“You hang out around here, do all of the small stuff until your name is called, then deliver your pizza, come on back and just rinse and repeat from there,” said one pizza delivery driver at Uncle Pizza. That attitude is why we admire pizza deliverymen and women on such a fundamental level—they’re called upon to perform an honorable duty that often goes unrecognized.
While your evenings often transition to cheesy, carefree bliss once you hear the doorbell ring, the ‘za carrier soldiers on, dodging potential dangers left and right. As it turns out, the life of a pizza deliverer is often fraught with violence and heartache—and we don’t do nearly enough to valorize these urban road warriors who spread happiness far and wide.
With news just breaking that Acid Rap icon Chance The Rapper will be starring in a murder-mystery flick about a pizza delivery guy, these under-appreciated slice-mongers might finally get the attention they deserve. That film isn’t set for release until next year, but there are countless real-life examples that we can learn from now. Here, we break down the hero’s journey that is the life of a modern-day pizzaboi—and why he’s a testament to the human will and spirit.
I. Getting bullied in the streets
— Kentish Gazette (@KentishGazette) June 18, 2015
The life of a pizza carrier isn’t one for the faint of heart. Check your local news or Google “pizza” alerts and you’ll notice the alarming rate of violent crimes affiliated with the job. Hitting the streets day after day exposes them to all sorts of dangers, and they’re constantly thrown into the line of fire. But beyond mere accidents or coincidences, pizza deliverers are often targets themselves. In Lexington, KY, one pizza man was lured to a vacant apart building and promptly jumped by three teenagers who ran off with both his money and pizza. That very same day in Norfolk, VA, another driver was assaulted by two men who stole his car. The day before in Westbury, NY, a Papa John’s employee was robbed while waiting for a customer to answer the door.
Those may seem like isolated incidents, but there is a much larger trend at play. According to Eater, another Domino’s delivery man told police that he was “delivering pizza when he was approached by four men armed with swords. One of the criminals held a sword to the driver’s throat while searching the victim’s pockets for money.” In Chicago, there was even a group of 20 year-olds specifically terrorizing pizza boys. The struggle is real.
II. Fighting back
That’s right, my real life movie starring my brother in creative arms @chancetherapper is cooking! New poster by the excellent @thatkidwhodraws A photo posted by Austin Vesely (@austinvesely) on
But in the face of such pressure, the pizza deliverers summons the courage to respond. He trudges forward in the name of pizza. NPR reports that in Hollywood, FL, one armed Domino’s employee pulled the trigger on two men who attempted to rob him. A Papa John’s employee in Atlanta who was forced out of her car and onto the ground was able to discreetly pull out a gun and shoot her attacker in the face. NPR says “the driver’s mother tells WSB that her daughter was still shaken by the encounter and that she was also afraid she would lose her job for breaking the company’s rules against carrying firearms.” Which brings up a broader question—why did these people feel compelled to carry a gun in the first place? Are pizza companies doing enough to protect their most valuable assets?
III. Transcending the madness and saving lives
Despite the daily hardships they encounter, pizza boys and girls still find reason to do good. One in Florida tipped police off to a man who had been running an illegal cockfighting ring; 123 chickens and roosters were confiscated. “We really appreciate this pizza delivery driver calling us. Frankly, I can’t understand why someone would ask for a pizza delivery during an illegal cockfight, but [we] are happy to also make house calls,” said Sheriff Grady Judd. Anson Lemmer was only two weeks into the job when he heroically saved a man’s life by performing CPR. “I left a pizza boy and returned a pizza man,” said Lemmer.
Just like a bar-mitzvah, delivering pizza in your teens serves as the ultimate rite of passage—a contemporary symbol of the transition from adolescence into adulthood, and a reminder to approach life with humility and compassion.
“I don’t think it was anything heroic that I did. It was just something that I had to do,” Lemmer said. Atta’ boy.