I don’t believe ANY weather forecast. This is Missouri, so you have to show me.
Yesterday, it did. At noon, it was 71 degrees, a record high for this day in January. Global Warming is nigh, Oh, wait– A cold front stumbled through like a drunken sorority chick, knocking shit over and blowing everything in sight. I worked at Domino’s last night, and for most of the evening, the temperature was in the teens.
Windy as well–windy as Hell. As Tim Robbins once said cryptically, "There’s a chill wind blowing–" Of course, that dick-head was talking about the country moving in direction that politically he did not agree with. I’m talking about a chill wind that I have to walk through carrying a pizza in an insulated bag to and from the car, to and from the door, up and down steps, and all over fucking creation trying to find an address.
Domino’s would, in theory, provide coats to it’s drivers. I mean, if it cared about putting on a front to show how much it cared about drivers while really not caring about the drivers all that much. There were two coats in the store, and the manager took one home with her. The other was an Extra Medium. I didn’t even have a hat yet. I had a tee under my Domino’s shirt, and normally that’s enough, but I wore my own coat with.
My first run is a triple–a three-stop. After being here a total of four days, I’ve proven I know what I’m doing. I get to the first one, and knock on the door. A short time later (thirty seconds? five seconds? The ability to gauge time accurately is affected by the cold), I rang the door bell. Finally, the woman opens the door. She seemed completely surprised by the fact that she ordered pizza. She says, "Oh. Wait. Hold on a sec," and closes the door, leaving me outside. I watched as she went upstairs, returning moments later. "Sorry about that," she said. Maybe it was the weather, maybe it was my attitude, but she didn’t sound sincere. She handed me a wad of crumpled up ones, which seemed out of place in this nice neighborhood. Perhaps she was a stripper on the weekends? That’s what I would have to do to afford that house.
But it was too cold to sniff the bills, or even count them. I waited until I got to the car to discover a four dollar tip. I guess I’ll let her live. For now.
Later, I have a double. After scoring big on all three of the previous runs, I get a buck and some change from each stop on the double. One was an older guy with palsy–it’s a good thing he didn’t order soda. He shook the pizza box up pretty good. The next stop was an apartment complex. Fuck, I hate apartments. Hold on to your butts, I’m about to bitch:
The fuckers who plan and design apartment complexes apparently have little to no regard for human life. They don’t give a shit whatsoever about the people who will live there, and they have a severe animosity towards the visitors those hapless residents may have. Stairs are the bane of my existence, especially when it’s cold and windy and icy and my knees hurt. They fuckers put fucking stairs GOING DOWN into their cute fucking little courtyard, and from there, it’s a goddamn maze of ramps and stairs and potholes filled with shit disguised as walkways.
That’s what made this complex special. What it had in common with EVERY MOTHER-FUCKING-OTHER complex is the numbering system. Instead of using logic, they use some other method of layout. Look, I fucking know numbering systems for addresses. I’ve been doing this for 20 goddamn years. If there was a skill I have, it’s this. If I can see one address on the street, I have a pretty good guess as to where I need to go. If I can find TWO, I can fucking NAIL it. So don’t fucking tell me I’m not logical; the sadistic fuckers who lay out the plans for the apartment complexes are the fucking illogical ones, the pricks.
But then, just to make it fucking interesting, to make it fun, to make it fucking hilarious, the numbers to apartment buildings are always where you can’t see them. Not, like, behind a bush. No, that would be easy. That’s amateur. The numbers are right on the front of the building. Black letters. With a dark motherfucking brown background. Try seeing that shit at night. And lit? Oh, yes, the building is lit. But the number is in front, the light is back behind, blocked by the architecture. So not only does the light specifically NOT help, it’s actually in your fucking eye when you try to squint at the goddamn number. Neat, huh?
So forget being able to drive around and spot the building you need; that would be convenient. You have to park in a handicapped spot, and lug the pizza all over fucking creation. Up and down steps, trying to get a glimpse of the number. Just because some asshole wants a pizza.
If you know someone who is an architect or designer, and they say they have planned out apartment complexes, do me a favor: kick them in the motherfucking nuts. Don’t even explain yourself. You don’t have to explain yourself; they KNOW what they did.
It doesn’t help that my night vision ability is kind of like an anti-super power. I have the ability to squint and still not be able to see shit. Add that to the sleet coming down, my windows are dirty and hard to see out of, I can’t roll the driver’s side window down when it’s cold (don’t ask), and I am a Stranger in a Strange Land. I have no experience in this delivery area. All I have going for me–other than charm and charisma–is the ability, after almost 30 stores, of being adaptable.
