When Enrique Moreno bought his used Toyota Corolla four years ago, there were about 160,000 miles on the odometer. Now it's more than 200,000. Moreno has been delivering pizzas and sandwiches for Beauty's Pizza for years. I met him on a Friday a few minutes before noon. Six columns of pizza boxes were stacked up to 53 deep along the wall of the newly spiffed-up Cambridge pizzeria.
There were six drivers working this particular lunch shift. Moreno's job is to manage and dispatch the drivers and make sure every driver leaves with everything — drinks, plates, salad dressings.
"We have orders from MIT, Harvard, the Galleria [Mall]. They're all in different directions. How can we do all the delivery in the most efficient amount of time? Arrange things by area," Moreno, 52, said. A driver hurried in and greeted him as "master." He nodded. "One order is going this way, another that way. And people all order lunch at the same time."
He's a natural stage manager, with an intuition for time, distance, and how the two work together. But there's more to it than that. Before coming to the United States in 2002, he served as an official to the Supreme Court of the Justice in Buenos Aires. Like any long-practicing judicial-system professional, he has an instinct for strategy and logic.
Would he go back into law? No, he said. The American and Argentinean legal systems are too different. "I'm a little bit old for this right now. I'd need to study for three or four years, so I wouldn't start working until I'm 54 or 55. But I need work at same time. Life doesn't stop. "
A delivery driver's job changes with the seasons. In the winter, the store gets more calls from agitated customers asking where their food is.
"Winter is dangerous. I deliver the food. Fine. I get there as fast as I possibly can. All people think that when the weather's bad, we have a lot of busy and we make money. But it's not true. It's a lot of small orders. We get $1 every time. Know how many orders I need to make to make money?" Moreno said, throwing up his arms. Once, someone gave him a tip of 85 cents. "You stay in the house, you're comfy, you only have to call. This is working, this is a job. We pay our own gas, insurance. Fix and change oil. Everything."