The Diaries of a Gumby’s Delivery Guy
After a night out, there are only so many food options available, as much as we all wish Chipotle had hours more conducive to our drunk food schedule (every time I have to eat some late-night Taco Bell, my appreciation for Chipotle grows). If you’re already home, then your choices shrink again.
At that point you can either order a pizza or risk making something on your own, which drunk or sober seems like a last resort to me. Many people end up taking the easy route (pizza) and simply wait for it to appear outside their doors without putting much thought into how it gets to them.
We all know what it’s like to get pizza delivered: you order the pizza then spend the next forty minutes asking how much longer until the pizza arrives, but what is it like to be the person that carries the key to your happiness from the pizza restaurant to your home? I took one for the team and sacrificed my Saturday night to walk a mile in a pizza delivery guy’s shoes.
Dave Wisniewski, a Penn State senior and pizza delivery guy from Gumby’s, allowed me to ride along with him while he made his deliveries for the night. Although I was only with him for four hours out of his twelve-hour shift, I learned a thing or two about a normal night delivering pizzas.
Dave, who once won driver of the week at Gumby’s (a line he uses to pick up women), has been working there for almost two years now so he knows the ropes. Not only did Dave know the locations of all the dorms and apartment buildings around campus, which only took him two weeks to learn, but he also knew exactly how long each stoplight would be red.
Starting my night, Dave picked me up at 10 p.m., and on our way back to the home base (Gumby’s), he explained a little bit about a normal night on the job and warned me that there will be a big rush of orders around 2 a.m. when people return from the bars.
Each night he delivers close to 200 pizzas. The orders usually go to students that live on-campus or in an apartment or house close to campus, although he does occasionally deliver to families in residential neighborhoods. Despite being far away, a common perk to these destinations is a bigger tip.
That’s not to say that students are bad tippers though. Despite most of them being inebriated, the students’ ability to calculate a decent tip is not impaired. Whether it be by using some mental math (doubtful) or a tip calculator app on their phones, Dave said that the average tip was around $3 with the average bill being around $20.
On occasion he will get stiffed, but it’s not a very common occurrence. Among patrons, a common misconception is that the delivery fee goes straight to the driver, which is incorrect. This fallacy could be the source of the occasionally small or nonexistent tip. Either that or he keeps delivering to students hailing from countries that don’t tip.
As you would guess, Dave comes across some real characters in his job since most people are drunk when he delivers to them. Dave regaled me with his two weirdest stories as a delivery guy.
Once he was delivering pizza to an apartment downtown, and as he neared the apartment, he heard the distinct sound of the second greatest 90’s boy band playing: The Backstreet Boys (second of course to *NSYNC). He was expecting to find a bunch of girls walking down memory lane.
Boy was he surprised when he found three guys in boxers playing nutball — a game where players throw objects at each others’ crotches until somebody can’t take the pain anymore (you learn something new everyday…). Although they asked him to join their game, Dave declined.
In addition to being a delivery guy, he is a type of guy who knows when to take an opportunity to make a quick buck. For example, he once delivered to a couple that lived in dorms. Unfortunately this couple had a real dilemma on their hands. (Willard Preacher, cover your eyes.) They wanted to, how should I put this, get it in, but the couples’ roommates were both in their rooms.
Now unlike my old roommate, these folks didn’t want to sexile their roommates, so they paid Dave $20 to drive them around until they found a hotel with an open room. If you’ll believe it, they had to drive to three different hotels before they found one with a vacancy. Just because I know you’re all curious, they ended up at the Days Inn.
His taxi services are not limited to love-struck duos however. If you’re willing to pay, Dave is most likely willing to take you there.
Despite the safety of State College, there is definitely an occupational hazard associated with the job. Although this has never happened to him, there have been cases where drunk people will steal the pizza from the delivery car. Once an entire delivery car was stolen while the delivery guy was taking the pizza up to the apartment. Apparently alcohol makes some people thieves.
And the delivery car is his — Gumby’s doesn’t provide one — so it is imperative to keep his car in good condition. His car once broke down on a delivery, putting him out of commission until his car was fixed.
Next, just to keep it interesting, I also asked him some rapid-fire questions:
Onward State: What’s the best part about the job?
Dave: “The fact that you’re never in one place for too long.”
Onward State: What’s the worst part about the job?
Dave: “The hours.”
Onward State: Which stop light is your least favorite?
Dave: “The one by McLanahans.”
Onward State: What’s your favorite thing to order from Gumby’s?
Dave: “Probably the pepperoni rolls.”
Onward State: What’s your favorite place to deliver to?
Onward State: What’s the most common injury on the job?
Dave: “Burns from taking the pizzas out of the oven.” (Although I did see him get a paper cut that night that looked pretty rough.)
Onward State: Have you ever gotten a parking ticket?
Onward State: Are you a crust eater?
Even being with him for just four hours, I could see some of the challenges he faces while delivering. I know that I’m a pretty reckless walker, but the amount of jaywalking I saw that night put even me to shame.
Dave says that he has to remain alert while driving because there are drunk people everywhere that either don’t look before they cross the street or fall into the street (yikes). Take this second to recognize that you may or may not owe your life to the vigilance of a delivery person.
Although many people scoff at drunk food during the day, nothing can beat it at 2 a.m. coming back from a party. I did try a piece of pizza while there and thought that it was a pretty average piece of pizza (although I don’t claim to have a superior taste in pizza, which is apparently inherent in everybody from New York City).
Regardless of the taste, ordering a pizza at the end of the night is almost a necessity before you can start talking about how you were on the “struggle bus” the next morning. Next time you order one though, you may want to think back on this piece and possibly even take a drink to the guy who is delivering the key to your happiness.