Americaphiles

The Story Of My Fucking Life

One-oh-five

Posted by ilbebe on April 4, 2012

“Making life-size models of the Velvet Underground in clay”

Expectations, man. They’ll ruin you if you don’t see them for what they are.

My expectations upon starting my pizza delivery job in April 2007 were pretty positive, especially when contrasted with the extreme acrimony I was feeling towards my prior employment . When I started at the pizza place, it had been three weeks since being canned from my law office file clerk job over complications (rage incidents) stemming from my difficulty in settling a state disability claim that concerned my recent 5150, an event which was directly tied to being worked to death. Pizza delivery, based on the impressions I’d gathered about it from both popular culture and a few people I knew who had done the job, seemed like just the trade to remedy my ill-will towards the world of gainful employment.

The few people I knew at the time who had plied the noble waters of pizza delivery had all been in Humboldt County; I am pleased to report that they upheld every stereotype you might harbor regarding both on-the-job weed usage and the amount of weed they received in tips. When I saw the delivery position advertised on Craigslist during the second week of my post-mental-breakdown job search, I stared at the listing for a minute before even clicking on it for more details. “Has it really come to this?” I asked myself, unsure what taking a job so traditionally maligned by “decent” members of society meant to my present state, or my future.  Then I thought of Laura, one of the drivers I knew back in Arcata. Upon  finding out that she was doing delivery, I had asked her how she liked it. “Oh man,” she said, a far-off expression crossing her face, “It’s……………great.”

“Great, huh? What makes it great”

“Well……….I get a lot of tips in weed. And I can smoke through my whole shift. And free pizza!”

Sold. A few days after seeing the posting, I was hired, and the hiring experience was delightfully similar to the last time I’d been hired at a pizza place:

Mike, the manager: So, Landon, was it? You want the job?

Me: Yes!

Mike: All right, when can you start?

Me: Well, whenever. I’m not working anywhere else.

Mike: Oh, that’s great! Most of our drivers have two jobs. How’s your availability?

Me: Wide open. I’ll take whatever.

Mike: Great. I think for the first while I’ll only be able to give you three or four shifts a week, but you’ll probably be able to get close to full-time hours- if you want them- within a month or so. There’s a few guys that might be leaving soon…

[Here he was referring to, as he said, a few different people, but mainly one guy, C, who had been, at the time I was hired, fired or quit and re-hired something like four times already. C was nuts, and kind of  a dick, but I deeply respected the maverick sensibilities he possessed that allowed him to so cavalierly walk away from some a killer gig. Just  a side note.]

Me: Yeah, whatever’s available is fine with me. I should tell you, though, I’ve never done delivery before. I mean, I’ve worked in a couple different pizza places, but I’ve never done delivery.

Mike: Ah, don’t worry, you’ll do fine. I mean, are you okay with math?

Me:  Sure, yeah.

Mike: You’ll do fine then. It’s…really easy. So anyway, can you start on Saturday?

[This was Thursday afternoon]

Me: Um…No, actually. I’m supposed to go out to my Mom’s that day for some family thing. It’ll probably just be an afternoon thing, but her house is way out in the burbs, like an hour away. Sorry.

Mike: Ah, don’t worry about it. You’re from around here then?

Me: Yeah, well, like the farthest eastern edge of the suburbs, but yeah, Bay Area.

Mike: Right on, I’m from Massachusetts.

Me: Oh, no shit? I lived in New Hampshire til I was ten.

Mike: Huh, no shit? Well, all right, could you come in on Monday afternoon for a short shift?

Me: Sure.

Mike: All right then. If you wanna come in before then to fill out the paperwork, feel free. If not, you can just do it on Monday.

I had an immediate warm feeling for Mass Mike. After drinking wine all Saturday afternoon at my Mom’s house and impressing her with my rapid acquisition of  a new job, I thought it would be a good idea to swing by the shop and take care of that paperwork.