After traveling up and down and around, I finally find the address I need. I have to go up some stairs and get close to the numbers to make sure, because the font they selected has a 5 and a 6 that look similar. I go in, but it’s not over yet; I still have to climb a flight or two of steps, then traverse a dark narrow hallway. A young punk answers, smiles and grunts, gives me the money and closes the door. I count. A dollar twenty. I’ve wasted time and I’m out of breath from running all over this fucking place. A goddamn dollar and twenty fucking cents. If I only had a time machine, I would go back to 1986, when this was considered a good fucking tip.
But then again, if I had a time machine, I would go back and slap the shit out of myself for coming to work here in the first place. Then I’d give myself some tips on investments, and tell myself not to pass up that opportunity with that one chick I could have fucked twenty years ago. That would have been sweet–
Back in this time, I hobble my frozen ass and stiff knees back to the car. I stop at McDonald’s for food, because I get the impression that this assistant I’m working with is not very forthcoming with the free food for drivers. I swear to God, the chick at the counter was hot–she looked like an Asian Dominatrix. I asked her if she had a website.
"Do you want one? I believe mcdonaldsasiandominatrix.com is available. Or dot-net. I’ll moderate it for you."
Later, I take a run to another apartment complex, one I had been to before. Still, see above per stair reference. They really don’t want handicapped people to live here–
–Although they have nothing against the deaf and the retarded. The place is full of them.
I get up the steps, only to find more. It was like a surprise in my fucking cereal, a chocolate-covered roach. More steps, and then, just for good measure, two or three more to get up over this intricate bullshit landscaping that I could give a shit less about.
I knock on the door. It’s a habit, and a bit passive-aggressive on my part. I know they have a doorbell, but I’m special. Plus many times doorbells don’t work. I hear voices in the apartment, and music. It’s loud. I count to 20, knock again, then wait 5 seconds, and ring the doorbell. There’s a change within the apartment. Oh, yeah.
A fucking vacuum cleaner starts up.
Christ. They’re never going to hear me. I knock again, louder, and ring the bell. All told, I am waiting perhaps 3 or 4 minutes. When it’s 13 degrees and windy, that’s a long goddamn time. Fuck. Finally, I bang loudly and firmly–on the window.
Excited noises from inside, the vacuum stops. Eventually they open the door. Luckily my eyes are frozen, or I would have rolled them. They did tip decently and apologized profusely, but if they aren’t going to offer to help me down the steps, what fucking good are they?
Again with the stairs:
One of the last runs is to the college, to one of the dorms. Well, I can find these as easily as I can pick up a college chicks (By the way, want to know why I like college chicks so much? Well, they’re old enough that they’re legal. But I’m old enough that they don’t feel legal.)–which is to say, it’s not gonna happen.
I call the guy (How did I ever do this without a cellphone? I honestly feel like it’s cheating.) and he gives me clear, concise directions to the building he’s not actually in. But it’s a common building, and some chicks there direct me to the proper unit. Lots of walking in the cold, then up and down stairs.
So it was a reasonably profitable night, and I got lots of exercise. A good person would be grateful for that, as well as the opportunity to enjoy the fresh air in nature. But I’m not a good person.
On the stairmaster in Hell, you have to carry a pizza with you.
On the one paw, people leaving should mean it’s less likely that they’ll lay people off.
On the other paw, if the rain makers leave, that’s less business for us support people to handle, which would initiate more layoffs.
It’s a delicate balance, and the upper layers of boss (the crust, I guess) figure the best idea is to shove a dike in the hole. Oh, here we go again.
The dark and the rain only compounded the confusion. The giant ship seemed small as it tilted away from the iceberg. People were running and screaming, scrambling for the sparsely numbered life boats. A few, a lucky few, had escaped in the skiffs before the storm. Sometime between the pirate attack and being chased by the sea monster. Is it mutiny to just leave, or is it deserting?
The captain yelled above the fray, trying to maintain order. His voice was unheard before the din. Lightning crackled in the sky, and illuminated the ominous wall of ice that all but supported the ship, the SS Mortgage Division.
A loud horn sounded, and everyone turned to see another ship, weighing anchor and prepared to help. Or was it? The Jolly Roger whipped in the wind and a voice over a bullhorn called to them, "Join us or die! We can save you! Bring your rolodex and your documents!"
