October 30, 2007

Pizza Delivery Revolution


I had an idea. I think it's a good idea. When I get good ideas, ones that I can act on, it's rare, and it makes me wonder where they come from. Because there wasn't anything that really spurred me onto the idea. Because if I could simply manufacture great ideas, I'd be doing it more often. And I'd be rich. I think good ideas are usually accidents, though. I have a theory about where my idea came from though.

I think it's an answer to prayer.

You see, my lifestyle isn't one that yields immediately impressive revolution and heroics. I'm just a guy learning one job and, let's be honest, being really awesome at the other. I've been a pizza guy for over two years now, and I've had plenty of adventures. As glorious as being a pizza man is, it doesn't often lend itself to me being an agent of redemption and revolution on planet earth. My crusade for better tipping has been short-lived and poorly executed. And so I was asking God for a way to make a difference where I am right now.

Enter Roy Williams.

Detroit Lions (Ahem, that would be the 5-2 Detroit Lions) Wide Receiver Roy Williams openly admitted to being a deliberately bad tipper with an awful lot of money. So a few weeks later, Pizza Hut had him deliver pizzas. So I hear, he gave his tips to charity.

And I thought, I could give the 20, 30, 40 bucks I make one night to charity. I already fight hunger on a very small-scale - I provide access to pizza for those lacking initiative or automobile. If for one night I can give my tips to an organization that fights hunger, it will be a way for me to make a slightly more significant, more necessary dent in West Michigan's hunger.

Second Harvest Gleaners food bank can prepare 32 meals with every dollar they receive. Don't ask me how, that's just what the billboard between US-131 and GVSU's downtown campus says.

And so, I imagined myself showing up at their front office, the secretary with the beehive hairdo, pointy glasses and pearls staring at me awkwardly as I hand her a crisp $20 bill. I wink and say, "This should buy, like, a hundred meals or something." And when I leave, I help an old lady cross the street. Because that's what modern revolutionaries do - they help old ladies cross the street.

But I got to thinking, what if it wasn't just me, what if all the drivers at my store would do it? We could make a bigger dent. What if drivers at other stores did it, too? What if we got a lot of pizza drivers together - and honestly, we're a group that could use some good press - and said, just for one night, we'll give our tips to fight hunger. We'll fight hunger not for people unwilling to leave their living room, but for those that don't have a living room. We keep our mileage, we make our wages, but the tips go to something bigger, something better.

And that Roy Williams thing, I don't know, maybe we go to the Grand Rapids Rampage and ask if they might be willing to go along with it, maybe have some linebackers deliver some pizzas, if they can fit in my car. (They can't. It's a coupe. Escort. ZX2. Yeah, that's right, ZX2.) I think people would love to see a Rampage player on their doorstep.

With a little buzz, this is a way to help pizza places get more business, get good press and make a difference in their community without forking over a dime. It shouldn't be tough at all to pitch it to pizza chains. (Though, if they're cool, they'll match, right?) The timing is good - it's before the holidays and people are spending money, winter is coming and charities like Second Harvest will be in greater need of help. Also, we could play the Roy Williams angle if somehow the Rampage got involved.

I truly believe this could happen, and I believe it could work. We have the time to make it happen before Christmas.

The only hangup will be the reluctance of drivers to fork over their tips. Maybe we do it for three hours. Maybe we make it voluntary. People will be more willing to fork over three hours of tips instead of a whole night of tips. We pizza drivers are a greedy bunch. But we could show the world that we have at least a little heart.


October 23, 2007

Health Insurance

When I turned 23 in February, I was booted from my parents health insurance coverage. In those 23 years, I mooched off dad's insurance as I battled chicken pox, numerous colds, allergies, several bouts with bronchitis, a spat with scarlet fever, an outpatient sinus thing, and zero broken bones. (Actually, I think I broke my coccyx falling off a trampoline in the sixth grade, but it never got treated. Still sore. It's probably out of whack, growing into a tail or something, but I'll deal with that when I'm sixty.) In the eight months since then, I've lived a care-free insurance-free life. There are good things and bad things about this.

1. For starters, I don't have any dental coverage. This means I don't have to go to the dentist. I hate the dentist. Actually, I like my dentist. He's a righteous dude. I just don't like the several minutes I spend with his assistant beforehand. Always asking you questions with their fingers in your mouth while they stab your gums... I digress.

2. The second and final pro is that I'm not having money garnished from my paycheck. This means more money for thrilling, life-threatening, and all around bad-for-health activities like skydiving and smoking (I've devoted equal amounts of money and time to each), and less money wasted on keeping myself alive and kicking.

