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Day 5: A Tough Lesson Repeated

Today marked the first full week of part-time work delivering pizzas. What a wild ride. I’m tired.

I keep busy. Anticipation is key. There is always something to do. I buzz around. The up front area has a plethora of cleaning or preparation tasks, from folding boxes to retrieving ingredients.

Nothing to do up front? I go straight to dishes. I check bins next to the prep table. I get the chunkies out of the pans.

“RI, we’ve got a Spanish caller! Come take this order, please,” comes the voice from the order desk on occasion.

This morning the shift manager asked me to help box 30 pizzas for a single rush order. I’m terrible at helping box pizzas. I did my best, but she boxed and boxed while I resigned myself to stacking the pizzas in large carrying cases. Can’t win them all right away. I’ll get it. That particular order was big, though. It resulted in a record tip: $50. That felt great. It also served a valuable purpose at the end of the day.

4:25 drew nigh. The keyboard clicked as I entered in my receipts. I finished my receipts and readied my cash. Shiftmanager #1 started reconciling.

“Whoa!” she said. She was holding the $50 tip receipt.

“Ok, RI probably isn’t going to think this is very fair, but…” she said, referring to me in the third person. She turned towards the GM and continued.

“This was a $330 order and he got a $50 tip. Because of the size of that order, does the driver split that with the support team that helped prep it?”

“That’s one-hundred-percent up to the driver because he’s going to have to pay taxes on the entire $50.”

“Was it a cash tip?” Shiftmanager #2 asked.

“Card,” I and SMP #1 said in unison.

SMP #2 clicked his teeth and shook his head. “Yep, going to be lots of taxes on that one.”

At that point, my brain was mush. I had no concept of what the taxes might be.

I turned to SMP #1. “Well, SMP, what do you think is the right thing to do in this situation?”

“If it were me,”she said, putting a hand to her chest, “I would split it given the work it took to get that much done so fast with whoever was involved. That would be me and the cook. But you’ve got to do whatever you feel is best because you’re paying the taxes.”

“Hmm, well, based on what you’ve said-“

“What I’m saying is that you need to do what you want to do. It’s your choice because you’re paying taxes,” SMP explained, interrupting.

“Okay,” I said, “Well, based on what I’m hearing-“

She started saying something about how some orders were so big – in the thousands of dollars – that it was company policy to split it. I listened.

“Okay, so the right thing to do would be-“

SMP interrupted again with an almost identical explanation about doing what I think is right and taxes.

“What I mean is, the right thing to do would be to split it X, Y and Z ways.”

I got the tip split between myself, her and the cook then closed out and went home.

Bitter. I went home bitter.

I left that store feeling cornered and steamrolled. I blamed others at first, but I knew I had cornered myself. My response was my own and no one else’s. I was cornered in the trap of my own mind. I fell prey to Sucker’s Choices (see Crucial Conversations.) To quote another blog:

Don’t fall prey to a Sucker’s Choice. A Sucker’s Choice is this or that, an either / or … etc. The assumption is that you have to trade one thing for another.”


-Sources of Insight


What was the Sucker’s Choice in this case? My mind drew the dichotomy with a razor’s edge. Either I split the tip and keep the political peace, or I keep the tip and become “RI, the Jerk New Guy who won’t split big tips”.

This had complicated repercussions I don’t understand all the way. The emotional toil hurt. I was self-deprecating at first, calling myself greedy, whiney and ungrateful. Then I was self-righteous, calling myself the bigger person for rolling over.

“Well, my split is still a very nice tip,” I thought. I was somewhere on I-480. I turned on my blinker and took the exit towards Rationalization Street.

When I arrived at home, I explained the situation to my wife. She dropped the tax question. Turns out my method of splitting that tip left me with just the right amount to pay taxes, give or take $5-$7.

I was again assailed by strong emotions of bitterness and self-defeat.

The day paid well, even with money lost. It was the highest grossing day so far. I am very grateful for all the amazing answers to our prayers. That test at the end of today cannot change the nature of this wonderful opportunity to struggle out of bone-crunching debt. But a test it was!

Truth be told, I still feel defeated. Such is life.

I think the Lord saw fit to let me pass through this so that I can understand: I can be locked up in more ways than one. I have to learn to not back myself into my own corner. I have been afflicted by this in one way or another in every situation wherein I've interacted with others, without exception.

Limping a bit, but still running!

Roe Intense


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