Some people get so wrapped up in video games that they don't like to leave their homes. It's even a struggle to get them to the door.
A group of Aberdeen gamers sometimes orders three bottles of pop from Domino's Pizza. “They just literally order soda because they don't want to leave their house,” said veteran delivery driver Andre Cobbs. “They're going to sit there all day and play their video games.”
So they order a pair of two-liters and a 20-ounce bottle of pop. “That's just enough to get a delivery to your house,” Cobbs said. The minimum delivery order is $9.
Getting that pop, though, doesn't seem that urgent to the gamers. “You'll deliver it to them playing their game, and you'll be banging on their door and they've got their headset on and they can't hear you,” Cobbs said one recent afternoon at Domino’s.
It wasn't that long ago that Cobbs was a Northern State University undergraduate. Some of his Domino's co-workers are gamers. So Cobbs understands them and doesn’t mind them at all. “They're actually fairly good tippers,” he said.
Cobbs, 29, has worked for Domino's since 2005. So he knows the patterns of Aberdeen's pizza customers. Some people, he says, get in a routine.
At the beginning of each week, a man orders one pizza and six, 20-ounce bottles of pop. The liquid comprises his soda for the week. The man has been following that custom as long as Cobbs can remember.
A lot of people in Aberdeen know Cobbs. Because of his pizza work, he has been in many Aberdeen homes. But he’s also acted in three plays — one at Northern and two at Aberdeen Community Theatre. He even played a little football at Northern. A native of Richmond, Va., he moved to Aberdeen in 2005. He is now working on his master's degree in education, with an emphasis in e-learning, at Northern. He and his wife, Jill, have two daughters — Eritrea, who will be 3 in January, and Josephine, 1 1/2.
Because of Cobbs' friendly manner, he's gotten to know many Domino's customers. He especially likes to talk to young people. “I've always had an affinity for children.” He remembers that when he was a kid, it was always nice when a grown-up talked to him. When Cobbs is at the Aberdeen Family Y, he'll run into some of those kids, who will give him a high five and say hi.
Cobbs learned from his parents that the more people he knows, the more people he can help. And those people will often help him in return.
He likes the way people around here do favors for each other. When he helps a friend move, there's an understanding that the favor will be returned down the road. Back in Virginia, “you've got to pay people for everything.”
In Aberdeen, he gets help from people “that I never thought I would need help from.” A pizza customer he was nice to will find out he can do something for Cobbs and say, “Let me help you out.”
In the pizza delivery business, the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is a good time for tips, because “people are in a good mood,” Cobbs said.
When Cobbs started out in the pizza business, it would sometimes frustrate him when he didn't get a tip. Now he doesn't mind because he knows that it all evens out during the course of a night.
Because he comes bearing pizza, Cobbs pays a lot of visits to the NSU residence halls and to Presentation College. He also makes late-night deliveries to nurses working at Avera St. Luke's or Sanford Aberdeen Medical Center. He likes dealing with those late-night nursing crews. One reason they bond is that they're all working people. “And they tip well,” he said.
The best tippers, he said, are younger people and older people.
Older people are generous partly because they might have children his age. One man recently said, “My kid used to do what you're doing right now. So I'm going to give you a little bit extra.”
Working people, including those who work in the restaurant business, are the best tippers. “I think there's the understanding that we're all working and just every little bit helps each other,” he said.
When Cobbs goes to a restaurant, he tips more than the normal amount, “because I know what the person's situation is, and I know what's going on with them.”
At Domino's, Cobbs is part of a veteran crew.
“We enjoy ourselves here,” he said. If you like what you're doing, a job is not a burden. At Domino's “we can laugh and joke together and do our work together.” It’s a job, but they work together “and it's enjoyable and people notice that, and it comes out in the food you make.”
Cobbs does a lot of traveling around the world. When he goes somewhere like Bolivia, he will visit the poorer neighborhoods.
The people who live there are “like the happiest people and the most gracious people, and they don't have anything. But they're always apt to give you what they have — a meal or something. You can't go to anyone's house without eating food. That's all they have to give you. It can be the smallest thing. They're thankful that you're there.”
And that concluded my dinner with Andre.
Jeff Bahr is an American News reporter. His email address is email@example.com. His phone number is 605-622-2320.