Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Schooled by the Workplace, v.1

Hello, and welcome to my new blog series, "Schooled by the Workplace: Lessons your formal education COULD NOT teach you." A few weeks ago, I asked for suggestions for the blog, and this one came from my bff Maggie.

image stolen from facebook.
Her idea: talk about things you learned from a job that you could not have learned in a formal educational setting. If you are like me, you may have stories from countless dead-end jobs. Or, maybe you have a career-type job and you've been shocked to piece together things you're pretty sure no professor ever mentioned in class. OR, maybe you're proving to the world that you can make it professionally in a field other than the one you studied in school or without a college education altogether. Whatever the case, I am looking for your contributions! Maggie's already promised to share some educational stories from her days at the illustrious sandwich shop, Gandolfo's.

I will be the first to share.

Rewind: It's summer of 2004, and I've just finished my freshman year of college. I'm looking a little chunky (hello, freshman 15 20!), and so my summer revolves around working two jobs and going to the gym. Without further ado, here some of the poignant lessons I learned during my summer as a Pizza Hut Delivery person.

1. Sometimes it takes a village to deliver a pizza. This is true. The worst day of work I can remember (and this is 8 years later) happened while working at Pizza Hut. Bear in mind, I had this job before I had a cell phone and before I knew what a GPS was. I had a phone book in the passenger seat and I would flip open to the maps when I didn't know where something was. So one day, somebody mis-entered an address for a delivery. Nowadays, you would hop in your car, punch the address into your GPS, and realize that you had been given an incorrect address. But back then, I just hopped in my car and headed off to find this nonexistent place. I ended up in a parking lot between Two Rivers' Convention Center and a pawn shop. Ummmm...

So I meandered into the giant convention center first. There happened to be a couple of people in there (I think there was a boat show going on later that day). "Oh, hi," I say, noting their helpful but blank faces. "Did you order a pizza?"

"No. . ." they say. "Did someone from the Convention Center order it?"

"No," I say. "I just have this address. . ." and I show them the address. They aren't sure what to tell me. So I head back out to the parking lot. Suddenly, a sinking feeling hits me as I realize I have locked my keys in the car. In addition to the keys, I have locked two other orders of pizza in the car as well. I'm really not sure what to do at this point, with no phone, no car, a phony address, and a couple of pizzas slung over my shoulder. So I head towards the pawn shop, feeling like a dork because at this point I'm doubtful the pawn shop ordered a pizza.

"Hey. . .did you order a pizza?" I say.

"No, what address do you have?" The guy offers to let me use his phone, and I call my parents to tell them I'm locked out of the car. Just as I'm asking them to come rescue me with the spare key, the pawn shop owner overhears me and says, "I've got some locksmith equipment--let me see if I can get your car unlocked for you." (A little shady, but okay! I feel relieved! I tell my parents not to come.)

Alas, twenty minutes later, pawn shop guy is still tinkering around with my car (NOT the time to be trying out your new locksmith tricks, pal!). My anxiety has risen to an all-time high. My dad stops by on his way back to work from lunch, on a whim, just to make sure I'm okay. "Oh hey, Dad. Yeah, looks like he can't get the car open after all. Do you have the key?"

The spare key is lost. No one at the house can find it. Cruuuuuuud. But there is a stroke of luck, and a few minutes later my mom calls to say she found the key. She leaves the house to bring the key (15 minutes away). Meanwhile, I call my boss. At this point, two of the three orders have called in. One has canceled, and the other has asked for a refund or discount. My boss gives me the correct address (a few blocks away from the convention center) and kindly tells me she's just relieved I'm not in an accident or something.

So my Dad and I decide he will drive me to deliver the pizzas in my hand to the correct address, since we are waiting for my mom to arrive with the spare key to my car. I am an emotional basket-case. All this waiting, calling, walking around feeling dumb and helpless--it's really gotten to me. And now, to add to my pathetic-ness, I am a passenger in my dad's car, with the pile of pizzas in my lap, sweaty from too much time out in the sun by the pawn shop. We drive to the first house, and some sort of meeting is being disbanded just as pathetic little, tear-stained me walks towards the house with the pizza. One woman waves me off, saying, "Oh, we just called to cancel the order. Our meeting's over." I hang my head in shame and walk back to the car.

We drive the few blocks back to the convention center and meet my mom there. I've got the key to the car, and one more order to deliver, but I am completely beaten down and I look terrible. I drive over to the other address, a good 10 or 15 minutes away, and walk into a little shop whose owner has ordered a pizza. Without looking at me, she snaps, "Do you realize how late you are? I cannot believe you guys aren't giving me a discount!" (Which, looking back--why weren't we? Wow.) Then, she looked up and we made eye contact. I knew I looked pathetic. She softened. Then she said, sympathetically, "It must be hard." I nodded, and sniffled, humiliated and avoiding all speech as I knew it would induce more crying. As soon as she handed me the check I ducked out of there as fast as I could.

As I was pulling out, a small boy (presumably the woman's son) came running out to the car, yelling for me to wait. When I rolled down the window he said, "We've got more monies for you!" I realized they were trying to give me a tip, probably because they felt bad for me. Drowning in self-pity and martyrdom, I shook my head and waved him away. "I can't take it," I said. Which sums up Lesson #2, Crying is a Good Way to Get What You Want. (Too bad I didn't just take the money. Come on.)

Stay tuned for Lesson 3 (Communication: Just Do It) and Lesson 4 (Watch Out for Policemen on Bikes).

Send your submissions here! I am just dying to hear what pearls of wisdom you've got.


  1. Oh nooooooooooooo that is so terrible!! I'm glad you learned some stuff though I'm not sure it was worth it :P

  2. HAH! That is really the worst story ever. Nothing could have gone more wrong. You know, you could have just sat at the pawn shop and eaten the pizzas yourself.


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