- The Idea
- 4 Dollar Monday
After having started my application process at Express Professionals, I decided to go out and busk, on a Monday night.
I have never been a fan of television, the last time I owned a set was in 1996. This was a little 7 inch screened black and white one, which would also run on a bunch of clunky "D" sized batteries. It was 1996, as stated, and the set was already old at that time. I would watch The David Letterman Show, starting at 12:30 AM, I believe, and then would switch the thing off, and get back to my music studio.
This was when I was living in a trailer park in Jacksonville, Florida, delivering pizza 45 hours per week for a Dominos on the other side of the river, and had my trailer divided into The Computer Room, and The Music Studio Room.
Internet access then involved going through America Online, or one of its fledgling rivals, and wasn't free, nor wireless, so, I stayed offline and had fun writing and keeping a Lotus spreadsheet, devoted to tracking and analyzing my pizza delivery job, in as many aspects of it as I could think of, solely so I could program that particular functionality into my spreadsheet, and tinker with it.
I had fields for hours, miles, number of deliveries, tips and other ancillary data like the number of "bad orders," which were the pizzas that went undelivered, due to their having been ordered as a prank, or to lure the driver, with his change for a 20, to an abandoned dwelling in order to try to rob him.
One time, a group of pre-teens, it turned out later, had ordered a pizza to a particular house in their neighborhood, probably so they could watch the spectacle of that particular neighbor being disturbed by, and having to frantically explain to, the deliveryman, that they hadn't ordered a pizza.
Upon my arrival, though, I noticed that around the driveway, there were parked, a car with a Pizza Hut sign on it, another with a Hungry Howies insignia, along with a Yellow Cab. Sirens could be heard nearby.
A frantic woman who was standing by the door yelled: "I didn't order a pizza. I don't know who is doing this!"
A fire truck soon arrived on the scene. This last item is germane to how I found out that the prank was instigated by a group of pre-teens in the neighborhood, as, it being some kind of pretty serious crime to play a prank on a neighbor by dispatching a firetruck to his house, the police took the matter seriously, and I believe one of the kids cracked under the brunt of the investigation. You have to be vigilant of whom you invite to your sleepover, as one of them might be a stool pigeon, I guess is the moral of this story...
But, I didn't want my spreadsheet to count this as a delivery and to dilute my "average tip per run" stat, and so I had programmed it to subtract bad orders out of the equation.
I entered my odometer reading at the start and end of each shift, along with the amount of gas that I had burned, arrived at by my filling the tank to very top, to where I could see the gas an inch away from spilling down the side of the car, so that I knew that I had replaced pretty close to exactly what I had burned.
The odometer figures went into the spreadsheet, along with whatever the price of the gasoline, down to the tenth of a cent, was, and this allowed me to add stats like; how many miles per gallon I was getting while delivering pizza, and what the average distance of each delivery was (it was 3.19 miles in the San Jose Blvd. store's delivery area, based upon over 10,000 deliveries logged into my sheet after a couple years). The spreadsheet further took the average number of deliveries per hour and subtracted the cost of the gas to deliver them from my wage plus average tip amount per hour, and calculated my "actual" wage, factoring in the cost of car repair and maintenance, and anything else I could think of to put another gadget on the spreadsheet for.
After a few years of this admittedly anal-retentive bean counting (I had statistics on 4 different stores that I worked out of) I determined that a pizza deliveryman, working out of that particular store was actually making $7.43 per hour, not the $15-$20 that he was walking out of the door with at the end of a busy shift; when it was all said and done. That would be the amount advertised on the fliers they posted looking to hire more drivers. I could have added the fine print that, for every delivery made, 83 cents is earmarked for gasoline, new CV joints, oil changes, tires, fan belts, new drivers side door handles prematurely worn out from being opened and closed 50 times a day, etc.
There is some kind of synchronicity in the universe in that, the store that I wound up working at, based upon my spreadsheet calculations, was the one with the fewest average amount of deliveries, yet the highest average tip amount. It was Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, where the average tip was over 2 dollars. It was full of gated golfing communities, the home to millionaires, and the 50 dollar tip was an every-so-often occurrence.
Some Things Don't Change
And, now, the result of my having shuffled around, seeking out a playing upon arriving in New Orleans, has brought me to the Lilly Pad, where the average number of tips is lower, yet the average amount is higher, and the 50 dollar tip is an every-so-often occurrence.
That was the computer room, and my Lotus Spreadsheet hobby; back when I had to archive the data once the size of the file neared 528 kilobytes.
But I had the little black and white TV.
Today, I got the second TV of my life, a 26" Zenith, which I will give my neighbors upstairs 40 dollars for, as soon as I can.
Things have been happening kind of strangely of late.
I already had the idea of buying a cheap old TV and then paying 30 bucks for a digital converter box, to give me access to countless channels. The picture wouldn't be "high definition," but such a drastic step up from my last "7 black and white set, that I'll be alright with it.
I'll be able to watch football this fall and, more importantly, record it while I'm busking. . I used to hate having to miss a Patriots game because the Saints were playing at the same time and I couldn't afford to miss busking outside the Superdome.
So, I had come up with the idea of getting a TV from Goodwill for maybe 25 bucks, and then pairing it with the digital converter box, utilizing its "legacy" (read: old piece of crap TV) output.
That same night, after having busked and made 46 bucks, I came upon a lot of trash that had been deposited in front of a building along Canal Street. I was on my way back to the apartment after picking up a can of food for Harold the cat. I had ridden my bike an extra 3/4 mile to that store, to save 20 cents on that can of cat food, after having discovered that the price of it at the French Quarter Walgreen's was that much higher.
There, on the pavement next to all the trash cans which were full of evidence of an office having been gutted, was a huge box full of VHS cassettes. Most of them were Disney productions; Mary Poppins, Jungle Book, Lion King, Pinocchio, etc.
I had 18 Disney titles when I got home after having stuffed all of them in my pack, which happened to be as empty as it ever was because I hadn't bought food that one night.
Enter Rose and Ed, my neighbors from upstairs. They asked me to borrow a couple bucks for gas so they could go and get more money, and when they came to pay me back, they saw all the VHS movies, and wound up giving me a VCR and selling me the Zenith TV for 40 bucks.
I have gotten the idea of starting a business, after getting a trailer for my bike.
The business will be delivering groceries to people in the French Quarter. I'll have to have a website (I'll find one) and have business cards printed up, and have and "app" on the site that people can load into their smart phones so that if they are elderly or shut-ins, or are having a party which they don't want to leave because the Cheese Whiz ran out; they can place a food order which will pop up on my own tablet's screen.
Of course someone already thought of it. Xavier, a cashier at Rouses Market told me that there is a guy who already does such, but added that he can't be in 2 places at once, and that as his business grows, he will hire people, but why work for someone else when I could be an entrepreneur?
Again, this isn't something that will take the place of musical pursuits and, in fact, if it is slow to get off the ground, I can stay sitting on the ground busking and, if I get an order; pack up my stuff, run over to Rouses Market; fill their order and deliver it to them.
Xavier has his own business; something to do with organizing conferences; printing up menus, arranging to have the sound system and the hall set up, or whatever conferences require.
It is further synchronicity that on the eve of my having applied for the first in 9 years, the idea dawns upon me when I am in Rouses Market, and Xavier was right there to feed me encouragement, like telling me that for $9.99 I can have business cards printed; and then go around the Quarter sliding them under doors....