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. 

2.  I had a lot of time to think.  Pizza delivery involved being in my car 80% of the time, so I had time to listen to podcasts and think about life, and where I want to be in five years.  I stuck mostly to financial podcasts (Dave Ramsey, Suze Orman, and Clark Howard), but I mixed in some podcasts by Alan Watts, one of my favorite philosophers.  I thought a lot about Buddhism actually, a religion I’ve always gravitated toward.  I am fascinated by the four noble truths, and I constantly strive to rid myself of unhealthy attachments.  I’m working on staying in that mindset.    

3.  I lost weight.  I would often forget to bring a snack to eat in between my day job and the pizza job, and then by the time I got home, I just wanted to eat dinner and go to bed, so I never really ate dessert.  Over the course of the 5-6 months I delivered, I lost about 5 pounds, which was a lot for me.

4.  I learned to be more efficient at my day job.  I had to be at the pizzeria on time for every shift, so I could never leave my day job later than 5:30.  This meant I had to finish all of my work in time to fly out the door in time to make my shift.  I found myself surfing the internet a lot less and finishing projects earlier than scheduled. 

5.  I was spending less money than ever before.  Because I worked so many hours during the week, I never had time to pick up takeout for dinner or to go shopping at all.  On the weekends, when I was home during the day, my husband and I had to catch up on household chores and we would have to get in some long workouts together since I didn’t have much time to workout during the week. 

6.  On average, during my pizza delivery career, our debt snowball payments were about $5,000 per month.  This sounds great, but I feel sick every time I think about how much money we could have socked away if we were not paying off debt with all of it.

And, the negative…..

1.  My self-esteem took a big plunge. 
To be clear, I did not feel bad about myself for delivering pizza.  I felt bad about myself for sometimes enjoying it.  On more than one occasion, I caught myself laughing with one of the drivers about a particularly horrid customer (the guy with the bulging left eye who always smelled like cat pee) or humming while I swept the floor of the driver’s area before closing, and I would think there was something very wrong with me.  Was I in some sort of arrested development, unable to move on from the pure adolescent joy of goofing off at work and feeling pride in an honest night’s work?

In the end, I realized the answer to this question was no, I did not suffer from arrested development.  After I quit, I did not miss delivering pizzas at all.  Those nights when I enjoyed my work, I was simply living the way I always should – with the knowledge that it is possible to be happy, regardless of circumstance. 

2.  My marriage suffered from neglect.  I like to think of myself as a superwoman sometimes, but in reality, one simply can’t be in a million places at once.  Because of my hectic work schedule, my husband ended up doing all of the housework.  I felt guilty about this because normally, we each contribute as much as possible, which means I vacuum and clean the kitchen and bathroom, while he cooks and does the laundry.  I know it was really hard on him to work so many hours at work, and then come home and pick up the slack for me.  I don’t think I appreciated him as much as I could have for how well he kept the house without any help from me. 

As for our sex life?  My god, is that all you ever think about?

3.  I felt alone.  I didn’t tell a lot of people about my moonlighting gig.  The few people I did tell weren’t very supportive.  I think they were worried about me working too much, but I could have used more encouragement.

4.  I was exhausted.  Sometimes I could not find parking near my customer’s house or apartment, so I had to walk a few blocks to get to my destination.  On those occasions, I would have to remind myself how much bad karma I would reap if I simply left the pizza on the side of the road (so I would not be considered a thief), drove home, and went to bed.  A couple of times, I almost fell asleep while driving, which is extremely dangerous.

All in all, I ended up making a nice chunk of change, and I saved a lot of money from not having any time to shop or eat out.  But pizza delivery is not for the faint of heart.  It stripped me of my ego, my energy, and camaraderie with my fellow man.

In a lot of ways, it was like practicing law.


  1. Thank you for sharing this experience. I regret not finding a part-time job. (I actually was resigned to taking a crappy PT job at McDonald's.) However, my work schedule consistently requires me to stay late or work weekends. My wife also has a strange schedule. We don't see each other often. One night per week, I go to the local chess club and play for a few hours. Other than that, we rarely eat out.

    I work and perform a lot of chores around the house and yard, when I have the time. I also don't spend much time online any more. I have become a better manager of my time. I also am able to get a full 7-8 hours of sleep every night. And as I approach my mid-thirties, do I really want to work 60 hours per week?

    1. It's never too late to get a second job, Nando! And it doesn't have to be a restaurant job, either. I still do work on the side for a lawyer, editing her briefs, etc. It's not a set schedule, so the income is not regular, but it does help our debt snowball each month. Do you still have student loan debt? If so, I highly recommend getting rid of it now. As a wise man once told me when I said it was too late for me to start another career: "Yeah, you should wait until next year when you're younger." Made me think...