A swarm heeded the call, and the doomed captain tried to call them back. "Don’t go! It’s a trap! The market is too volatile!" he yelled in vain as one after another the passengers and crew jumped in the water and began to swim. Some made it. . ..and some were eaten by sharks. Others were scooped out of the water by rabid polar bears.
In the end, after the storm had died down to a drizzle, only dozen or so were left. Bryan numbered among them, and he counted himself lucky. Here he was, in the captain’s boat. Safe, secure. Homefree–
"Water! We’re takin water over the side, captain!" Panic spread through out the skiff quickly. Thinking quickly, the captain made a decision.
"We need to lighten the load!" The captain pointed at Bryan. "You! Come here!"
Anxious to please the captain, Bryan hopped up quickly. "Yes, Captain?"
The Captain unceremoniously pushed Bryan over the side. He then yelled, "Next!"
Bryan tread water, shivering, as the skiff floated away. The other passengers on the boat wished him well. "Good luck!" "Hang in there!" and "We really appreciate this!" They floated off to the mythical land of job security.
As the boat shrank from his sight, Bryan reflected that he should never have quit his last job.
So, yeah. we had a happy hour. Nice place, pretty expensive. But it was all paid for, drinks and food, and we got paid for an hour’s worth of attendance, so I went. I’m not turning down free shit. They had their own micro-brews, and I had three big, strong lagers. It was difficult to eat enough food to keep me from getting sloshy drunk, but I tried.
When I had originally showed up, there were only four people there, and one was the big boss. I stopped, and the server showing me the room stopped too. I confided in her. "Hardly anyone is there, but the big boss is there. I don’t want to go in there; I’ll end up talking to him."
She was helpful. "You can go sit at the bar for a while if you like–"
There’s something about sweet, hot, helpful servers that I like.
A group of others from work walked in then, and I opted to stride in behind them. Safe!
Later, thought, the Big Boss dutifully made his rounds like a politician running for office. I could have taken one of two tacks: Either be completely boring and make him leave, or be engaging and smart without being offensive. The third choice–being myself–was not an option because I wanted to keep my job.
We made conversation about the housing market. Even in a slump, the STL and KC–the Midwest–should fair better than most. The Bubble is on the coasts, and in larger cities. He nodded in agreement and moved on. I felt as though I had passed the riddle from the bridge-keeping troll.
Three beers deep, and the girls from my department that I was sitting with left, replaced by women I didn’t know as well. I chatted with them as I finished my beer, and then got up to leave. I told them, "I’m best in small doses, so I’m going to go now. It’s part of my allure."
I could have passed an alcohol test–I’m a big guy. I’m a little buzzed, relaxed. On the drive home I didn’t hit hardly anything. After making some overt sexual advances to Detroit which she politely declined ("Get off me, you drunk ass. Go take a nap.") I went and took a nap.
I feel like I need the dramatic music in the background as I explain to them once again.. .
The secret lab was in disarray. Tiny explosions accented the chaos, and small electrical fires filled the room with smoke. The survivors slowly rose, coughing and wondering at their fate. They looked about–Dr Evil Pizza had escaped once more.
An unnamed underling–the kind who wears a red uniform so you know they are dispensable–noticed a display on twisted and wrecked terminal. Large red numbers. Counting down. The ominous font left no doubt that when the numbers reached 00:00.00, they would all die. Right now, the numbers were at 00:20.15. Twenty seconds left.
A man emerged from the smoke and confusion walking confidently with a billowing cape. He strode directly towards the terminal. But in slow motion. Would he make it in time?
The tension mounted in the survivors, and some could take it no more. "Hurry up, you asshole!"
The unknown confident know-it-all asshole arrived at the terminal just as it said 00:03.96. He hit F10, then Q, then E, and the screen changed, and he logged off. The countdown stopped. Collectively, the survivors let out a sigh of relief. The leading lady-type looked up at him, deep into his eyes and said, "You saved us! How did you know what to do?"
The unknown man said, "I’ve done this before–" and he turned quickly on his heel, because that creates the best billowing cape effect. In a moment, he was gone.
"Who was that masked man?" One of them asked.
The woman answered, "That was no masked man. That was an asshole who used to work here."
