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Monday, January 05, 2004

Special Delivery

I found this sort of amusing, for a variety of reasons, not least because I used to be a pizza delivery driver.

Apparently, there are more women ordering pizza than one would think, if the night of the Trista/Ryan wedding (watched willingly by almost no one with a Y chromosome) beat out the Super Bowl as a busy delivery night.

As a guy who had to answer phones a lot at pizza joints, I'd have to say I'd be pretty hesitant to take an order to deliver a pizza to someone ordering under the name "Paris Hilton." The idea of delivering to John Ashcroft is intriguing - and more believable since he does live on Capitol Hill, and, if Ashcroft were to order a pizza he might choose Domino's, given the association of the founder of Domino's Pizza with the religious right. John Ashcroft, however, just doesn't strike me as the pizza-ordering type for some reason.

I've noticed some patterns as to who tips and who doesn't, but I never noticed any pattern as to whether Republicans or Democrats tipped more. I'm sure this
has something to do with the fact that people in the Washington area making a bigger deal out of their political preferences since it's the town industry here. I did have a decent idea of which politicians were what back home, but I saw no correlation between who a customer supported politically and their tipping or ordering habits. (Not to mention that Worcester doesn't have many Republicans living there.) On the list of things that make me proud to be a Democrat, the fact that we apparently tip pizza delivery guys better is way, way down on the list.

Over the couple of years in the delivery business, I developed a set of random observations about when I was going to be tipped well and when I wasn't. Since this wasn't a controlled experiment, some of my observations should be taken with a grain of salt.

The tips got better later at night, particularly during the week.

On average, men tipped better than women, though not always. Groups of guys in the 25-45 age range were the best, particularly if they were drinking. Fantasy sports draft nights in particular always brought a great haul. (I miss live, face-to-face fantasy sports dratfs; there's really nothing else like attending one.)

Elderly customers frequently gave bad tips (though some of them were quite generous) and gave exact change far more often than any other group. My own personal theory was that some of them lived through the Depression, or were on fixed incomes and meticulously watched every penny. Even if their house, car, etc. hinted that they had money, sometimes they were still stingy.

Delivering to other teenagers sucked unless they too were working stiffs. Rich kids, especially girls, tended to be stingy. As with the elderly, sometimes you lucked out but usually you got shafted.

Generally, childless couples were marginally better tippers than those with children. The difference was not that large unless the kids were sent out to pay - that meant trouble, possibly because the kids didn't know about tipping servers or because the cheap-ass parents were hiding behind their clueless children.

Whites on average tipped much better than non-whites; whether that would have been true were I myself not white is an interesting question. The sample sizes for each individual ethnicity were kind of small, so it's hard to draw any group-specific conclusions from my experience. The general feeling in my workplaces were that delivering to an Asian or Hispanic household meant a lousy tip - even if the neighborhood in question was reasonably affluent; my own experience suggests that there is at least some foundation for such a belief, though it tended to be exaggerated. (None of the establishments I worked at served any of Worcester's truly impoverished/unsafe areas - I never delivered to, say, the Valley or Plumley Village or any part of Main South.) Anecdotally, I know a decent number of waiters and waitresses back in the Worcester area and most of them - including the servers that were themselves Hispanic - dreaded Hispanic customers. For what it's worth, I found no such pattern in the African-American community, and from personal experience, the stereotype of the "cheap Jew," at least in Worcester, lacks any foundation in reality. (Worcester, while not being a bad place to grow up or a bad place to live, has more than its share of inter-group tension - ethnic group vs. ethnic group, East side vs. West side, students vs. townies, etc.)

Unfortunately, I have exactly zero lurid stories to report from my career as a pizza delivery guy, the role of the pizza delivery guy in adult films of all stripes notwithstanding. No ribald tales of horny housewives, or for that matter, lonely gay men here. Sorry to disappoint. Hmm..maybe that's why you deliver a pizza to a girl who says she's Paris Hilton.


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