Picture this: You take your wife and four kids to a nice restaurant. At the end of your meal, the waitress presents you with a tab of, oh, say $60. She’s been nice, joked around with the kids, and given you good service. For serving six, she deserves a tip of say conservatively 9 to 15 bucks, or more. The next night, the wife doesn’t feel like cooking; there’s a game on TV, and the kids are chanting Pizza! Pizza! Pizza!.
Do you realize that people will tip a waitress 10-20 bucks to bring your food 20-30 feet from a kitchen to your table, but only give a pizza driver a dollar for the same thing after he’s driven a few miles through rain or snow, cussed at traffic jams, and has been dealing with surly customers all day who complained about how long it took!
Having been a pizza driver for a few major chains, on and off, part and full time, to make ends meet, I’ve seen the pizza business as a customer and a driver.
There are a few things I’d like to point out.
That delivery charge.
Even if he did get all of it, (which he doesn’t) is $1.75 really a fair tip?
Let’s look at the facts.
Usually the driver only gets a dollar of it — if that, depending on the chain he works for. This covers:
A. Gas at nearly, or above, three bucks a gallon.
B. Insurance. His rates go through the roof the moment his provider finds out he’s delivering pizza.
C. Wear, tear, tires, oil changes and maintenance on a car that averaging about 100-125 miles a day (that’s on average about 500 to 750 a week).
He’s paid a lot less than you think he is.
Most places pay pizza drivers at, and sometimes below, minimum wage! Why? They consider them the same as waitresses, and can get away with it. Pizza drivers are expected to make up the difference with their tips – which they have to report at checkout at the end of the day, and pay taxes on.
Drivers do have ways of getting revenge that have nothing to do with tampering with your food.
Think about it. You’ve just loaded three deliveries into your car, and have approximately 20 minutes to get all three of them there. This entails juggling around three or more 2-liters of pop, a couple salads, two or three subs, and three heavy fully-loaded pizza bags that immediately steam up your windows.
In order of the times they were phoned in:
Customer A is two miles away and, because they live so close, they usually get their food within about 10 minutes, always complain, never leave the porch light on, and use the delivery charge as an excuse not to tip. They usually claim they have a multi-dollar-off coupon on the phone, but can’t ever seem to find it at the door. “Well, sorry you can’t deduct it, we were going to use it as your tip!”
Customer B is nine miles away, has five kids, and a dog, who always greets you at the door cheering you like a superhero; and though they’re on a tight budget, they always tip about $3.
Customer C is 11 miles away, lives alone in an eldercare facility. You suspect he orders because he’s an older fellow who never gets any visitors. He usually tips $5 and the coin change for your driving all that way out there to make brief, but smiling conversation about the weather or the local sports team.
Tell me, what order would YOU take them in, despite the order they were phoned in. Personally I’d go B-C-A. Others would go C-B-A, but I’ll tell you something: none of them would take customer A first. In my years of experience at this, I’ve tried taking A first and made a big deal about how fast it got there, I joked and smiled a lot, but if they’ve gotten away with not tipping for a while, they’ll never change.
After some recent business reversals, I took to delivering full time. I’ve been disabled since November 2004, because I only had $51 on me during an armed robbery, and three guys didn’t believe that’s all I had, so they beat me over the head with the butt of a .45 automatic. Result: nine staples in my scalp and they broke two ribs. By stomping on me while I was on the ground to keep me from moving, they broke my foot (an implant was needed to replace an irreparable bone), crushed my ankle (couldn’t be repaired and is now fused into one inflexible piece), and fractured my left leg above and below my knee. Eventually, I will require an artificial knee. Total: nine surgeries and one to go, surviving on workman’s comp, and I’ve been declared permanently disabled by Social Security.
Pizza drivers face this danger every day, and in locations you’d think would be the safest place in the world, (in my case 200 yards from the front door of the shop).
Despite all this, you’re going to give that driver only a dollar or less?
Now don’t get me wrong; if the driver has a bad attitude or gives you lousy service, by all means don’t tip. But at the bare minimum he deserves 15 percent.
But that’s only my opinion.