It”s Friday night between “Early” and “Time for the Bar.” I stop at a pizza place (which will remain anonymous) on my way to my car. I order some pizza and a Coke and ask for the manager. I introduce myself as a writer for the Daily and tell the manager my editor wants a story based on a drive along with the pizza delivery guy.
“I”d like to help you, man, but that”s against the Health Code and our business insurance,” says the manager.
I take a bite of my slice and a sip from my Coke, and I think this one through. I can see the manager”s point. A reporter, i.e., not an employee, rides along in the delivery truck with the delivery guy. Delivery guy gets in an accident. Reporter gets hurt, sues.
“What if I sign a waiver?”
It”s the manager”s turn to think this one through. “What if the Health Department gives us a surprise inspection?”
I hadn”t thought about that. I take another bite of my slice. “What if you don”t know about it?”
Hey, this gets him. I can see the wheels turning. “Come back after 10 and ask for Matt.” I thank the manager and walk to my car, finishing my slice and Coke.
At the appointed time, I”m back at the pizza establishment, and I ask for Matt. I”m told Matt”s on a run but he”s expecting me. I spend the time waiting for Matt by watching the other employees. There are four manning the store. One employee is always on the phone. The other three are constantly making pizzas, tossing crust, spreading sauce and toppings pies in and out of the four ovens.
After 15 minutes, a delivery guy comes in from the back, but it”s not Matt. This delivery guy grabs a stack of eight pizzas and four two-liter bottles of Coke, and he”s back out the door. Mike comes in a few minutes later.
We introduce ourselves, and then we”re quickly off. Matt has his own stack of eight pizzas, but no Cokes. I find out later he hates delivering Cokes. We go out through the back and pile into the delivery guy”s Ford Ranger. The Ranger is stripped down to no extras not even a radio and the cab is tiny. I have to ride in the passenger seat with the eight pizzas on my lap.
I ask Matt a few personal questions. He freely answers. He”s 24, single, has been a delivery guy for six years and has worked all over town. He”s an Ann Arbor native and an aspiring musician. A large, cut man, he also works part time as a bouncer at a local bar.
Matt”s first delivery is two larges on Hill near Forest. The order is $15.75. He”s tipped $1.25. That”s typical the change plus a buck is the standard tip for a usual order and what the delivery guy expects. I ask Matt how often he gets stiffed. “All the time,” he says. “Probably every fourth or fifth delivery. But it goes in streaks. Some Fridays I never get stiffed and I”ll make $200 to $250. Some Mondays I only make $20.”
This run of eight pizzas is a good one. It takes only 25 minutes, and he pockets $15.
The second run is only two orders, but it”s 12 pizzas. Good and bad news the fraternities and sororities have started ordering. Matt explains, “The usual tip is the change plus a buck. Unfortunately, that”s true if you order one pizza or 10. That”s the bad news about the frats and sororities. Big orders, small tips.”
“So what”s the good news?”
“Most sorority trips are good for some tits. There”s always a little boob, sometimes more than a little, sometimes a little butt cheek.”
“And the frats?” I ask.
“Weed,” he replied.
“Interesting fringe benefits.”
Three hours later it”s “Getting Home From the Bar” time, the dreaded time for the delivery guy drunk drivers, drunken pizza orders. Drunk callers never tip. Drunk drivers, of course, kill.
I ask Matt if anyone”s ever thrown up on him. No.
Any incidents with drunk drivers? Not really, but he sees them every Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
“What about driving in general in Ann Arbor. Doesn”t it suck?”
“Does it? I grew up here. I don”t know anything different.”
Matt is done for the night. The final count is $175 in tips, four partial boob sightings, three bong hits and one beer. A typical Friday night.
I ask Matt if there”s anything he wants to say to the readers of the Daily pizza consumers one and all. He thought about it for a few moments.
“Yes,” he says. “Think twice the next time you”re about to be rude to the pizza guy. Remember, we make you your food. Pepperoni has been known to get wiped through “No Man”s Land”.”
“No Man”s Land?”
“You”re a writer. Use your imagination.
Editor”s Note: The names and places have been changed to
protect those involved.