I guess now that you mention it (and you did, I heard you), both of those are cons. My teeth, I assume, are slowly decaying into near-british disarray, and I don't have any funds to keep myself out of debt while I battle sprained ankles and lung cancer (You know, from the skydiving and smoking, sometimes simultaneously.) I'm just a bad dive away from a life of debt. Or a car accident. There are a lot of bad drivers out there.

And so it goes that I'm on the hunt for health coverage, and I have some sympathies for anyone who goes through this process. It's not fun. The system isn't set up for you to understand it. The system is set up for, well, the system to understand it.

I'm in the position where I have asthma prescriptions that run at least $100 a month. (That's cable, internet, and phone service with the Comcast Triple Play! But only for a year. This is a whole different rant - or is it?) And so I'm trying to find a way to get prescriptions covered. This, I'm discovering, isn't an economical possibility.

They ask you questions - you a dude? You sick? You smoke? (I really don't, so don't go telling your parents or mine that I do) Ever had malaria? Ever dated someone with malaria? Any cousins with Scoliosis? That kind of thing. Every time you say yes, you'll pay another $10 a month. They need to make money, and you being sick all the time isn't going to help that. Sorry guys, insurance companies aren't there to help you, they exist to make money. Which is why they have a deductible. Your deductible is basically the number where the insurance company says, "Well, we've let them do our job long enough, and I guess we can start doing what they pay us for now." They don't cover a thing until you've paid your deductible's worth in medical expenses. Then, they often still don't cover everything. Seriously. I didn't know this until someone explained it to me last week.

My point: They don't make this easy. I can see why so many people live without health insurance. Lots of people can't afford it, and lots of people can't justify it. More and more, I think I'm one of the latter. People choose to live without it. And for now, that's what I'm doing. For people who genuinely need help, it's there.

Unfortunately, I have a job, so I don't qualify

October 17, 2007

Congress. Turkey. Congress turkeys.

I know, I know.

I'm a liar. I tell lies. Because that's what liars do, we tell lies.

My first post was called "No technology, no politics, no jellies." And I'm about to go back on my word. And it's not because I want to talk with you about jellies. Believe me, I do, but as badly as I want to talk about my favorite preserves, that's one promise I intend to keep.

You didn't really expect me to stay away from politics, did you? How could I be expected to get by without ranting about our government? They're an easy target. We have to talk about the government. In fact, we have to hate the government. I hate the government. I don't hate government. I hate the government. I hate our government. (And you should, too. You should hate your federal, state, and local government. You should even hate your drain commish.)

I'm pretty sure I'm just a few more congressional blunders away from libertarianism.

In case you hadn't heard, there's a war going on in Iraq. (Also, OJ was innocent, and Pluto is no longer a planet. Sorry.) We don't like it. Nobody likes the war anymore. And this is probably not due to a vast left-wing media conspiracy. It's because we still have future teachers, doctors, mechanics, writers, businessman, lawyers, politicians, astronauts, and ice-cream men who are still dying over there, and they're doing it because brainwashed terror-goons aren't playing fairly. Wanna blame Bush for this, for not being prepared. Fine, not on my shoulders. Or blame a weak-kneed congress that put the handcuffs on and wouldn't let 'em go in guns-ablazin'. Blame Martin Sheen. Doesn't matter to me who you blame.

While this is going on, Congress is having a little trouble doing anything right back home. (See: 11% approval rating)

Yes. Democracy in action (Democracy Inaction?). You can pick nine people, and one of them will feel appropriately represented by congress.

And sooooo....

Congress, looking to improve their standing, takes a nice long look at a war from 92 years ago. They scrutinize Turkey and say "Well, let's make this official. Turkey... Armenians... That was genocide. Yeah, definitely genocide. Let's pass a bill and make it official."

I don't dispute that what Turkey did was probably genocide. And I don't contest the catastrophe of genocide. What I have to wonder about is the timing. (side note: The movement to call this genocide actually has been set in motion only in the last few years. Nevertheless, the timing is bad.)

You see, Turkey is kind of important in the way we supply our troops, particularly with water. So we shouldn't make them angry. So much for diplomacy, right?

And Turkey is attacking the Kurds who, let's be honest, are probably some of the last people in the middle east outside of Israel who don't hate us. (Attacking the Kurds is a little like the bully, having just been told he's a bully, saying "Am not!" and then giving a nice charley horse. Great way to plead your case, Turkey.)

On one extreme of this issue, you can look at who pushed this bill, Californian congressmen (with Armenian constituents?). And you could assume that congress knew it would make Turkey angry, knew that it was an undiplomatic move, and foresaw potential difficulties with the war effort in Iraq, and acted without concern, even acted in the interest of undermining our troops.

On the other end, we see a congress who saw this bill and passed it without awareness of its repercussions.

And so we have the following situation:

Congress is evil.


Congress is ignorant.