The company computer guy was there, as well as the supervisor, Earl. Earl was the one who got me the job. There was some tension between Earl and Dina, the manager. They had a conversation, it got loud, and then they were almost yelling at each other. A carryout (customer) walks in, and they persist–not professional. I walk up to the customer, loud and happy and blocking the view of those two, and clumsily take care of him. (Yeah, I know this computer system, but it’s been four years.)
Their conflict is over another store. This other store needs drivers, and every store is directed to send over one driver per week to cover a shift. Dina hasn’t been. There are issues over it–not my problem, but I’m sure at one point it will be. (This is foreshadowing; let’s just see what happens.)
I take my first run. It’s twelve pizzas, going to a Jewish school. This is a rich neighborhood; of course there’s a Jewish school. Lots of little Jewish princesses and miniature Seinfelds all over the place. But the teacher that I gave the pizzas to was a hot Jewish babe.
It was an uneventful night. The problem with this place is, we have too many drivers scheduled. In 4 1/2 hours, I took six runs. I mean, come on. Even in an area this size, I can take three runs an hour easily. After I know the area better. The tips were decent, even my last run.
My last run was to the first black person I’ve seen in this area. Like I said, this is a wealthy area. There are houses I haven’t been to that are worth millions–mostly we deliver to the houses that worth worth half a million.
So, this is the cheapest pizza I’ve seen, too. Seven-fifty. Must be a coupon. I get to the house, finally. I had trouble finding it, because there’s no porch light on. I don’t see any lights, but it looks like a TV is on. You know, I could have went ahead up to the door, but I’m not going to play around anymore, plus I have a cell phone. In front of the house, I call the customer. Imagine the customer sounding like a constipated, out-of-breath Fat Albert.
Me (your cordial host): Hello, this is Bryan from Domino’s Pizza.
Fat Albert: (long, breathy pause) Yeah.
Me: I think I might be in front of your house, but I’m not sure. There’s no porch light or any lights on. I don’t want to knock on someone’s door and wake somebody up late at night by going to the wrong house, so I was wondering if you could turn your light on, so I know I’m at the right house?
FA: (a much longer breathy pause) Huh?
Me: Can you please turn your porch light on.
FA: (a short breathy pause) Aight.
A full two minutes go by, and I’m beginning to wonder if I am indeed at the right house. Finally, the porch light goes on. I get to the door and the guy is shaped like a barrel, and breathing heavily. I gently remind him that when one orders a pizza it’s a good idea for one to turn on one’s porch light as a courtesy for the driver. Dickhead.
But for the 7.50 pizza he not only gave me a ten, but an additional dollar as well. Not bad.
I just want to know what it is about some people (and it’s mostly black people but not strictly so) that they have all the lights off in the house. What the fuck is that? I know "if you’re not in the room, turn the light off. Fine. I can live with that. . ..barely. What about the room that you are actually IN? Why are you sitting in the dark in that room? And it’s not an occasional thing, it’s an all-the-time thing. It just seems like you’re trying to hide something. Or hide from something.
But not only that: say I’m in the living room, and the kitchen light is off, in my peripheral vision there is a whole section that is dark, and it really bugs me. I like the light. It’s a personal preference, and my preference is to have light. Okay, honey?
I also keep the water running when I brush my teeth. Maybe I shouldn’t. Try and stop me.
Earlier in the evening, I had another opportunity to practice my customer service skilz. I answered the phone. I can’t reproduce much of that conversation. . .most of it was "Huh? Excuse me? I’m sorry? I can hardly hear you?" The gist of it was, they wanted to order a pizza and pick it up. At once I could hear them, and again I couldn’t. I realized I was talking to at least 2, maybe 3 teenage or preteen girls. They wanted a large pizza "With all the toppings," and they were going to come pick it up.
I just know, okay? Like I said, it’s hard to convey the entire conversation, but I heard enough to know. After trying to be reasonable with them ("Look, I need to speak to just one person, and every one else needs to get off the phone") I finally said, "Maybe you need to call a different pizza place, one that’s full of suckers. I’m not buying it, okay? Did you want to try again, or just call someone more gullible? Because we’re aren’t going to make a pizza for you."
They hung up.
Amazingly, after 20+ years of doing this, I have pretty much seen everything. And yet–I feel pretty certain I have more yet to experience.
See, that kind of thing just irritates me. Was not every Lethal Weapon a remake of the first one? What’s the point of the Die Hard franchise? Or Austin Powers? Well, the point is, entertainment.