Mike seemed really excited when he saw me walk in; apparently someone had called in sick and he thought I was there for a shift. He was duly disappointed when I begged off drunk, but this moment became another crucial element of my deep and profound admiration for Mass Mike: He doesn’t care that I’m drunk. He needs another driver. This guy takes care of biz. I like this guy.

I showed up to my first shift on Monday morning at eleven. Working with me that morning were Luis, the other manager; Gloria, the cook; and Jorge, the driver whose imminent transfer to another store was the reason for the vacancy I was filling. Luis showed me more about where things were around the shop while Gloria made the first order of the day. Right as Jorge left to take it, the phone rang, and another order came in. This was to be just about as pleasant of  a first order as I can imagine.

First, it was an address very close to the store. Needless to say, there is a premium on deliveries closer to the store since they take less time to make and thus cost the driver less in gas. Furthermore, on a busy night or any night where multiple drivers are working, the more quickly any delivery can be made results in a further benefit of potentially being back to the shop more frequently than other drivers, and winning the lion’s share of the deliveries. This is the cynical reality of the competitive nature of the job, but on that first day, I was an innocent, and my first delivery was sublime.

I pulled up to a house on Hillegass Street in Elmwood and parked in front of a nice old wooden house with a fairly large front yard. I walked through the gate just as an older woman walked around from the side yard. “Oh yay!” she called out, “Children! Pizza’s here!” This was followed by a delightful crowd of four or five kids running around from the side yard yelling “PIZZA!”

And I was tipped three bucks!

THEN, on my second fucking delivery, I went to the Dreyer’s Ice Cream corporate headquarters to bring some 9 to 5 shithead his lunch, and that asshole stiffed me. As with the arch differences between my prior file clerk gig and this new one, the contrast between the first two deliveries could not have been more striking. I hoped I would get one more delivery before my abbreviated training shift was over, just to get the bad taste of the khaki shithead out of my mind. I was not to be disappointed.

Upon returning to the shop, I parked in the back and watched as a black Town Car pulled in behind me. Intrigued, I took my sweet time getting out of my car so I could see whoever was going to get in or out of the incongruous luxury car. The driver hopped out, and ran around to open the rear passenger door. A man got out. It was Danny Glover.

I walked into the shop a little perplexed. My confusion over what I had witnessed in the parking lot proved to be very brief, as Jorge immediately called me over to where he was filling up dressing cups. “Hey, you see? Danny Glover?”

“Yeah, yeah I did! What’s that all about?”

“He has an office upstairs.”

“Huh.”

Jorge took the next order, and then I had my final run of the day to an address on San Pablo in Berkeley near the outer fringe of our delivery area. I pulled up outside of a strange lot that looked commercial that had foliage and ivy all over the parking lot. I was sorta startled halfway to the front door to be stopped by a security guard, who asked me what I was doing. This was merely the first of many stupefyingly obvious questions I would be asked during my tenure in the Solemn Brotherhood of Pizza Deliverymen. After explaining the intent of my visit to the premises he was guarding, he radioed to another security guard posted at the front door. Having gained clearance from the second, the first let me walk another ten feet up to the front door to wait while he called someone inside to let them know that their pizza had arrived.

All became illuminated a minute later when a dude wearing all black opened the door and released a lovely draft of weed smoke into my life. He was glad to see me.

“Hey man, whadda I owe ya?”

“(Whatever he owed me)”

“Right on.”

Somehow I was prompted to inform him that we also sold cookies, which he was thrilled to hear. My personal testimony regarding the cookie’s tastiness (“Oh, I had one an hour ago- SO GOOD!) made his red eyes wide. He tipped me three bucks, and wished me a great day.

When I got back to the shop, Jorge was about to leave on an order going straight back to the weed dispensary I had just come from with every cookie we had in the shop. Luis explained that the dude had called back almost immediately after talking to me.

“I ask him how many he wants, he says he wants thirty cookies. I tell him I don’t think we have that many, he says give me everything you have.”

May it suffice to say that the day ended on a high note.

-1:34AM 4/4/12, high, celebrating the two years anniversary of the Easter Emancipation…

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: