Monday, May 28, 2012

The Pizza Diaries, Part 7: The Invisible Woman

No one really notices pizza delivery drivers.  There’s no reason to, I suppose.  During my time as a driver, deliveries were a cold affair.  I knocked on a door, a customer answered, and without so much as a “hi there,” handed me money and took the pizza.  Only the occasional customer penetrated my shell of invisibility.    

I remember one in particular.  He lived in a small bungalow shaded by olive trees and a few oaks.  I delivered to his house several times, and his German Shepherd always greeted me at the door.  I think he liked me because I was never afraid of his dog.  I have a Labrador of my own, and I can spot the difference between friendly, excited energy and lethal hostility.  Taz just wanted to be the first one to sniff the garlic and mozzarella.   

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Maybe Jumping into a Volcano Would Help

When I practiced law, I often fantasized about how I would quit my job. I found it comforting to live vicariously through movie characters, particularly when I felt like I was doing a life sentence in the bowels of hell, aka a small-to-midsize firm. Watching this scene from Joe Versus the Volcano helped quite a bit.  In a nutshell, Joe finds out he’s dying from an obscure disease (a “brain cloud”) and realizes he’s wasted his entire life up to that point. His boss ends up on the business end of Joe’s newfound self-awareness.

If you’re having one of those weeks, I highly recommend watching this. It might make you laugh just enough to get you through a hard time at work. It might even motivate you to polish off your resume and see what else is out there. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Pizza Diaries, Part 6: F*&# You, Dave Ramsey!

I remember a particularly bleak moment during my pizza delivery career.  It was a Friday night, and I was already exhausted from working night and day all week.  It was pouring rain, it was dark out, and I had no umbrella.  I was to deliver a large pie to a sketchy-looking apartment complex.  When I got there, my heart sank.  There were no visible numbers on any of the buildings and no lighting to speak of. 

One thing that enrages me about the area where we live?  People around here have entitlement issues.  So much so that in the ultra-ritzy areas, there are many homes that are not even numbered and they’re surrounded by fences and moats and gargantuan trees.  Yet, people call up and order takeout with no special instructions as to how that takeout is supposed to appear at their doorstep. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Any Given Sunday

I just tallied up the total extra income I earned last month from my second job.  A little over $800.  It’s not quite as much as I made delivering pizzas, but it will do.  The nature of my current moonlighting gig is much different than my pizzeria job.  With this new gig, I can mostly work from home and I charge a much higher hourly rate than I earned delivering pizzas.  But I work fewer hours, and I do not have a steady stream of work, so I have to deal more with monthly income fluctuations.  Since I work full-time during the week, I tend to complete the projects for my second job at night and on weekends.

In some ways, it’s harder than delivering pizzas. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Pizza Diaries, Part 5: One Drove Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

I previously mentioned that my marriage suffered from neglect during my days as a pizza delivery driver.  We suffered in other ways as well, from one complicating factor: my husband and I only own one car.

When we moved across the country about a year and a half ago, my husband and I decided to sell his car so we would have one less expense to worry about.  We owned a home, so we were going to have to make the mortgage payment on our old place and the rent payment on our new place, so we cut back on as many non-essentials as possible.

A few months after we moved, our home sold and we no longer had the mortgage payment to worry about.  But we decided to hold off on buying a second vehicle for a few reasons.  For starters, we wanted to make extra debt payments (although we had not yet adopted a strategic plan for doing this); we carpooled to work since my office was only a few blocks from his; and gas prices in our area are always high (about $4.50 right now).  So we figured we’d save a little money by sticking with one car as long as we could stand it.  Plus, my husband’s job pays for a free monthly train pass, and we live near a station, so if push comes to shove, he can always take public transportation for free.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Lawyers and Anxiety

I was talking with a lawyer friend of mine the other night who wanted some dating advice from me.  A woman on a dating site had messaged him asking my friend to tell her more about himself.  He called me in a panic.

“So tell her about yourself.  What’s the big deal?”

“Well, everything there is to know about me is in my profile.”

“Come on, I’ve seen your profile.  All it says is that you’re a lawyer and you like to watch sports.”

“Yeah, I know, what else is there to tell?”

“Well, what do you think about all day?  What new things do you want to try?  What do you think the meaning of life is?”

“I don’t know, I haven’t thought about it.”

“Haven’t you ever read a book that’s completely out of the realm of what you would normally read?  Or listened to some world radio station at random just to see if you like it?”

“Why would I do that?”

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Pizza Diaries, Part 4: Stereotypes and Tipping

I’m no stranger to the service industry.  In fact, when I decided to get a second job, I knew the only way I would make good money at a night job would be to earn tips.  I knew this because after I graduated high school, I worked various day jobs while going to college, but I always supplemented my income by waitressing at night.  If I made $10 per hour during the day, I knew at night, I could make $15 or more waiting tables. When I decided it was time to get my hustle on again, I thought of pizza delivery because I could earn tips without the inevitable back pain, leg pain, and side work that go with serving gigs.

But there’s an ugly side to working in an industry where workers rely on tips.  I’m talking about stereotyping people based on how some service industry workers believe certain groups of people tip or don’t tip.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Pizza Diaries, Part 3: Just the Facts

For those of you considering taking on a second job to eliminate debt faster, read on for some of my experiences with moonlighting.  

We’ll start with the positive.

1.  The money was terrific.  The area I delivered in happened to be quite wealthy, and the pizza was obscenely overpriced, so on average, I earned between $21-25 per hour.  My base pay was $8.50 per hour, plus $1.50 per delivery.  I would make about two deliveries per hour, and the minimum tip was usually $5.  If I had a big order, it was not unusual to earn $15.   My shifts were usually about three hours – longer if I had to close – so I ended up bringing home over $300 per week. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Pizza Diaries, Part 2: What I Wouldn't Give for a Flux Capacitor

My first week as a pizza delivery driver, all I could think about was what I would do if I were ever invited into Doc Brown’s DeLorean.  I guess the first thing I would do is pay a visit to my twenty-six year-old self and beat the shit out of me with my LSAT study guide.  And then I’d rip up my Grad Plus Loan application. 

But according to the most senior driver at the pizzeria, I was supremely lucky. 

Drivers at Papa John’s have to make pizzas and wash dishes in between deliveries, "Reed" informed me.   At the local mom-and-pop pizzeria we worked for, on the other hand, drivers basically just sat around during slow periods.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Pizza Diaries, Part 1: The Things We Do for Love

I didn’t have much of a family growing up.  That’s not to say that I did not have parents, or a decent number of siblings.  What I mean is that I never felt a real sense of family.

My mother grew up outside the United States, in a poverty-ridden locale.  She was functionally illiterate when she came to the United States, which limited her employment prospects.  In fact, the only jobs she ever had while I knew her involved cleaning up after people or animals.  I suppose this contributed quite a bit to her rage issues, although I have not quite gotten to the point where I have forgiven her for being emotionally and physically abusive to me.  I suppose that does not matter much these days, since she died this past November.  It had been a number of years since I had seen her, but it still hurts.  It’s funny, she never cared much for people, but she really liked animals.  So now every time I cuddle with my dog or watch one of my cats sitting near an open window pane, soaking in a warm afternoon breeze, I think of her.

The Start of My Blue Period

I took a long break from posting on my blog for one simple reason: I had no time.

A little background.  For about the past year, my husband and I have been paying off every debt we have, following Dave Ramsey’s seven baby steps.  We only had two types of debt, our car and our student loans.  Our car note was about $18,000 and our student loans, combined, were over $100K.  So we got cracking on our car note first, since that was our smallest debt.  A year later, we are down to my federal student loan, which means we’ll be living pretty lean for about one more year.  How have we been able to make such dramatic progress in only one year?  Work, work, work.

My husband works a salaried position (meaning he works a lot more than 40 hours per week), and he travels a lot for work, so there was no practical way for him to get a second job.  I therefore took it upon myself to find creative ways to generate more income.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A Hollow Victory

As you can see from the pic posted here, I have fully repaid one of my student loans.  This particular loan came directly from my school, which is why I cut out references to my alma mater's name.  That leaves me with one other loan that I am currently repaying, and then I am done.  I have about one more year, give or take, of Spartan living before I am debt-free, and I can close the dark chapter of my life known as Law School.  When I received this payoff notice, at first I felt a sense of pride and hope.  Soon I would actually be able to save some of the money I earn and build wealth for my future.

But after I read and re-read the second sentence, pride and hope were replaced with frustration and sadness.  Because I repaid my loan, some other poor schmuck now has the ability to take out crippling student loan debt.  And my school's low default rate remains intact, resulting in further federal student loan funding.