I've noticed that extreme exaggeration seems to be the preferred method of complaining for most pissed off patrons these days. I don't know why this style of whining has become so prevalent, but it's an inarguable fact that the hyperbole has reached such a dramatic level that there simply isn't any truth left to be sifted out of the shit that is the majority of their stories.
Let me paint a clearer picture. A few weeks ago I was training a new pizza delivery driver by the name of Ted. Ted's a 65 year-old hippy that's been an avid touring blues musician for over 50 years. What does that have to do with anything, you ask? It means he's as soft as a newborn baby's skull. He's a fucking sweetheart. Sadly, that means he's tender meat for the massive amount of moronically mad customers to zero in on. On the positive side, it meant that training him was painless in that it didn't feel like I was given a full blown evening of acupuncture followed by a deep tissue Sriracha rub down.
Anyway, part of delivery driver training involves taking these noobs on ride alongs so that they can get a feel for how to tackle the more monotonous parts of the job. It's probably unnecessary to have the guidance go this far, especially considering we're talking about pizza delivery here, but I think that the teaching process is mostly just a procedural thing that we're forced to endure to remove any liability from the store. I mean, if Ted hit the blood thinners and Cialis a little too hard and careened off the road mid-delivery into an orphanage for mentally disabled paraplegics, it's safe to say that our store would probably be sued out of existence. With a paper trail of training they could probably avoid the blame by tossing me under the handicapped bus for employing incorrect training methods, or they could simply make the announcement that he was properly trained and that he just went all AWOL on his own erection filled accord. Either way their ass would be covered. Thus they always forced a tenured vet (a loser that's been there way too long) like myself to lug the newbies dead weight around. Training is rewarding in its own way, though. I mean, I get to impart important and impossible to learn lessons like how to pry one's fat ass out of the car on an every delivery basis. I also get to delve into other complicated tasks like how to make change without a smart phone and how to drive an automatic transmission while daydreaming about having a better life.
Another bit of coaching that I like to direct at the new blood is to warn them about junkies. For reasons that still remain unclear to me, addicts comprise about 10% of the pizza customer base. I don't know if this is indicative of the state of our country or whether drug abusers simply like to waste their money more frequently than most. Either way, on my second delivery with Ted we were lucky enough to pull down an order for a couple of tweakers that lived out in the middle of nowhere. I actually enjoyed taking the trainees to seedier places, because it sets them up for the reality of the job. Also, if you're wondering how I knew the customers were addicts, it's because I talked to them on the phone three times. Talk may not be the right word, though. I more or less was the recipient of unintelligible grunts and long awkward pauses followed by guttural demands for shit that our store's never served. If you're curious, this is how the conversation went:
METH HEAD: I want the chimichanga I ordered last time.
ME: Sorry, we've never had chimichangas.
METH HEAD: That's a lie. I had one delivered last week.
ME: I've worked here ten years, ma'am. We've never had chimichangas.
METH HEAD: I said I wanted a chimichanga.
ME: I'm sorry, I can't help you.
*Calls back five minutes later*
METH HEAD: Are you almost here with my chimichanga.
ME: Like I said, we don't have Mexican food. We're a pizzeria. Also, you hung up on me last time, so I didn't know if you still wanted your order.
METH HEAD: Fine just send me a pizza. I know you're lying, though.
*Calls back five minutes later*
METH HEAD: Where's my food?
ME: You never told me what you wanted on your pizza or where your address was. You just hung up on me again.
METH HEAD: So it's not on it's way?
This is was what Ted had to look forward to as a driver.
When we finally arrived at this addict's house, two people stumbled out to greet us. The first person was a wildly obese, meth addicted white woman that clearly suffered from a debilitating disease known as Can't-put-the-fucking-fork-down-itis. The other individual was a black gentleman that was wearing a hoodie that had the hood over his head in a rather intimidating fashion. This isn't a Trayvon Martin sort of black hate thing either. I'd almost assuredly hesitate if an unkempt white guy was suspiciously wearing a hoodie that was up over his head in the middle of a 95 degree southern California heatwave. Not Ted, though. Ted marched right up to our hoodied friend and asked him how he was doing and what his name was. The man paused and gruffly replied, "Altrear." It was clear from the get-go that Altrear wanted nothing to do with Ted's conversation. He was clearly only there for his homegirl to pay for the food and then to help eat it. That didn't stop Ted from showering him with courtesies that involved how Altrear was such a unique name. Ted even flat out said, "With a name like that you have to be an actor or an artist? Which is it?" The A-train responded with an incredibly irritated, "I rap." My world was instantly turned upside down. A drug addicted black man that's clinging to a morbidly obese white woman? My mind was officially blown. The fact that the credit card that they proceeded to pay me with was declined really blindsided me, too. Who would've guessed it? Seriously, what is this strange alternate universe that I stumbled into? Despite all of this nonsense, Ted seemed unphased by the mountain that we were mining that was filled with stereotyping gold. Instead he just doubled down and gave Altrear a slew of compliments and support in the form of asking a half-dozen follow up questions about his rap skills. After Altrear figuratively flipped off Ted verbally, Ted wished him fame and fortune and we went on our way. That's how nice Ted was.
That's why it made zero sense when later that day we got a phone call about Ted and his first delivery. The call was from an extremely irate random guy from well out of our delivery area. He claimed that while taking his trash to his curb, Ted burned by him at over 80 mph in a 25 mph zone. According to the man on the phone, he literally had to dive out of the way Die Hard-style to avoid being struck. He then followed up his harrowing story by hostilely saying, "A lot of folks around here carry guns. I carry a gun. If I would have had my gun on me I would have shot his windows out." He then began yelling and only stopped when our manager decided that the verbal jabs were packing a little too much of a punch and hung up on him.
First off, folks, stop being dramatic. Ted may have been speeding because he got lost on his very first run, but the customer never had to slow motion dive out of the way. Ted drove a neon green car that looked like the mutant offspring of a Toyota Prius and a Smart Car. That means that there would never be a time in which you'd have to dive out of the way. You could simply take one step in any direction and successfully avoid what looked like a green olive with Ted's pimento ass stuffed into the front of it. This car revelation also meant that the two cylinders and the razor scooter worth of horse power that was under his hood wouldn't have ever allowed his car to make it up to 80, especially on a podunk cliff-side road that sported a speed limit of 25 mph. He may have blown by this guy's driveway doing 35, but that's it. Why exaggerate that? Just call our store, say some guy in a neon car was going a little fast and we'll take care of it. We would simply tell Ted to cool it a little. Problem solved. Instead, this guy, and customers like this guy, think it's necessary to spin their stories into gold by essentially stating that we were smoking a blunt and shotgunning a 40 of Pabst Blue Ribbon while saddled to the back of an orbiting satellite. Just as a heads up, your proclamations about us threatening your life really isn't going to help make or break your case in our eyes. The crazier your story, the more our managers just assume that you were high on mushrooms and that our driver wasn't actually approaching the sound barrier. I'm not saying don't complain. Just don't exaggerate. We can address the problem in a much more expedited fashion if you don't talk about burying us six feet under the ground for supposedly running over your neighbor's dog kennel that was filled with seeing eye dogs and three week old ducklings. I know that seems obvious and straight forward, but apparently it's not, so there's your heads up.