Maybe "large monster terrorizes city" has been done to death (haha–"to death"–I kill me); that doesn’t mean it can’t be done again if you have a new idea for a fresh approach.
And that’s what this: a new idea, and a fresh approach. The point of it is that the characters happen to have a video camera when the attack happens, and they record everything. This adds to the sense of realism. This same style could be used to approach other–
Wait. Wow. that would be something.
An Alien invasion ala War of the Worlds, but this time kill Tom Cruise early in the movie and hand a video camera to a key grip. It’s a winner on several fronts.
Or take any chick flick, but give the camera to the male lead, so that while all the sappy talking and connecting and crap is going on, the camera is pointed at the chick’s tits. There would be more voyeur shower scenes also. I guess there’s a fine line between realism and amateur porn.. .
You could even do a scary movie that way, where it’s like a group of students doing an investigation or something into an old legend about a witch or a haunting, and have them camp out in a state park and pretend to get lost in the woods and freak out–
Wait. That’s been done.
But he was drunk yet polite, and asked if one of us could perhaps give him a ride home. He explained where he lived, and it wasn’t far. It was also the direction The Dude goes. But I also know how he is. The Dude has severe anxiety about most things; the rest he is merely paranoid about. I made the calculation about my time versus the amount of karma this would earn me, balanced against "Man’s body found in ditch; last scene picking up hitchhiker."
He offered to pay for gas as well. His trip, honestly, wasn’t worth any gas money, even by today’s hyper fuel prices. His house was less than a quarter mile away, but he insisted. His name was Christopher. We drove across the street to the mini-mart. He wanted to fill up my tank, and I protested. That was way to much. How am I supposed to balance my fucking karma if he pays me for doing this? I said, "Five bucks." He said ten. I said okay. I start to pump as he goes in, meanwhile calculating that if at any point he tries to screw me, I can pay for my gas. I was, in fact, on Elmer, and I intended to fuel up anyway. He pokes his head out of the door of the store and yells, "Get fifteen!"
Fine. Whatever. If he kills me and steals my car, he’ll get farther. Nigel gets 35 mpg. My concern was, if he did dump my body, I wanted to grab my flash drive first. All of my creative work is on it, and I wanted to make sure it was with me; otherwise it would be lost forever, and posterity would be denied my–
Oh, crap–15.27. I need to pay attention.
I go in the store to cover my ass. If he was going to bolt without paying, I would be the one busted. In the store, I stand near the door and quietly observe the late Saturday night scene. My patron is friendly and talking with everyone. He asks me if I want some coffee, then gets a chilled Starbucks from the cooler. Although he is drunk and came from the neighborhood dive, I piece together some clues that he isn’t the typical white trash idigenous to this area. For one, he smells nice. He is groomed, shaven. No holes in his pants. Chilled coffee? What a pretentious–
He pays for everything–including a pack of cigarellos for me–with a gold card, all the while chatting with the clerk in an upbeat manner. We leave. I drive to his house, and he shuts up not once. He tells me that he is actually retired–at 38–but started working again because it was driving him batshit. Yeah, that’s the only reason I work also. The whole reason he needed a ride is because his wife is at home with a newborn, and he didn’t want her to have to come out in the cold to get him. He was about to call a cab when he saw me.
We get to his house, and I believe most of his story; besides, being drunk is like truth serum, innit? It’s a nice neighborhood, which I knew already. His house is probably in the 200-225k range, very nice. A big SUV and a newer Mustang in the driveway. I should have let him fill my tank. I watch him go to door. I figured it was my responsibility, after all; he was kind of my date.
My first thought is to bitch and moan about my station in life. I’m dirt poor–hell, I’d love to be just poor, rather than up to my eyeballs in debt–working three jobs, driving a 15 year old beat up car. Worried about ending up homeless, blah, blah blah…
But I didn’t feel that way. My rider was gracious and appreciative, and managed to make me feel good. One guy, doing another guy a solid. I drove home happy.
My friend The Dude, in an earnest desire to make me more informed about the world around me, referred me to a website which contained "Intelligence Briefs." No, I’m not going to give you the site–think of it as me slapping the Weekly World News out of your hands when you start to quote it as actual news.
The Dude tells me, according to this site: Henry Paulson, the Secretary of the Treasury, was shot in the chest and killed sometime around Christmas. He was shot, of course, because he wasn’t doing "what he was told to do" about the economy as directed by–well, that part is cryptic, or else I wasn’t paying attention. NWO people, I guess. Or the Shadow government.
He also said that at GW Bush’s ranch in Texas, while the fam was spending the holiday at Camp David, the Russian mob kidnapped GW’s favorite horse–worth 350k–cut off it’s head and left it in GW’s bed.
And of course, GH Bush, the senior, was arrested and held for several days, relating to some scandal involving TRILLIONS of dollars. Not millions. Not billions. Not even Ga-zillions. Trillions.
And none of this is in the news, of course, because the media is "afraid" to report it.
In the same way the "9-11 Truthers" (these are the ones who believe it was a conspiracy and a controlled demolition–and by the way, The Dude is one of these) believe that all credible scientists and engineers with the proof to denounce their ridiculous claims are either afraid of "The Government," or paid off by them to remain silent about the "truth." That puts the truthers in a unique, special category: Only they are BRAVE ENOUGH to tell the truth. Too bad none of them are mechanical engineers.
But then…where are the reprisals, death threats, and outright murders of these brave truth-tellers?
Well, of course, everything you read on the internet is true, right? Legitimate news sources and responsible journalism can’t compete with the lies, fiction, and outright fantasy created by paranoid stoners living in their parent’s basement with internet access and a website. These people seek each other out, use each other as "sources," and claim legitimacy thereby. It’s very much like two stoners who hear something, and make each other more and more paranoid by what they imagine they heard. In fact, it’s exactly like that.
A friend of mine today sent me proof that Paulson was still alive (he appeared on three morning shows) because I had five bucks riding on it. Now, this proof may not be good enough for The Dude–this is the mainstream media after all, and they are in on the hoax.
Not everything in this world is a conspiracy. The new world order thing? yeah, I kind of think so. I mean, it is what "They" are headed for, whomever "they" are. But it’s not so much a conspiracy as it is an open secret. It won’t be the way the black helicopter people envision it, but it’s headed that way.
And that’s the thing: The world is a much more complicated place than you can imagine, even if you know it’s a complicated place. A conspiracy theory is a way to both simplify the world give you a sense of control over it. Meaning, if you KNOW of the conspiracy, you are one the special ones, one of the elite informed–and you have an edge.
It’s a way of getting a grasp on things. There is a thing called "True Believer Syndrome"–look it up. I believe it is a mental illness.
Sure, there are improprieties in the 9-11 attacks. What did we know, when did we know it? How much did we know? Could we have stopped it? It’s much more complicated than saying "we did it ourselves." That simplifies it, makes the world an easier place to understand. You know that 9-11 was the most thoroughly studied and examined event in human history. Records, hearings, everything. A little impropriety like several hundred (yes, several hundred) people being in on a conspiracy, planting explosives, taking a jet out of the air and replacing it with a missile–all of these things are a little to big to just cover up.
Do you have any idea, morons, how much explosives would have had to have been planted in the building to make it a "controlled demolition"? Fucking uneducated retarded fuckheads. Because you disagree with the administration, you are right and they are evil, therefore they are capable of anything in your mind.
Well, we backed Osama, and created him. Yeah, that was 30 years ago, to fight the Russians because we had a common enemy. We didn’t know that he would turn on us. He was probably plotting it then, even while he took our money and weapons and training. Does that mean we have an alliance with him now?
I had a friend in 4th grade who is now a dangerous, murderous felon. We used to steal cigarettes together. Are we friends today?
Is there a conspiracy to make us all apart of a one-world government? Probably. What can you do about it? Not much. It’s not a government thing so much as it is a corporate thing. It’s not a conspiracy as such, it’s just the normal progression. Businesses want to profit. They see a way to do it oversees. They go. They want the rules on them to ease up. They apply money and pressure to that end. The governments change, the rules change, the goals change. People, governments, businesses, and other entities are looking at the world as a giant risk game–how do I survive this? They make deals that are less than moral, they make unsavory alliances as the pragmatic means to an end. It’s not a conspiracy–that simplifies it way to much. It’s survival. . .short term, without looking at the long term circumstances.
I am actually more willing to believe that there is a conspiracy involving UFOs and aliens. . .there is some credible evidence for that. Now, having said that…Do I believe in an X-Files type scenario, where an elite and hidden group is negotiating with the aliens for something? Well, dude, we just don’t know.
