They work hard to deliver hot, cheesy goodness to your front door and expect only a paltry tip in return. They are pizza guys and their stories deserve to be heard. The following is the tale as told to me by such a pizza guy. Should he attach his name to this bit of prose it is absolutely certain that he would be fired by the corporate pizza powers that be. To preserve his job (and my extra large with pepperoni and mushrooms) while allowing him a theraputic release, I present to you the reasons your pizza delivery guy hates you.
Recently, New Times intern Sarah Ventre provided an exhaustive list of reasons why your cocktail waitress hates you (Note: Sarah works at an indie bar that has a sense of humor about this sort of thing. This pizza guy's corporate bosses do not.) Judging by some of the comments her article received, the list clearly hit a nerve -- both with her fellow servers who share her pain and with the rude customers who got a sobering dose of reality.
Not to be outdone, I have decided that, as an even lower member of the food service hierarchy, I deserve to have my voice heard.
I am a pizza guy.
I'm not really sure why pizza guys are viewed with such pity and disdain by the general public, but please understand that telling people you're a waitress/server is like telling them you're a Fortune 500 CEO compared to telling people you deliver pizzas.
Q: How do you get a University of Nebraska graduate off your doorstep?
A: Pay him for the pizza.
Exhibit B: This article from The Onion.
So, yeah, I'm not familiar with any college football jokes or Onion articles featuring servers as the punchline. I don't want to turn this into a pizza guys vs. servers debate, since, in the words of the late, great Eazy-E, we're all in the same gang. But it's at least worth noting that, unlike a server, whose primary challenge is delivering your food from the kitchen to your table in a reasonable amount of time, a pizza guy uses his own vehicle filled with gas he paid for and literally risks life and limb to bring your dinner to your front fucking door.
At a bare minimum, being a pizza guy requires the ability to read a map, understand block numbering systems (which, in the Valley, inexplicably vary from one suburb to the next) and know which way is north, south, east or west. If you think these are fairly simple criteria, you probably haven't asked the average person for directions lately.
So without further ado, here is my list of reasons why your pizza guy hates you. It's not a comprehensive list (I don't think New Times has the bandwidth for that), and I'm not going to rank them or give them clever names. These are just the biggest pet peeves I've accumulated in nearly two decades of delivering pizzas. If I can change the behavior of even a handful of jackass customers, then this has been time well spent.
You're a shitty tipper
Okay, we might as well get this one out of the way right out of the gate. Unless your pizza guy shows up two hours late with cold pizza, warm soda and a cigarette dangling from his mouth, there is simply no excuse for stiffing us or giving us a shitty tip. It might be hard to believe, but nine times out of 10, when your pizza guy shows up a little late, it probably wasn't even his fault. We can only deliver orders as fast as they come out of the oven and most of the time, late orders are the result of the store being understaffed and subsequently falling behind on the production end. Ideally in this situation, you hope that the manager in charge is communicating with order-takers and making sure that customers are being quoted a reasonable delivery time when they place their order. In the real world, this isn't always the case. But try to keep in mind that even if the store has fallen behind and you get your pizza 20 minutes later than you were quoted, odds are good that it's still hot and fresh out of the oven. It's not like the driver has been running personal errands while your pizza is getting cold in his passenger seat.
Rather than stiffing the driver, a better way to resolve the situation would be to call the pizza place and (politely) let the manager know that you were disappointed with your experience. You'll most likely get some sort of compensation for your next order. On the off chance that the delivery driver was actually at fault, a customer complaint is much more likely to light a fire under his ass than a shitty tip.
In my experience, however, most shitty tips are less a result of bad service than of customer ignorance or apathy. Here are some common excuses for giving a shitty tip (or no tip at all), followed by why you are either wrong or just don't care:
"There was a delivery charge already added to the order."
Yes, most pizza places add a delivery charge to your order, but not all of that goes to the driver. Some of it is used to offset the insurance costs involved with having delivery drivers on the road. The rest of it (usually between 75 cents and $1.50) is, in fact, given to the driver. However, this is not a "tip." When you add up the cost of gas, plus the costs of repairs and maintenance on a vehicle that logs anywhere from 50-200 miles per shift, we wouldn't even break even on delivery fees alone.
"Pizza guys make a better hourly wage than servers."
While this is generally true, it is starting to change. The place that I work at, for example, pays drivers minimum wage while they're in the store, but only $4.25/hour while they're on a delivery. For a driver who works primarily rush shifts and spends most of his/her time on the road, they are making almost exactly what a server would make. Generally speaking, pizza guys don't expect as much as the 18-20 percent you should be tipping servers. As a rule of thumb, an acceptable tip for a pizza guy is whatever is greater between $3 or 10 percent of the bill. Of course, if you can afford to tip more than that, it is greatly appreciated, because there will always be assholes out there who stiff the pizza guy regardless.
"Sorry. I don't have any cash on me."
Um, did you notice the little line on the credit card slip you just signed that read "tip"? You can go ahead and write it in there. The store will reimburse me, I promise. Alternately, maybe you could ask one of your 20 or so co-workers standing right behind you to loan you a few bucks so you can tip the pizza guy. Just sayin'.
"Sorry. I can't really afford to give you a tip. Times are tough, you know."
To quote the first commenter from Sarah's article, "cry me a river." If you're so broke, go eat at fucking McDonald's. Or better yet, go to the grocery store and cook your own goddamn food. Times are tough for everyone, and I rely on tips to pay my mortgage and put food in my pets' bowls. If you can't afford to tip the pizza guy, you shouldn't be ordering pizza in the first place.
"There's no law that says I have to tip. If you don't like it, ask your boss for a raise or get a different job."
