des moines, Iowa, Pop Culture

Domino’s recruits customers as delivery drivers

The last bloom of American innocence fell sometime Sunday afternoon when I was trying to find a baseball game on TV.

There was a commercial for Domino’s, a restaurant that delivers pizza and other food-like products to your house for what one can only assume is fair market value for the convenience of not having to go into the kitchen and make a meal yourself.

This commercial in itself would hardly be a noteworthy occasion. Pizza delivery commercials frequent the spaces between strikeouts and home runs almost as often as advertisements for watery American beer.

But this commercial carried with it a tragic storyline, one so sad I scarcely repeat it in these paragraphs.

The commercial showed a woman walking out to her car with a pizza she had apparently picked up at the restaurant. The narrator said that when you pick up your own pizza at Domino’s, you become the delivery driver.

Fancy computer-generated graphics turned the woman’s everyday casual look into the garb of a Domino’s driver. 

The pizza company promised a $3 tip to customers who carried out their own pizzas rather than have a delivery driver do it.

What sad desperation is this?

Domino’s, the chain that once promised us our pies in 30 minutes or less is now giving us $3 if we just ferry the pizza ourselves.

This can’t be Domino’s.

Four years ago, Domino’s was dolling out $5,000 a pop to cities to help fix potholes, so pizzas wouldn’t get jumbled in transport.

Des Moines got a chunk of the “Paving for Pizza” money thanks to a column by yours truly in the local newspaper in the capital city.

In the 1980s, Domino’s avoided the Noid, a claymation villain determined to make your pizza arrive cold.

They brought a CGI Noid back to challenge self-driving delivery vehicles specially designed to keep your pizza hot.

Now it’s your problem.

I suppose this has something to do with the labor shortage everyone keeps talking about. Domino’s doesn’t want to pay drivers. Customers don’t want to tip drivers.

So Domino’s decided to tip customers and pretend they’re employees.

Drafting the customers to work for you is a strange way to resolve your labor problems.

I would prefer they called the $3 a discount and not a tip.

But I like this idea.

America thrives on convenience. 

As a nation, what we hold most dear is getting something with the least effort possible. 

This isn’t true down to the last person, of course, but there wouldn’t be hardware stores, banks, and pharmacies in grocery stores if we didn’t worship convenience.

We will pay a 15% to 30% markup on pop, candy, and donuts at the gas station because, well, hell, we could go to the grocery store where things are cheaper, but we’re already here and it just cost $70 to fill up a 20-gallon tank. 

This Domino’s situation reminds me of the gas station. And that’s not a knock on their food, gut 

I’m not old enough to remember the gas stations of the 1950s, when men in white shirts with bow ties came out to wash your windshield, fill your tank, and top off your fluids.

But I do remember full-service gas stations lanes at the gas station.

You pulled up, paid a couple extra cents per gallon, and a sweaty guy filthy shirt and oil-stained jeans came out to pump your gas and wash your windows.

Even that service faded away by the early 1990s.

Gas stations are convenience stores that sell gas along with breakfast pizza, DVDs, and enough varieties of pop to make a healthy pancreas explode like the Death Star at the end of “Star Wars.”

Maybe I would feel better if the gas station gave me $3 off per gallon.

But I doubt it.

Former journalist and future teacher Daniel P. Finney writes columns for the Marion County Express. Reach him at newsmanone@gmail.com.


Daniel P. Finney wrote for newspapers for 27 years before being laid off in 2020. He teaches middle school English now. He writes columns and podcasts for ParagraphStacker.com, a free, reader-supported website. Please consider donating $10 a month to help him cover the expenses of this site.
Post: 1217 24th St., Apt. 36, Des Moines, 50311.
Zelle: newsmanone@gmail.com.
Venmo@newsmanone.
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