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5 Things I Learned on the Job as a Pizza Delivery Girl

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As told by Jeanette, Los Angeles, CA (Names have been changed for anonymity.)

I went to college in Bakersfield, California–about 300 miles away from home and needed a job—my first job. A job that required as little effort as possible, yet still offered the hope of tips. Waiting tables was out — too much stress for a student already worried about holding a 4.0 GPA. Pizza delivery was my best bet, so I applied to the big national pizza chain in town. The atmosphere in the shop was fun (all of my coworkers were fellow students), I learned the lay of the land while I was on deliveries, and had access to all the pizza I could eat. I learned many things those 18 months on the job–here are a mere five…


1. Special Delivery Requests Will Be Weird–Prepare for Adventure
Tips are everything in the pizza delivery game and if you want the big tips, you have to go the extra mile—sometimes literally. During a run, one of my regulars asked me, in future deliveries, if I’d stop by the nearby gas station and buy him a pack of cigarettes. He paid me almost triple the cost of a pack for the effort. (He lived in the foothills—about 10 miles away from town). After that, I always delivered his three-times-a-week pepperoni and bell pepper pie with a pack of Marlboro Lights. I could make an easy $40 a week off “the Marlboro Man” (which is what we called him back at the shop).

Another time, someone called in an order, then asked to speak to the person who was to deliver his sausage and bacon pizza–me. “When you deliver the pizza,” the hushed voice said. “Can you go to the window on the left side of the house with the black light in the window?” I didn’t ask why, but I assured him I was cool with the covert op. When I got to the house, I walked up to the window with the tiny black light and tapped on the glass. The window slowly went up and a hand reached out with a wad full of dollar bills. It was late at night, not a lot of light, so I sort of just blindly deposited the pizza box in the window’s tiny sliver of an opening. Immediately after, the same hand reached out with another wad of singles–my tip. “Can you always deliver it like this?” The voice whispered. “The pizza, through this window?” After a few window deliveries, I found out “he” was “them”—a high school brother and sister duo. Their parents were hardcore vegetarians and not only banned all meat, but all junk food. Great kids, I loved their rebellion.

2. You Will Deliver Pizza to Your Friends and Enemies
If you value your social standing and you live in small town, don’t get in the pizza delivery game. Some of my most embarrassing moments on the job were when I unknowingly delivered orders to girls who I shared mutual resentment with. There’s no faster way to lose hand in a rivalry than to deliver a pizza to one of the “popular girls” that you swim in the same college circles with, then stand there just long enough to realize you will not be receiving a tip.

Another one of my Top 5 most embarrassing moments was when I knocked on the door, pizza in hand, wearing that ridiculous polyester shirt and visor, and the person who opened said door was the guy I had a crush on in my poli-sci class. He was all, “I… didn’t know you worked there.” It was the last time he spoke to me. I found out soon after that he got a massive tattoo of a purple dragon on his entire back. Thanks to pizza, I dodged a bullet.

3 It’s Really Easy to Get Extra Pizza
You can’t do it too many times, but if you call and complain about anything regarding your pizza (too cold, not enough cheese, too much cheese, etc.), you’ll get another pie, no matter what—the boss, my boss anyway—just let the customer keep the original pizza as well.

And if you work there, you’ll be swimming in pizza every day—I’m not saying it’s an official perk of the job, but just before my shift was over, I’d make a pie with everything on it and take it with me on my way home. I’d deliver it to my grandparents who lived in the same town. They were on a severely fixed income and they always appreciated the meal. I knew it wasn’t ethical to take the pizza, but I justified it by not reporting my managers to HR every time they harassed me or offered me alcohol on the job, which leads me to number 4…

4. If You’re a Pizza Delivery Girl, Your Male Bosses Will Hit On You
It happened every shift and it was sad—that is, I felt sorry for them. Here I was, all of 18 years old, fresh faced, and probably a little too nice for my own good (I had yet to develop a sixth sense for creepy guys). And every day like clockwork, I’d get hit on by my late-30s managers—one married with kids. It was no mistake that I was hired at this particular pizza place—my managers were notorious for exclusively hiring young delivery girls. The other delivery girl and I always shared similar war stories about handsy middle management.

5. You Will Get Stiffed on the Tip
And it will happen a lot. It used to amaze me when I’d deliver two pizzas for $19.55 and the person would wait with their palm out for their 45 cents. I never assumed the change was my tip, but I was always flabbergasted when the person completely stiffed me on the gratuity. The worst offender? The guy who ordered 12 pies on New Year’s Eve and didn’t tip on a $200-plus order. What I’m trying to say is TIP YOUR DRIVER. Pizza delivery folk rely on those tips, and this job does a real number on the car as far as wear and tear—lots of stop and go.

And while I’m making requests, answer the door promptly—don’t make your delivery person wait there, they have about five more pies to deliver in the next 15 minutes. Another thing: put your dogs in another room, it doesn’t matter how friendly they are. And finally… Guys: at the very least, wear either pants or shorts and a t-shirt. If you’re ordering cheap chain-restaurant pizza, chances are 100 percent that your delivery person does not want to see you topless.

Photo credit: Getty Images

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