Every week, Pizza Girl (Diary of a Pizza Girl) stops by with insights and a behind-the-scenes look into the world of pizza-delivery drivers. Take it away, PG! —AK

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I am lucky enough to never have been involved in a robbery, but I'm acutely aware of the vulnerable position I put myself in every time I go to a stranger's house.

Not only am I guaranteed to have cash and food, but I have very little way of knowing if I'm getting into a bad situation beforehand (most robberies are setups), and even when I get there it's a tough trade-off between safety and time (when I'm out on four deliveries, every minute I spend doing something other than driving or transacting on the earlier deliveries makes that last delivery more and more likely to be late).

  • Do I go up to the house that has a car in the street but no lights on? (Or do I call them and make them turn a light on to prove someone's home?)
  • Do I approach the man sitting on the porch? (Or do I call to make sure that I'm at the right house and ask him to go inside to prove he belongs there?)
  • Do I go through the shrubs that cut off my view of my car? (Or do I call and ask them to come pick up their pizza in the driveway?)
  • If it's cold and rainy, do I step inside the door? (Or do I politely decline and continue freezing my butt off and soaking their entryway?)

The easy answer is no (and with the last one it is the ONLY answer), nothing is worth giving up my safety, but at the same time I wouldn't have a job if I was afraid to go to strangers' houses.

Every time I run up against a situation I'm uncomfortable in, I ask myself, "What if they don't answer the phone? Is the situation bad enough to warrant calling my manager to refuse the delivery? Is it bad enough that he'll be OK with giving those people free pizza when they call back mad that the pizza never got there?"

I've only felt truly in danger three times:

  • The first, I was delivering to a mobile home out in the country and a man was standing in the driveway smoking a cigarette. He followed me up to the door and stood on the stairway while I completed the transaction with a woman at the door. I had my pepper spray ready underneath the hot-bag because I do not like being penned in. Chances are that he didn't even realize he was penning me in, but I was still running through escape scenarios in my head.
  • The second was when I walked into a domestic dispute. It sounded like it was going to get violent. Through the door, even before I rang the doorbell, I heard a man yell, "I'm going to f*@!$% kill you!" to the woman. I hightailed it back to my car and called the police. All I could think was, "What if I got the order wrong or don't have exact change? What if he has a gun out?" My manager actually scolded me for this incident, which horrified me. He was upset that we probably lost a customer. I was upset that I could have lost my life (and so could the woman in the house, though it turned out once the cops got there to be a non-physically-violent situation).
  • The third, I was delivering to a quiet house in a typical suburban neighborhood. A man answered the door and seemed a little off; right at the beginning he invited me inside, though it was a nice day out. I politely declined and proceeded to tell him his total. He pointed at the dining room table that was maybe four or five feet inside the door where he had set the money. I quoted the rule about not being allowed by my employer to go inside a customer's home, and only after a minute did he retrieve the money. Something about this situation is the most disturbing to me. I can just imagine someone less paranoid stepping inside and never coming back out. It doesn't fall into one of the categories where the lack of cars/lights/openness creates potential hazards.

I know that these stories are mild compared to many that are out there (besides searching the news I follow two other bloggers who have foiled robbery (or scam) attempts: Kevin over at Pizza Delivery Stories and one over at Memoirs of a Pizza Delivery Guy), but I know that my only chances of staying safe are to stay vigilant and to wonder how each delivery could be a setup and being prepared for that situation.

[Photograph ŠiStockPhoto/DOConnell]

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