Top Secrets of Pizza Delivery Drivers

There’s a certain mystique surrounding pizza delivery drivers. Any fifteen-year old girl at a slumber party gets excited when the pizza delivery driver knocks on the door, hoping he’s a cute one. Even as grown-ups, that fascination with the pizza delivery driver never completely disappears. They slip in and out of your life so quickly, you can’t help but wonder who the person underneath the visor really is. From a five-year pizza industry veteran, here are some of pizza delivery drivers’ top secrets.

Pizza Delivery Driver Secret #1: It’s a boys’ club.

More and more women are becoming pizza delivery drivers, but it’s still a male-dominated field. Many customers still express surprise at opening the door to a woman holding their pizza. For a woman to be a pizza delivery driver, she’s got to learn to put up with some serious guy-talk at the shop. When that many dudes get together, it’s often disconcerting to hear how they really talk when it’s just the “boys.” Any woman who becomes a pizza delivery driver will still be expected to lift heavy things and do the really gross cleaning, because most pizza shops have an ingrained system that assumes women make the pizza and men deliver it. While shop tasks are assigned based upon position, it’s implied that tasks are assigned by gender stereotype as well.

Pizza Delivery Driver Secret #2: They get robbed, even in “nice” neighborhoods.

Your pizza delivery driver puts himself or herself in danger every time s/he leaves the store. Imagine knocking on strangers’ doors at 2:00 a.m. with hot food and a pocket full of money, and imagine doing it over and over again, night after night. You can see how and why pizza delivery drivers are often subjected to set-ups and muggings. While the likelihood of getting robbed varies from delivery area to delivery area (and has a little to do with the driver’s physical makeup and street smarts), no pizza delivery driver ever feels safe 100% of the time.

Pizza Delivery Driver Secret #3: They know the dirt on all the local rental properties.

Not only do pizza delivery drivers get robbed, they often bear witness to a lot of local filth, crime, and poverty. Even the nicest delivery area has its dreaded spots. If you’re in the market for a new apartment (or even a new house), ask a pizza delivery driver friend for the dirt on the place before you sign the lease.

Because pizza delivery drivers go into so many apartment complexes and knock on so many doors, they’ve literally seen the insides of every place in the neighborhood. A pizza delivery driver can tell you where domestic violence occurs, where people are most likely to get mugged, what apartments double as crack houses, and what buildings have cockroaches. They can also tell you whether your potential neighbors are likely to party all night during the week or if they’re fairly quiet people.

Pizza Delivery Driver Secret #4: They do more drugs than your mom in the sixties.

Now I’ve met a few pizza delivery drivers who’ve managed to stay on the straight and narrow, so I don’t want to claim that every pizza delivery driver does drugs. But there’s something about the repetitive nature of the job, the long hours, and the availability that makes drugs and pizza delivery seem to go hand in hand.

As a non-drug user, it took me awhile to adjust to this particular aspect of pizza delivery. I’ve seen just about every form of illegal and legal drug ingested during my days as a pizza delivery driver. Drugs flow freely through the back rooms of pizza shops, and many pizza delivery drivers double as dealers to their friends. The pizza that arrives at your door may have been made by someone on cocaine, taken out of the oven by someone on prescription pain pills, and delivered by someone who smoked pot on the way to your house.

Pizza Delivery Driver Secret #5: Anything less than a dollar is a stiff.

If your order total comes to $9.12, and you hand your pizza delivery driver a ten with a kindly, “Keep the change,” you have not tipped your driver. Pizza delivery drivers are a temperamental bunch who depend on tips to survive, so anything less than a dollar is an insult, despite your best intentions.

Conversely, if you are known as a good tipper (2-3 dollars in my old neighborhoods, but varies regionally), your pizza delivery driver will treat you well. This means that your pizza delivery driver will not run errands or stop at home to take a dump on the way to your house. Your pizza will not arrive with the cheese all mushed to one side. If you are a very good tipper (3+ dollars), your driver will be more than happy to pick up beer or cigarettes at the convenience store on the way to your house if you ask nicely. Should your driver do this for you, be sure to tip an extra couple of dollars. Time is literally money to pizza delivery drivers, and they have memories like elephants.

Pizza Delivery Driver Secret #6: There are the college kids, and there are the lifers.

Pizza delivery drivers get into the business for one reason: it’s a way to make money (and instant cash, at that) very quickly. At many pizza shops, you’ll notice a distinct difference between the people who are just passing through and the people who never left. It’s only a short walk across the line, though, and many once-ambitious college kids get addicted to the instant gratification lifestyle that goes along with being a pizza delivery driver. The late hours and the habits pizza delivery drivers acquire often keeps them delivering pizza long after they thought the rest of their lives would begin. On the other hand, some pizza delivery drivers are able to do the job for a few months or even a few years before moving on to greener pastures.

Pizza Delivery Driver Secret #7: Pizza delivery drivers do a lot more than just bring your food.

Your pizza delivery driver has a variety of other tasks that directly affect the cleanliness, price, and quality of your food. It pays to be nice to them when you consider that a pizza delivery driver may have taken your order and applied (or chose not to apply) coupons. In addition, pizza delivery drivers (depending on the store) may be responsible for helping to prepare your order, washing the dishes, wiping the preparation tables, keeping pans or utensils clean throughout the night, and an assortment of other tasks. Should you make a special request for something like extra napkins or seventeen forks, your pizza delivery driver might be responsible for fulfilling that request. It pays to be nice to them in more ways than one.

Pizza Delivery Driver Secret #8: Delivering pizza does terrible things to your social life.

It’s hard to have a normal-feeling life when you drive around the same three square miles all night, especially if the pizza shop is open until the wee hours of the morning. Making friends who aren’t night people, going to restaurants that aren’t 24-hour diners, and dating can seem like insurmountable tasks when you work a shift that isn’t quite afternoons or midnights.

As a result, pizza delivery drivers often form a tightly-knit group and depend on each other for things like birthday presents and moving buddies. If you piss off one pizza delivery driver, chances are the whole store will know about it very quickly and all the drivers from that store will treat you poorly in the future.

Pizza Delivery Driver Secret #9: Once a pizza delivery driver, always a pizza delivery driver.

An experienced pizza delivery driver will always have a job, because it’s one of those things that no one really wants to do and takes awhile to learn. Once you know the neighborhood, you’re hireable by any store in the delivery area. It’s not unusual for pizza delivery drivers to know the wages, mileage payouts, business volume, and tip average for all the nearby shops. Pizza delivery drivers don’t keep their jobs at a particular store because they’re loyal to management or like their jobs; they stay where it’s profitable.

There’s something unexplainable, too, about how being a pizza delivery driver stays with you long after you’ve quit the job. It toughens your skin and changes the way you look at other vehicles on the road. Not only that, but after you’ve lived the life of a pizza delivery driver, any job you have afterward feels kind of cushy.

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