January 7, 2014 |

Driver safety, public safety trumps the sale

By Jeremy White


When the weather gets bad, the delivery calls come pouring in.

No doubt about it, when the weather gets bad your customers expect you to be at your best. Ice and snow storms will keep the public off the road, yet they still expect you to magically deliver them a piping hot pizza in a matter of minutes even when they won’t get out of their pajamas.

The other night, I was driving home from a meeting. It had been dark for about an hour and our area had experienced snow, lots of ice and exceptionally blustery weather. The temperature was dropping fast, and on my drive home I quickly found myself wishing that I would have had enough common sense not to get out in the first place. At several intersections, despite driving slowly, braking slowly and being generally cautious, I found myself sliding on the ice when I attempted to stop my vehicle. I saw a pickup truck in a ditch near the Interstate and another one in a ditch on a city road near my house. On the radio, I listened to weather forecasters talk about the dangers of being out in this kind of weather. I listened as the news broadcasters said the mayors of Indianapolis and Louisville (where Pizza Today is located) were asking local schools and businesses to close. In short, they said, don’t be out on the roads unless you absolutely have to.

As I pulled into my neighborhood I tightened my grip on the steering wheel and exhaled a bit. It was a relief to be off the roads.

Then, as I pulled to a stop sign, I noticed a car coming in the opposite direction. It was difficult to see as the ice blew around in the dark night air. First I heard the brakes locking, then I noticed the vehicle sliding down the hill, uncontrollably, right towards me.

I spun my wheels for a split second as I stepped on the gas pedal in an attempt to move out of the way. Just as my vehicle lurched forward the driver of the incoming car regained control as well. I zigged one way, he zagged another, and we barely missed each other.

As we passed, he gave me a look that seemed to say, “I’m sorry, man.” I noticed the illuminated pizza delivery car topper sitting on the roof of his vehicle and waved at the pizza delivery boy as he returned to the store to prepare for another dangerous run in what was sure to be a long and hazardous night for him. I wondered which one of my neighbors had ordered the pie. I also wondered what it would take for the pizzeria to stop delivery and heed the warnings of local officials, who were asking businesses to close for the safety of their employees.

My guess is that it would have taken a formal state of emergency declaration, which we did not have. Right, wrong or indifferent, that’s just the way it is. The pizzeria needs the sale. The customer needs to eat. The delivery driver needs to earn his living.

But sometimes the safety of the public and the employee needs to trump the sale. As a pizzeria owner, should you rely on government to make that choice for you, or are you responsible for drawing the line yourself … and when do you draw it?

If you have something to say about this topic, we’d love to read your input in the comments box below.