I know I think about the tantalizing smell and taste of warm, crusty goodness with creamy cheese perfectly melted over tasty tomato sauce, topped off with fresh meats or veggies.
Now that you’re hungry, let’s talk about the people who bring you that pizza — the delivery drivers.
Whenever I see pizza delivery drivers pull into my driveway, I get excited. But I never thought about the work that goes into their job.
I recently spent some time working at East of Chicago, 56 Stower Lane, learning what’s involved with being a delivery driver.
To begin my “shift,” I put on my “Pizza Done Right” T-shirt and received a tour and brief orientation from owner Ken Pittenger.
I rode along with driver Stuart Green, who’s been working at East of Chicago for almost a year. Green delivered pizzas for another business for 10 years before starting here.
He said the smell and taste of pizza never gets old, and I agree.
Green encourages people to enjoy their work, whatever it is.
“I always believe in having fun. You’ve gotta enjoy life,” Green said.
Green's wife Jean also works at East of Chicago, but as a manager. The two have other jobs as well, but Green said he enjoys staying busy.
We got our first delivery orders right away. The pizzas are made in the kitchen and placed in boxes, which are put in the delivery bags. We picked up the bag and looked at the receipt. The drivers are responsible for adding salads or drinks.
We were taking an order to a motel, so we added paper plates, cups, silverware and napkins.
For the first run, we took two deliveries. At the first door, the customer greeted us on the porch and was friendly and polite.
Pizza delivery drivers don’t just represent themselves; they also represent the business they work for, so the way they treat customers is important.
Throughout the shift, we did not have any rude or negative customers, as I expected we might. I’m sure there are plenty of complainers in this line of work, as there are in most jobs, but I did not encounter any.
Speaking of customers, some tip generously while others don’t even leave a tip.
The amount of cash vs. credit card orders seems to be split evenly.
Green stayed organized. Before and after each delivery, he checked in and out on a computer in the kitchen. In his vehicle, he had a notepad that he used to keep track of tips, miles and type of payment. He filled out this information at each address.
Most of our deliveries were in Milan, but that wasn’t too far of a drive. East of Chicago delivers within a 10-mile-radius.
As someone who can get lost easily, I would need to use a GPS for most of the addresses, but Green did a good job finding each house without assistance.
Pizza delivery drivers get to know the area pretty well.
Every time we got back in the vehicle, I could smell the delicious aroma of pizza. Then, when we returned to the restaurant, it was even stronger. Throughout my shift, I became hungrier and hungrier.
When not making deliveries, drivers take orders on the phone, do dishes, oil pans and fold boxes for the next day.
Most staff members had smiles on their faces while they were working and they made me feel like part of the team.
Pittenger is a very involved owner. Green said Pittenger works there every day and takes pride in his business, as he should.
Norwalk’s East of Chicago has been in Pittenger’s hands for 19 years.
My time delivering pizzas was a lot of fun, although it was a challenge to resist ordering pizza afterward.
It’s nice to know these delivery drivers are hardworking and will come to our homes, rain or shine, to fulfill our pizza desires.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The “Mad about…” series involves day-in-the-life stories about local workers. Reflector Correspondent Madeline Roche spends time doing their jobs and then tells readers what it's like. If you would like your business to be featured, call 419-668-3771 or email [email protected]
Position: Pizza delivery driver
Qualifications: Must be 18 and older and have an insured vehicle. Must not have more than two moving violations in the previous three years or any OVI (operating a vehicle while impaired) convictions
Pay range: Minimum wage ($8.55), in addition to $1.50 per delivery and tips