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! —The Mgmt.

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Another important use of pizza: learning fractions and percentages. [Photograph: Pizza Girl]

This one's gonna be a little bit long and number heavy as well as focusing intensely on tipping and how much I get paid. But, no matter how much I enjoy the job (which I really do, despite the fact that it's easier to focus on the bad stuff than the good), at the end of the day, it's important to know if I made money or not. I decided when I took this job 18 months ago that I needed to make $12.50 an hour in order to make it worth my time. I arrived at that number because at the time it was what I was making at my primary job. (For more context, see also: Part 1 and Part 2.)

What is my average hourly rate per shift?

My store, when it needs drivers, puts up a sign that says, "Make up to $15 per hour!" Though I'm pretty sure legally they can't include our gas reimbursement in that number (since it's not taxable income), I can tell you right now that that is a completely misleading statement. Here's how I figured out my average wage per shift:

(Hours I spent clocked out on a run) x $4.95 = out of store wages
out of store wages + tips = out pay
hours spent in store x $7.50 = in pay
(out pay + in pay) / total hours = money per hour

In shift #1 that's:
(1.1 hours clocked out on a run) x $4.95 = $5.45
5.45 + 14 = 19.45
0.633 hours spent in store x $7.50 = $4.75
(19.45 + 4.75) / 1.733 = $13.96 / hour

Shift #2 works out to $11.30/hour

Shift #3 works out to $13.09/hour

In aggregate, over three shifts I made $12.54 per hour*. So it was worth my time (by my own definition), but telling people they can make "up to $15.00 an hour" is misleading as both of my longer, more typical shifts averaged far below $15.00 per hour.

*As of this pay period I got an annual raise which makes my in-store pay rate $7.62 per hour. All three shifts were conducted under the old pay rate, but just to give you an idea of how insignificant that raise is, if I calculated everything with the new rate I'd make $12.57 per hour.

How much does a zero tip affect my effective hourly rate?

To answer this question I'd like to take a look at Shift #3 in which my last delivery was a double where I received zero tip for both deliveries.

If both deliveries had tipped me $2 (something I don't find unreasonable since one of them was a free order and the other was a jerk), my hourly rate would have gone from $13.09 to $13.99.

If the customer who shorted me 9 cents on Shift #2 had given me a $3 tip instead, my hourly wage would have gone from $11.30 to $12.02.

What if, as I argue should be the case, every customer just tipped me $3?
I would go from making an aggregate of $12.54 per hour over three shifts to making $13.02 per hour.

How much better is it to take a triple instead of a double delivery?
I honestly don't have enough data to answer this one. If I split the amount of time I was clocked out on a run evenly between the deliveries on that run (For example if I took two deliveries on a run that lasted 30 minutes I would count that as 15 minutes apiece), I spent about 19 minutes on singles, 18 minutes on doubles, and 17 minutes on the one triple I took. Those numbers are too close and with too few data points for me to say that they mean anything.

Do I make more or less on the new pay scheme (as opposed to my old flat $6.00 per hour rate)?
Less, but not by much. As stated above, I made approximately $12.54 an hour. If I made the flat $6.00 that used to be the pay scheme, I would average $12.91 an hour. Over a year that only adds up to $3.70 a paycheck and $192 a year. It might not seem like much, but $3.70 will get me a whole meal at Taco Bell and probably two from the grocery store.

*****

Conclusions on my experiment:
Being the math nerd that I am, I enjoyed collecting the data and manipulating it in the spreadsheet. The results were interesting to me even though they just confirmed some things I already knew; that this job is worth my time and that I am truly at the mercy of my customers to make it that way. I think I'll be able to take this and use it when I'm having a bad delivery day to remind myself not to feel too bad, to smile at $3 tips and appreciate $2 tips for not being stiffs.

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