You want pizza. Of course you do—it's delicious and someone will drive it to you. You hardly have to do anything other than call the shop and give the pizza driver money. You don't even have to do that if you use a credit card and online ordering (which you shouldn't but I digress). In spite of the fact that this is a simple, straightforward process, nothing is foolproof for a sufficient fool. And having delivered pizza for several years, I encountered the most sufficient of them. Here are some pointers on how to order a pizza:

  • Have some clue of what you want or are doing prior to calling. Like so many things on this list, it seems obvious: why would you be ordering pizza if you don't know whether or not you want pizza? Good question. I have received far too many calls that start off like this:
    koavf: "Thank you for calling [pizza place], may I have your phone number please?"
    Idiot: "Yeah, it's, uh. Hold up. I just got this phone. I'mahavetacallyaback.
    *click
    Here's another greatest hit:
    koavf: "Thank you for calling [pizza place], may I have your phone number please?"
    Chowderhead: "(123) 867-53O9."
    koavf: "Okay, pick up or delivery?"
    Chowderhead: "I'm at the hotel."
    koavf: "…Maaaaaaaay I have your address please?"
    Chowderhead: "It's a hotel. Uh… I don't know the address. It's by the highway."
    koavf: "Do you know which hotel it is?"
    Chowderhead: "It's green. It's by the highway."
    koavf: "Can you tell me a nearby intersection?"
    Chowderhead: "No, I'm from Tulsa, I have no idea."
    koavf: "I'm going to need something more than that to deliver to you. Do you—"
    Chowderhead: "Forget it! We'll just order from somewhere else!"
    *click
    My least favorite:
    koavf:"Thank you for calling [pizza place], may I have your phone number please?"
    Moron: [screaming directly into my ear] "Hey now, y'all quite down, hyeah! I'm callin' [pizza place]!"
    koavf: "Thank you for calling [pizza place], may I have your phone number please?"
    Moron: "Yeah, is this [pizza place]?"
    koavf: "Yes, this is [pizza place], may I have your phone number please?"
    Moron: [screaming directly into my ear] "Hey! Wazzanumba hyeah?"
    Other Moron Heard Faintly Screaming in the Distance:"123."
    Moron: "123."
    Other Moron Heard Faintly Screaming in the Distance:"45."
    Moron: "45."
    Other Moron Heard Faintly Screaming in the Distance:"67."
    Moron: [screaming directly into my ear] "Six—what?!"
    Other Moron Heard Faintly Screaming in the Distance:"7."
    Moron: [screaming directly into my ear] "7?"
    Other Moron Heard Faintly Screaming in the Distance:"7."
    Moron: "7."
    koavf: "Okay, pick up or delivery?"
    Moron: "Delivery."
    koavf: "Address?"
    Moron: [screaming directly into my ear] "'Ey, whazza address hyeah?"
    Other Moron Heard Faintly Screaming in the Distance:"1234 Fake Street."
    Moron: "1234 Fake Street."
    koavf: "Okay, 1234—"
    Other Moron Heard Faintly Screaming in the Distance:"Springfield."
    Moron: "Springfield."
    koavf: "Yeah, we only deliver to Spr—"
    Other Moron Heard Faintly Screaming in the Distance:"East Virginia."
    Moron: "East Virginia."
    koavf: "Well, yeah, I figured you were in the same state as—"
    Other Moron Heard Faintly Screaming in the Distance:"ZIP code 01234."
    Moron: "01234."
    koavf: "…alright. So what can we get you?"
    Moron: [screaming directly into my ear] "Whaddaya wan'? Do y'all want breadsticks? Hey! Get Moron, Jr.—tell 'em I'm orderin' pizza!"
    Etc. for the next 17 minutes. Also, it's the middle of a Friday night and there are three phones on hold.
  • Please understand that whomever you are speaking to has virtually no power to change anything. The person who answers the phone at a pizza place is neither God, nor the President of the United States, nor even the fifth Beatle. This is someone who makes minimum wage and has absolutely no control over things like the cost of black olives or how much snow has fallen in the last 12 hours. Also, shouting and acting like a rabid dog will not in any way help you. No one wants to expedite things for a petulant child but tell that to this guy:
    koavf: "Thank you for calling [pizza place], may I—"
    Lunatic: "Yes, this is Mr. Lunatic."
    koavf: "Okay, may I have your phone number, please?"
    Lunatic: "I'm at 69 Juggalo Place."
    koavf: "I will have to try to find your ticket number… The system only lets us search by phone number… Let me—"
    Lunatic: "I had the pepperoni."
    koavf: "Yeah, I see 19 orders for pepperoni—we're very busy tonight. You said that you're on Juggalo Place? I think that I have it right here—"
