By Amanda Kim Stairrett
Killeen Daily Herald
It's cold outside and you have the day off. You're hungry and decide to order out for dinner instead of cooking. You curl up on the couch in front of the TV to wait for your large pepperoni and mushroom pizza. Meanwhile, a driver schleps to and from her car in the below-freezing wind and delivers an instant meal to your door.
This week's weather has many delivery drivers in the area working a little more cautiously to make sure hungry folks get their food.
Several weeks ago, Papa John's driver Emily Guzman received a $10 tip from a customer after delivering his pizza on a cold night. Monday was the first time in her five months on the job that she encountered icy conditions. She navigated her 1994 Dodge Caravan from her location on Veteran Memorial Boulevard to Fort Hood, where most of her store's deliveries are made. She mostly encountered the tail end of the previous night's storm: slush.
The 18-year-old said that she definitely sees an increase in people ordering pizzas when the temperature decreases. Fortunately, though, they tend to give more, like the $10-tipper.
"It sort of makes it worth it," she said.
Tabi Garcia, Guzman's shift leader Monday, said that the colder it is, the more pizzas they sell. Bad weather can increase pizza sales by hundreds of orders, said Jessica Jost, the shift manager at a Papa John's location in Harker Heights.
That store had a crisis Monday morning when it ran out of large-sized dough. An employee had to drive to another location in Copperas Cove to retrieve more and slid into the ditch after hitting some ice. He wasn't injured, but the accident left the store without one of its delivery drivers for several hours.
The Harker Heights location "got slammed this morning," Jost said. It is not typical for a store to run out of dough, but a recent increase in sales left workers without their key ingredient.
"When it gets cold, it gets busy," Jost said.
Her drivers also see in increase in tips when it's cold or rainy, and her drivers reported earning good tips the previous Saturday when temperatures dipped into the 40s.
Jost said she's never known any of the managers to deny deliveries based on weather, but has told customers to expect a 1- to 2-hour delay on their orders so drivers could take more time or wait out the weather. Guzman tells customers the same thing at her location and hopes that they "don't get too up in a bunch" about it.
The Web site, www.tipthepizzaguy.com provides a list of people who make a delivery driver's job harder.
n Those who don't let drivers step inside during bad weather. "Drivers are generally not allowed to enter the house, but they are allowed to step in during bad weather," the site reads. "Just to stand in the doorway is sufficient. This usually happens when the customer is not ready."
n Customers who don't shovel the snow or clear the ice. "If you're going to order pizza, have the courtesy to clear a narrow dry path from the street to the front door," the site reads.
n Those who talk about the bad weather and don't tip. "By mentioning the weather, one acknowledges the horrible conditions and extra work the driver endured," the site reads. "We not only drove in adverse weather, we walked outside in it to your front door. To allude to this fact and not tip is extremely insensitive."
Staff photographer David Morris contributed to this article.
Contact Amanda Kim Stairrett at firstname.lastname@example.org