Listen, dickwad, while you are technically correct that you are not mandated to tip anyone for anything, that's just how the system works, and people like you are taking advantage of that system. Let's imagine for a moment that everyone shared your point of view. If nobody tipped, then nobody would work for the shit wages that tipped employees get paid. Employers would have to pay those employees more, and if you think that cost isn't going to get passed on to the customer by simply charging more for the product, then you need to go back to school and sign up for Econ 101. You're either going to pay $12 for your pizza and tip the pizza guy $3, or you're eventually just going to pay $15 for your pizza. Pick your poison, cheapskate.
One final note on tipping: Before you decide to stiff the pizza guy, it's a good idea to keep in mind that we are bringing you food that you're going to ingest into your system. Pizza guys (and servers, for that matter) have memories like elephants and we will remember who tips poorly and who tips well. While I can honestly say that I have never spat in or otherwise "altered" a customer's food because they have tipped me poorly, there are plenty of other people in the food service industry with fewer scruples than me. One thing I will freely admit to, though, is playing favorites. If I'm leaving the store with two or more deliveries and one of them is going to a customer who consistently tips poorly, you'd better believe that order is getting delivered last, regardless of which one is older. By the same token, if I know one of them is a consistently good tipper, that order is getting taken first. So just remember the old axiom - you get what you pay for (and sometimes, god forbid, a little something extra).
With that out of the way, let's look at some of the more minor ways you can piss off your pizza guy:
You won't answer your phone
Ever wonder why the first thing you're asked for when placing a pizza order is your phone number? It's so that if we have a question about your order, we can actually contact you. Sometimes unforeseen shit comes up. Maybe we're out of Diet Wild Cherry Pepsi or anchovies. Maybe the order-taker got your address wrong. Maybe I was attacked by a pack of javelinas en route to your house. In any case, if you don't provide a working phone number that you're willing to answer, we can't relay any of this information to you and find a mutually agreeable solution. Just answer your damn phone.
You didn't give enough information to the order-taker
When ordering a pizza, try to keep in mind that the 16-year-old high school sophomore taking your order is not psychic. If your name is John and you work at a company with 300 other people, you should probably provide a last name. If you're staying at a hotel, the room number would be helpful. If you live in a gated community, let us know the gate code. (When coupled with not answering your phone, these can be especially annoying.)
You didn't turn your porch light on
Even if I have the right address and I'm on the right street, it's not going to do a lot of good if I can't read the address on your house. I'll eventually find you, of course, but you're only slowing down the process by leaving your porch light off.
You left your pit bull loose in the front yard
I'm sure Fido is really a sweetheart, and I'll be happy to give him a pat on the head once you've confirmed that he's not going to chew my nuts off, but for god's sake, keep him in the house until after I show up.
You want to pay with a $50 or $100 bill
This is perfectly fine, assuming your total comes to more than $30 or $80, respectively. Otherwise, you're not getting your food until you break out the "real" money. Seriously, why do people even carry big bills anymore? Does it make you feel rich? Do you not trust banks? Have you not noticed the signs in damn near every store you walk into that say "We will not accept bills larger than $20"? They're a fucking inconvenience, and you know it, or else you wouldn't be asking me to break the goddamn thing. From now on, when you cash your paycheck at the convenience store, just ask them for twenties.
You want to pay in coins
A couple bucks in quarters is no big deal, but please don't hand me a baggie full of loose change unless you want to stand there and wait for me to count it before you get your food.
You keep me waiting in the lobby of your workplace for more than five minutes
Look, I really don't care if you were just closing a big sale and couldn't get off the phone. If you ordered pizza 30 minutes ago, you shouldn't have even made that call in the first place. This is why I remove the pizzas from the hot bag as soon as the receptionist tells you your pizza is here. The clock is ticking, Ricky Roma.
You let your kids answer the door and/or pay for the pizza
This might seem really cute to you, but really, it's just annoying. Even if your little angel manages not to drop the two extra large pizzas and 50 wings I just handed to him, odds are good the little fucker just pocketed half my tip.
You called five minutes before we close
Yeah, yeah, yeah. If we're open 'til 11, that means 11, not 10:55. That doesn't make it any less sucky to have to drag all the shit back out of the walk-in to make your small one-topping pie. At least try to tip me a couple extra bucks. There are people that need killing on Modern Warfare 2 and I could almost taste that first beer, goddamnit.
You're not ready to order when you call
Pizza Guy: Thanks for calling Pizza Shack, what can I get for you tonight?
Customer: Hold on a sec. (to friends) Hey, what do you guys want on your pizza?
Couldn't you have had this conversation before you called the pizza place? Also, don't ask me what toppings we have. If you want to know if we have a specific topping, I'll gladly tell you, but if you think I'm going to recite our entire menu for you over the phone, you're sorely mistaken.
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You try to wheel and deal when placing an order
It's amazing how many times I'll answer the phone and suddenly feel like a Tijuana street vendor. Do you haggle over the price of your food at Durant's, or even at fucking Applebee's, for that matter? If you want to know what kind of specials we're running, just ask, but don't act like I'm a fucking used car salesman.
You don't offer a hit when it's obvious you've been smoking weed
It's a tired cliché that every pizza guy is a stoner. Those kinds of unfair stereotypes are what perpetuates the negative image of pizza guys in the first place. That said, when you answer the door in a tie-dyed Widespread Panic T-shirt and a cloud of smoke billowing around you, hook a brotha up. Don't bother offering a beer, what with Arizona's awesome DUI laws and all, but a little toke of the ol' ganja sure takes the edge off of dealing with a bunch of filthy hippies who are too baked to count their change. By the way, thanks for that $10 tip, Cheech.