October 11, 2007

Three men and a car accident

I saw a car accident today.

Actually, I heard it. I heard the thump, then I heard a co-worker in the next room say, on a cell phone, “I gotta go. I think I should call an ambulance.”

Accidents you can hear from inside are usually pretty bad. I stepped into the next room and looked out the window through the blinds, and the other staff gathered around to gawk.

I went outside, along with Jim, the guy who was on his cell phone when it happened. We stood there on the porch of our tiny office building, shivering in the cold, watching people stumble out of their cars into 44th street. He told me “that kid has a concussion. I’m sure of it. He was lying on the grass a second ago.”

Then some other guy came out and we assumed manly-break-it-down-mode. Jim told him, too, that the kid had a concussion. Other people had switched into hero mode, joyously fleeing their cubicles to help the victims, dialing 911 as they rushed to the scene.

I have heard women complain about the manly-break-it-down-mode. This is when guys break down stuff and try to figure out what happened and why. Usually, it’s when we have nothing more to say and we want to prove how smart we are. And usually it’s something completely inane that we don’t need to know and we shouldn’t want to know. It starts with a question like, “Wonder how they mow that,” or “This is not enough bacon. Why isn’t there more bacon?” If there’s a project at hand, like, say, we need to pull a crippled ox out of a pit or something, we’ll break down every detail. (It should be noted: It’s probably a good idea never to ask a group of men for directions. Or instructions.)

Women talk about relationships, but men get to the bottom of pointless things. This is what we do. No intimacy there, just how we like it.

And so we got to the bottom of things.

There were six cars involved, I came up with that information. One guy said he kind of saw it happen. The Cadillac, he said, came up too fast and couldn’t stop. It was going 40 miles an hour, the elderly man or woman who was driving it looked down, because they probably spilled their coffee, and looked up too late and slammed into the Pontiac – that’s a Pontiac, isn’t it? Somehow, we decided, this was the reason all six got involved. No question. Some of them were facing completely opposite directions. And one of the kids, we knew, had a concussion.

We talked about it more. Then the EMTs showed up – one guy works with an ex-EMT once who wasn’t there today – and we got to talking about our jobs. Then, someone had a phone call and it was 3:00, my quitting time, before I knew it.

And so I went home.

One Love.

October 2, 2007

Good thing I am not a dentist

Thanks for reading this. Really, thanks. The last thing I want to do is talk to myself. Though, admittedly, that’s not so bad, and not so unusual. I do it everyday in my car. (And you do too. Right? You do, don’t you?) Actually, what I do is more of a sorry attempt at singing and harmonizing with the radio. If you’ve ever passed me on the road, I was probably doing some mighty fine lip-synching. Forget lip-synching. You’re here reading my blog to get some real nuggets of info-tainment.

I was going to get on here and tell you about my new job, and how I’m glad I finally found a position where my boss is not some 17-year-old girl my sister knows from elementary school, the one who started smoking in the third grade. I was going to tell you how it’s nice to have a cubicle to adorn with post-it notes and inspirational posters and miniature basketball hoops (yes, hoops, multiple ones, as in full-court office balling). And how it’s cool to have a watercooler and how they tell me once a day to “stop leaning on that and get back to work.” But I don’t like talking about my job.

Know this: I got a job, and I felt as unqualified as could be for the real world and was pretty sure I was going to spend my life delivering pizzas and answering to high-schoolers. All of my fears were assuaged as I fell through the cracks and weaseled my way into gainful employment. But I am not my job, and I don’t want to spend all day talking about it. I’d rather talk about fantasy football and how picking up Dwayne Bowe officially makes me a genius. But, you have no interest in that either.

Instead, I want to talk to you about custom orthodontics.

Here’s the thing: I always, always liked the orthodontist better. He had more current issues of Highlights and a rack full of game boys. And when things went wrong with the orthodontist, I was absolved of any responsibility. Teeth not growing in right? Blame genetics, or maybe evolution. But don’t blame me because my teeth can’t figure out which way is up.

Conversely, at the dentist, I was to blame for the chaos in my mouth. I always felt awkward admitting that the blood on their floss had been shed by my dental indifference. It was always obvious that I didn’t floss, and they still asked me if I had as though I was the only rotten kid who couldn’t seem to find the floss. Looking back, I should have told her, “Of course I didn’t. Why do you think I’m bleeding all over your bib, like this?” but the hygienist’s interrogation chair is no position for sarcasm. After all, this was after they’d spent ten minutes mining my gums with the little pokey-pickaxe thing. No sir, I am not a dentist fan.

Of course, the dentist’s torture was fleeting. Orthodontic pain lasted weeks…but the smile lasts forever.

Or at least until I start chewing tobacco.

One Love.