January 15, 2016 by T. Gregory Argall
I like pizza.
Perhaps more than I should.
In our house, pizza is the go-to when the mood to cook is absent. My wife is brilliantly creative with meals, but when I make dinner I make a phone call.
Maria, the owner/manager/woman-who-knows-what-she’s-doing at our local pizza place recognizes my phone number on the call display. (I don’t know if her name actually is Maria; I just arbitrarily decided to call her that. Maria Pizzeria. It might be her name. You don’t know for sure that it’s not.) When I call and Maria answers, the conversation lasts 3-5 seconds.
“Hallo, the usual?”
“Hokay, it’s on the way.”
I try to tip well, also. The pizza always arrives quickly and the drivers are friendly people. After tax my bill is $28.25. I don’t like fiddling about with coins when I’m holding two pizzas and a bag of pop bottles, dipping sauces, etc., while propping the door open with my foot, so I just round up to the nearest amount of dollar bills. I give the driver thirty-five bucks and the deal is done. (I’m not bragging about my tipping prowess; I’m just saying that the math will be relevant to the story soon.)
Sometimes Maria doesn’t answer the phone. She has other staff and it’s only fair to let them justify their existence by actually working while they’re at work. So sometimes someone else will answer when I call and they don’t immediately recognize my number on the call display with the instant and total recall of a budding pizza mogul. After all, they’re only human. So I have to go through the process of actually speaking my order out loud like a normal person.
Such was the case a while ago, when I spoke with a young gentleman who diligently read my order back to me to make sure everything was correct, then advised me that the cost was $24.99.
After I had hung up the phone, the price difference registered in my fuzzy brain and I concluded that I had lucked in to some short term special offer that provided my particular combination of ordered items for a slightly lower price. I was pleased with this idea, but decided to check the bill when the food arrived, just to be certain.
When the pizza arrived, the young man delivering our dinner was not one that I recognized from previous pizza nights, but he was as cheerful and friendly as the others. He loaded me up with pizza and pop and dipping sauces and et ceteras, and laid the bill on top of the pizza box for me to see. I looked at the bottom of the slip and the price listed was, indeed, $24.99 so I gave him thirty dollars. Still a reasonable good tip and I didn’t have to mess around with coins.
I took the pizzas to the kitchen, put them on the counter, and got some plates to serve the meal that I had so efficiently prepared for my family using only my culinary skill with a telephone. It was at that point that I noticed that the bill was actually folded in half and what I had assumed was the number at the bottom was, in fact, the number in the middle, the sub-total. Further down the slip of paper, below the fold, was the actual total, $28.25.
The kid on the phone and the driver had both inadvertently given my the pre-tax price. It’s a forgivable rookie mistake for someone on their first day on the job. Unfortunately, one guy’s error appeared to validate the other guy’s error and the end result is that I gave him a 6% tip while thinking I was doing 20%.
So I felt like an asshole.
Since then, every time I order pizza, I’ve been watching for the same driver to return so that I can apologize and give him another five dollars, the tip he should have received. So, far no luck. It’s been a couple of months now.
I assume that either he quit his job later that night because the tips were so meager or he just refuses to deliver to my house again because he thinks I’m a cheap bastard who favours the other drivers but snubs him for no reason.
Either way, it’s a shadow on my soul that diminishes my enjoyment of the pizza.
So, although it pains me to do so, I will continue to order pizza at every opportunity, in the hope that someday this same driver will again return to my life and absolve me of my tipping sin.
Try to be nice to each other.