    Lunatic: "I placed my order at 12:03:47 and it hasn't arrived yet."
    koavf: "Well, it's only been 17 minutes. Our standard delivery time is 30–45 minutes."
    Lunatic: "The person on the phone told me it would be here in 10 minutes.* I want half off." *(Note: this never happened.)
    koavf: "Alright, one moment please. I'll have to get my manager."
    *Puts the phone on hold. By the time the manager arrives, the customer has hung up the phone. His food arrived.
    A slight variation on the above:
    koavf: "Thank you for calling [pizza place], may I—"
    Grade-A Jerk: "I'd like to speak to a manager."
    koavf: "I'm the manager, how may I help you?"
    Grade-A Jerk: "Yeah, I ordered the pepperoni and there's no pepperoni on here* and I order from you guys all the time** and this is the fifth time this has happened in a week*** and I'm going to call my bank to have them cancel the charge****—" *(Note: this is not true.) **(Note: this is not true.) ***(Note: this is not true.) ****(Note: this is not true.)
    koavf: "Okay, I'm going to need your phone number to look up your—"
    Grade-A Jerk: "904957δyankeecharlie"
    koavf: "Can you repeat—"
    Grade-A Jerk: "98 and I also ordered breadsticks and your driver forgot them* and—" *(Note: this is not true.)
    koavf: "Okay, I'm having trouble finding—"
    Grade-A Jerk: "I would like your Regional Manager's number."
    koavf: "We don't have a Regional Manager; there are only two locations."
    Grade-A Jerk: "Well, I would like your corporate line then."
    koavf: "We don't have a corporate line; there are only two locations."
    Grade-A Jerk: "Then I would like the owner's number."
    koavf: "I can't give out the owner's personal number but there's an email address on your receipt—"
    Grade-A Jerk: "Well, I will be calling the news and the Health Department and the Attorney General's office and the Better Business Bureau first thing in the morning."
    koavf: "Is there anything else I can do for you?"
    Grade-A Jerk: "Eat a bag of rat poison."
    *click
  • Understand that we are fallible but we have also done this before a thousand times. We've got this. Let us do our thing. Everyone makes mistakes—even M. Night Shyamalan's first few movies weren't as good as The Last Airbender. Sometimes a customer will be apoplectic like the above examples but sometimes a customer will swing to the opposite extreme and be hyper enthusiastic about getting pizza:
    koavf: "Thank you for calling [pizza place], may I have your phone number please?"
    WORLD'S BIGGEST PIZZA FAN: "Two large Ultra Veggies, breadsticks with extra cheese, a Greek salad, and a 2-liter of Cola Soda. No, make it Diet Cola Soda—I'm on a diet." [grating laughter]
    koavf: "Okay, I'm going to need to know—"
    WORLD'S BIGGEST PIZZA FAN: "Actually, add on nine slices of cheesecake and another large Ultra Veggie and another Ultra Veggie and two more Greek salads."
    koavf: "Alright, I've got, I think, three pizzas and—"
    WORLD'S BIGGEST PIZZA FAN: "That'll be credit card. It's VISA. Number: 93049234823094823. Expiration date: Tuesday. The code on the back: 498. Blood type: B+. I'llbewaitingseeyousoon!"
    *click
  • We're not mind-readers. Even if you're a regular, we may not know what you want to order. If you work in a factory and your breaks are extremely regimented, then I need to know when you are available. If you are ordering for an apartment complex, please tell me your room number: that is part of your address. This should never happen:
    koavf: "Thank you for calling [pizza place], may I have your phone number please?"
    Tommy on Evergreen: "Hey, it's Tommy on Evergreen Terrace."
    koavf: "Oh, hi. May I have your phone number please?"
    Tommy on Evergreen, Who Is Getting the Usual: "Yeah, I'll just get my usual. Thanks."
    koavf: "Um. Alright. Could I just—"
    Tommy on Evergreen, Who Is Getting the Usual and Wants to Know If Ashlee Can Deliver It: "And can you have Ashlee deliver it? If she brings it, I'll give her a big tip." (Is this innuendo? I have no idea. Is Tommy a creep? Is he Ashlee's friend? Has he accidentally called the wrong pizza shop? Impossible to say.)
    koavf: "Well, I can't—"
    Tommy on Evergreen, Who Is Getting the Usual and Wants to Know If Ashlee Can Deliver It and Also Maybe Has Psychic Powers: "Oh, hey and koavf: Tell your mom that you love her, okay? Do it tonight."
    *click

If you manage to make it through these instructions and have placed an order, then you've made it farther than so many potential customers and irate sociopaths who are never happy unless they're furious. Congratulations. Now, please remember the following:

