and all was well with the world.
When he was done and the ring was on her finger, the one other couple on the patio applauded, and Celeste smiled at them. Mark picked up their pizza and left a tip on the table for the waitress and they left, on their way to Celeste’s house.
They’d gone less than a block when a nosy bar patron leered at them. “What makes you so happy, huh?” she snarled at them. “Give it time, and you’ll find out all your assumptions are wrong, and it’s a rotten world we live in.” Mark tugged Celeste along by the hand, telling her to ignore the woman, that she doesn’t know anything. Celeste nodded, but the seeds of doubt had been planted.
At the next alleyway, the one that Celeste had always, always feared more than any other, without knowing the reason, someone grabbed Mark and pulled him around the corner. Celeste was jerked along behind, refusing to let go of Mark’s hand. She caught a glimpse of someone in a ski mask, and that was all she remembered.
No one ever found hide nor hair of Mark, but Celeste never gave up hope. She lived her entire life knowing that he could be right around the next corner.
“That guy’s a joke anyway, Ems. You go. Bring the sexy undies that I know you bought for this trip and just enjoy being with yourself. Trust me, you’ll have a better time than you would ever believe.”
Her sister Sarah’s words echoed in her head, and Emily smiled. Of course she was right. Sarah was always right. It was nice to just hang out and relax and feel good about herself with no pressure. The cabin was secluded enough that she could sunbathe nude, but not too far from the most important amenities.
She finished up her game of solitaire and grabbed her phone to order a pizza with lots of extra cheese.
I’ve written about superstition.
I thought I’d written about pizza delivery superstition, but it would seem that I have not.
So I will.
See, there’s a big difference between the facts of pizza delivery and the superstition of pizza delivery, although many of them are easily conflated.
It’s a fact that American pizza drivers depend on tips–just ask the IRS. The government wants its cut of those tips as well, so you’d better claim some, or face an audit.
It’s superstition that a dollar is a fair tip. While drivers must be compensated for mileage, the amount paid by most, if not all, pizza chains doesn’t even cover half of the drivers’ operating costs. It’s not just gas; it’s tires and oil changes and wiper blades and maybe even a window every now and then.
What’s that? Everyone who drives has to purchase those things? You’re right, that’s true, but how often do you buy tires? If you’re not buying one or two a month, it doesn’t really compare. And oil changes every three months? When I was delivering, I was overdue after three weeks.
It’s superstition that the company provides a cell phone or GPS. That’s far too much money that could be lining the owners’ pockets instead.
It’s superstition (now) that if you don’t get your pizza in less than thirty minutes it’s free. It’s a fact that if a driver is in an accident they’re trained to first remove their cartop sign so no one knows a professional was involved.
The biggest superstition that plagues poor pizza delivery drivers, however, is that they can do anything at all at the door if you check your pizza and it’s wrong. Pizza drivers do not have an oven in their car. They do not have spare pizzas. If it’s wrong, the one and only thing they can do is the same thing you can do: call and complain. So don’t hold them up. Just check it inside and make that phone call yourself. The pizza drivers will appreciate that. They’ll appreciate it more if you tip them for a second trip with the correct order, but they’ll still appreciate not having to stand around while you try to open and close the pizza boxes while inexperiencedly juggling them.
How about some driver facts and superstitions?
- Lucky cartop signs are a thing. I have witnessed physical fights break out over who gets which sign.
- If the first run of the shift tips well, it’ll be a bad night for tips. If the first run stiffs you, you’re gonna make a killing.
- Lucky socks are also a thing.
- Female pizza drivers make more tips than male pizza drivers.
- Obviously-pregnant pizza drivers make more tips than anyone.
- If you tip well, good pizza drivers remember you. They will go out of their way to make sure you get your order first.
This is a Kajun Pizza from Johnny’s Pizza House.
Every year we get super excited as crawfish season draws near, because it always brings this deliciousness, with crawfish, shrimp, fake crab, and andouille sausage.
For the next few weeks or so, this is what pizza night will consist of. Yum!