Having a Minimum Wage Job During COVID-19


Maya Long, Editor In Chief

I officially went on ‘extended leave’ last Monday from my job at Domino’s. Why you might ask? I was getting paid well ($13 an hour and approximately $850 a month), the hours I worked weren’t long, and there’s nothing better to do during ‘coronacation’. Well, to be honest, I was afraid. It’s not that hard to be scared of working when the amount of uncaring, rude, and obnoxious customers increases tenfold in the wake of a global pandemic. I really could not take it anymore. 

I’ll backtrack for a second. I’ve worked at Domino’s since November 2019. Since then, my employee responsibilities have increased exponentially. As of my last day,  I was to check drivers out for the night, count money from receipts, get access codes to put through free orders, among other things. I know the ins and outs of that small pizza shop of Georgia Avenue. My boss and I were close, and he promised me a job whenever I was ready to come back. My coworkers became some of my best friends while I worked there. So again, why would I quit?

COVID-19 really brings the worst out in people. Whether it be gorging in grocery stores, or hoarding toilet paper, people’s true greediness comes to the fore. Yet, it amazes me how some people are rude, even downright mean, to minimum wage workers who are making pizza during a time of disease that is killing thousands of people.  I’ll give a story as an example: I was yelled at for not putting enough toppings on a pizza when the customer asked for normal toppings, on a medium-sized pizza. And, to top it all off, I was not the one making pizzas that night. A little insight on toppings for Domino’s: there is a set amount, a number, we as employees learn to put on pizzas based on the size and amount the customer orders. So, if a customer orders a medium-sized pizza, we as employees know how much to put on. If the customer indicates they want extra of one topping, we put extra and double the topping for a customer indicating double. However, this customer decides to yell at me, who was working the phones on a Friday night (the busiest night at Domino’s). It was almost 8:30 pm, which is around the time I leave my shift. I tried my best to explain that we didn’t decide how many toppings we put on, corporate Domino’s does, and if he had a problem with it, he should take it up with them. Long story short, I was a little scared of this 6’3 madman and decided to go to the back and grab a manager (who talked with him for another 10 minutes before the customer stormed off). 

I don’t know if people realize how tough people of lower-wage, hardworking jobs have it right now. They make pizza for a living, fear for their families regarding COVID-19, and then, have to deal with angry customers over things they cannot control. And, to top it all off, I have it good compared to most of my former co-workers. I am privileged enough to be supported by my parents financially. The money I make is put into a savings account and virtually, not touched, and will not be until college or beyond. Many of my former co-workers work each day to support their families as drivers. Dealing with angry and rude customers, who sometimes decide to not tip, affects their livelihood and primary income. So, as someone who has seen how sad and angry a driver comes walking into the store after receiving no tip from a large order, knowing that will affect their life in a significant capacity, I will be giving delivery drivers  25% – 30% from now on. 

 The other end of the spectrum, however, is incredibly nice and grateful customers. A very nice lady left $20 for my coworker and me to split on my last day. Those are the customers that I’m going to miss. Those are the people I created bonds with when I would see them come in and pick up their dinners every week. I can name them by face, and we’ve had conversations not regarding pizza. Those are the people I know I strive to be when I walk into a restaurant, knowing the workers are busting their butts for hours to not get respect, appreciation, or proper pay for a job that is necessary to so many Americans.

I can deal with hate from customers; that’s not why I quit. I quit because my mother is very much in danger from COVID-19 and I believed I was being irresponsible going out 5 days a week to work when half the customers who come into the shop do not wear masks. Despite loving getting my $425 dollar check every two weeks, I love my mother so much more. I can wait until this is over to go back to work. I’m writing this to try and urge everyone who goes to get food to do one thing: give the employees a smile or a ‘thank you’. It really makes our day. When someone nice leaves the store, I remember them. If they come back next week, I make sure their food is absolutely perfect. The one thing we need more of right now, during this time of crisis, is love; even from a stranger.