  • Come to the door when I knock and answer the phone if I call. This was your idea. I didn't just show up out of nowhere cold-calling with pizza door-to-door; you asked me to be here. Once I arrive, please be dressed (it's not like in the movies) and have your money ready. There is no reason why in the 50 minutes since you called you couldn't put on shorts and get a $20 bill out of your wallet. There is really no reason for some unwashed tumbleweed wearing a stained Korn t-shirt to answer the door and say, "Aw, Mike went to the gas station to get pop. He'll be back in a half-hour if you wanna wait." I do not want to wait, "bro".
  • If you can't afford a tip, you can't afford the food. I drive my own car which is old enough to vote and buy my own gas to take you this food. I put myself at risk by being out on the road. If I work at a corporate pizza place and there is a delivery charge, I do not get it. Or I get part of it but that's after my shop has taken the rest and then put it on my check where it is taxed and I don't get it for another two weeks. That "$3" rapidly turns into 63¢ for me. Have you ever noticed how no one has delivered pizza to you in a brand-new Lexus? That's because pizza delivery drivers are not rich. The next time a powder blue 1983 Ford Probe with driver's door jammed shut pulls up to your door and a grown man who just can't find a better job crawls out the window to give you dinner, please give him a tip. Here's my take on tips:
    • $5 and above: this is an excellent tip. This person is generous and probably understands that I don't make much money. He gets an A.
    • $3–4: this is a good tip. It's not great but it's better than average. If all customers left me tips like this, it would change my life. I wouldn't be able to summer in Vienna but I would be able to fix that creaking noise that gets louder every time I turn left. Solid B.
    • $2: this is a mediocre tip. It's what used to be a good tip in the 1990s. If you haven't noticed, back then, gas cost $1.15 a gallon and the United States was in the middle of a huge economic boom. The federal government even had a surplus under Bill Clinton. A surplus. Let that sink in for a minute. C.
    • $1: this is offensive. Caveat: Some customers are very poor and cannot afford more than this but they are trying. I respect these customers and I appreciate that they want to show me some love. I am also poor, so I understand. Other customers are ancient and remember when $1 was a generous tip. To everyone else: you are a terrible person. This is the "tip" of someone who knows somewhere in the back of his head that he's supposed to tip but if he can technically do what he's supposed to do with a minimal amount of sacrifice, then he can feel self-righteous and be frugal. It's the slacktivist hashtagging of tipping. #StopKony2012 #StopCrappyTipsNow. D for Dingus.
    • Change: this is not a tip at all. If your food is $11.97 and you hand me $12 and say, "That's all you, man." then there is a warm place in Hell for you. You get an F and if you do this to the wrong pizza delivery guy, you will also get someone setting your car on fire while you sleep.
  • Please be a decent person. Note that I'm not even asking you to be particularly nice, just basically civil. If your food is late, I am probably just as put out by it as you are: I know that I'm not making any tips and there are probably some exigent circumstances that are making it so that I'm not making any tips tonight. If it's raining, then I am drenched and my car is careening around a bunch of teenagers who got their licenses yesterday but are going to a huge rager at Chelsea's at 50 miles per hour. If it's New Year's Eve, then we are swamped and I'm dodging drunken jackasses and I don't even want to be here but I have no life, so I'm bringing a bunch of happy party-goers food while I sit alone and sing along to "The Boys of Summer" by Don Henley through the static-y radio because that's the only station that I can get since some kids snapped off my antenna on delivery a month ago.
  • I do not want to be your friend. This is the corollary to the above advice. I'm sure you're a nice guy, honestly* but I am in a business where time is quite literally money and I have 12 pizzas getting colder by the second, so I will have to talk about your theory on how immigrants make the chemtrails that are giving us all nut cancer later. It's certainly better to be excessively nice than excessively mean and God knows I have had a lot more angry goblins complaining that "this doesn't look like extra mushrooms!" than I have potential besties who just want to chill to Dark Side of the Moon but both are inappropriate. I have had customers offer to give me alcohol and recreational drugs (I can't, I'm driving), hang out in their garages and listen to music for awhile (I can't, I have to get back to the shop), and to engage in casual sex acts (I have your number and address, I'll be back three minutes after we close). There's sometimes a fine line between being friendly and being friends but there's a reason why my phone number comes up as restricted when I call you.
    *(Note: this is not true.)

If you can abide by these reasonable guidelines, then ordering pizza can be a safe, fun, and rewarding activity. On the other hand, pizza is bad for you and overpriced, so maybe you should just make some soup.

See also: So you've decided to deliver pizza…

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