Summer of Pizza

Summer is over and autumn has begun in all but official media release. The trees out behind our place are starting to turn yellow and, for a few leaves, deep red. It's time to look back on the past summer and think about everything I did.

For starters, summer 2014 was an event-filled one for me. A year ago we drove across Canada from British Columbia (stopping over in Edmonton for the summer), and yet that seems more like a footnote to an otherwise interesting life. This summer, on the hand, was marked by the fact that I stayed in one place, yet it is a memorable summer for me.

First, I expanded my business from 1 student in April to 11 students by August, both online and in my "Learning Lounge" classroom. While this 1000% growth in 4 months is exceptional, it came with costs. Website upgrades, facility rentals, data and internet bills, CSM, accounting software and, of course, advertising all took a bite out of what I was earning. So, to help make ends meet and provide me with some personal cash, I started delivering pizzas on the side.

Pizza delivery is simply epic. Seriously. It is fast-paced and exhausting, yet the cash can be exceptionally good and I was given quite a bit of freedom during my shifts. It did take a physical toll on my and my car, but at least it provided me with some seriously fun memories.

I was working for a company I cannot name due to confidentiality agreements I signed, but let's just call them "Dom's" or "Minoes". I was considered a sub-contractor and was told that I was renting a service to the store and would thus need to claim my own taxes, etc and would not be listed as an employee. The deal was that I would submit my availability to the store manager and he would schedule around that (as it turns out, I had to be very specific because if I left a single second open, I was scheduled).

Payments were simple: I kept all the cash and debit/credit receipts from the customers I delivered to, and at the end of the shift the store billed me for all the pizzas I had delivered (or "bought"). A $1-per-delivery charge and $5 per hour were subtracted from that amount, and I paid the difference and kept what was left. Basically it came out to $5-an-hour + $1 per delivery + tips. Some nights I walked away with less than minimum wage, while other days I averaged $22 an hour!

I learned Guelph really well during the summer, finding all the back streets, exploring the new subdivision sprawl along the east and south ends and meeting tons of really nice people. I only had one dickhead and he was drunk. Other than that people are incredibly kind to the pizza guy!

All summer long I cruised about with a "Ominoes" sign magnetically stuck to the roof of my car, listening to music and munching on pizzas. The late-night weekend shifts were the best. Getting an order downtown at 1 am on a Saturday night was an adventure. Hordes of University students were stumbling and puking and fighting and hootin' and hollerin' all over the place. Drunk chicks in slutty outfits would try to get rides, while drunk guys would holler "Ominoes! Yeeaaah!" when I drove by. There were a lot of fist bumbs at red lights with happy drunks. Kinda made me feel like a local hero.

I remember one  night I got a delivery order for a house on Cityview Drive. This house was tucked back at the end of a new subdivision, but it was the only old house there, part of an original 19th Century farm that was once there. It dominated the top of a high hill from which almost all of Guelph could be seen. The night lights twinkled, the Church of Our Lady was lit up several kilometers away, car headlights went to and fro. Pretty awesome.

So this guy I was delivering too was surprised how fast the pizza arrived ('Ominoes bases it's service around speed of delivery). "Oh, umm, my wife is paying for it but she's not home yet." he told me, embarrassed. "Do you want to come back in about five minutes?"
"Sure, no problem." I told him.
So I returned to my car and pulled up a couple of feet to the end of CityView Drive and watched the lights of summertime Guelph. I was listening to 91.5 "The Beat" out of Kitchener, which plays new trance and house music every Saturday night, and the Arty remix of the London Grammar song "Hey Now" came on, adding the perfect soundtrack for this beautiful night view. I stayed there for the entire song and then made my way back to the guy's house and delivered the pizza.

Pizza delivery was fun, although the long shifts (I averaged 36 hours per weekend), the ridiculous price of gas and the wear and tear on the car was making it not worth it. In August, the height of the slow season for all pizza places (they clean up in autumn and winter), I was told that my services weren't required until September. I said goodbye, ate my last piece of pizza fresh out of the oven, and went home to find a new job.

Delivering pizza was fun and interesting and had a lot of potential to make serious cash. Some nights I would come home and count out $400, from a single 12-hour shift! Other times, after gas was counted in, I was lucky to break seventy-five bucks. Still, the memories are sweet and the music was fine and the pizza was delicious. I don't think I would ever do it again, but at least I learned that for myself.

Thanks to pizza, I will always remember the summer of 2014!


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