Like these secret organizations–Bildergbergs and so forth. I think they are what they actually say they are: Exclusive clubs. However, sometimes important things happen from contacts made their. It’s called networking. If a civil war breaks out or the dollar falls because of a deal made. . .that’s just the law of unintended consequences. Things happen. And then because of that, other things happen, things which cannot be foreseen or predicted. People will react in different ways to different things on different days.
Are we heading into a recession, a depression? Many people think so. And just thinking it is likely to make it so. What’s the cause? George Bush as President? The Iraq war? Not only is that not probable, it’s highly unlikely. But people who can’t balance their own checkbook are going to blame him because the media and conventional wisdom does. The cause(s) of a recession are highly complicated, and involve many aspects, not just one. I am a smart guy, an engineering student, I understand most things. But not economics. But I do know this: You cannot point to one thing and say, "There it is! That’s what caused it! Fix that, and it will all go away." There are many complex and inter-related things, locally, nationally, globally, that come into play. I will bet you 10 dollars that you don’t understand them. Because you don’t. Don’t even try. I’m smarter than you, and I know that I don’t. At least I’m smart enough to know that. The president didn’t cause it, and the president can’t fix it. It’s cycle. It was bound to happen. Eventually it will end. It’s very complicated, and this is the world we live in.
I recommend storing some canned food and growing a garden. And stop believing everything you read. Except this.
At the very least, I suppose: I can say that my new job delivering pizza for Domino’s Pizza gives me credibility. . .
Because this blog is called "Riding In Cars With Pizza," but many of you reading may not dip into the archives to see my stories about my time spent riding in cars with pizza so you may think that "Riding In Cars With Pizza" is just a clever name, not something I have actually done. But I have done it. I have ridden in several cars with many thousands of pizzas. I’ve done it all.
The looming apocalypse on the horizon has forced me to get yet another second job, aka my third job. In terms of importance and priority, it definitely comes in last.
Last night was my first night there.
Smell is a big memory stimulator. A flood of memories came back to me as I entered. Home is the place where, no matter how disfunctional everyone is, they’ll welcome you back as one of their own, because misery loves company. I was home.
Let’s take a tour of the store. Dina–Deena?–is the manager. Early to mid 30s (or a not-well aged late 20s), thin, brown hair. Probably cute, but definitely not flaunting it at work. She’s a bit laid back. The whole operation makes me feel like I’m in Arkansas. She has three young daughters who look to be between 6 and 10. They are in the back playing and staying out of the way. I would not have been shocked to find chickens roosting in the back, or a goat up front eating hay. A store in general takes it’s cues and personality from the manager, and what I learned from the store tells me much about Dina. It’s like snooping through her medicine cabinet and peeking in her underwear drawer. I’m a helluva amateur psychologist.
This store services one of the more affluent neighborhoods in the St Louis area: Chesterfield, Town and Country, Ladue. These are rich neighborhoods. And then there is this shitty hole-in-the-wall Domino’s Pizza. I was awestruck by the dichotomy. We are…the bastard son of available services.
I met a few drivers. Mike, for one. He seems like a lifer. He has the grizzled, road-weary attitude of one who has seen all manner of excess in living–large houses, fancy cars, trophy wives–and is unimpressed with your two dollar tip, you cheapskate. I came back from a run, and the MIT (Manager in Training) Chris was on the phone. There were pies coming out and orders to make. I jumped on the oven, took care of it, and then started making pizzas, to Chris’ surprise.
I told him if we got busy I could help. I didn’t let on to Mike, because he might have thought his job was in jepoardy (Dude, the last thing I want is your job), but I told Chris I had done this before. I didn’t tell him how much I had done it. (Because no matter how you say it, it comes out snarky–or maybe it’s just me. "What were you doing in 1986?" "I was in third grade." "I was doing this.")
But then Mike comes in from a run, takes over the oven. He testily remarks that "We" need to keep the cut table clean and organized. Whatever, dude. First of all, you’re neither a supervisor nor my wife. Secondly, you weren’t in here and I had other shit to do. Lastly, If you’ve every experienced a real rush, you’d know you clean up afterwards, not during. Get over yourself.
I said, "We had alot going on, Mom." Actually I didn’t, but that was my tone. I did tell him what happened–which, from the state of things, it was obvious. If I had had another few minutes–but I didn’t. I did important things instead. Maybe it was his attempt to express dominion over me, as the driver with seniority.
Now THAT would be funny. But I’m sure he’ll warm up to me, because everyone likes me.
The other driver, a chap named "Myron" of all things–started about the same time I got hired. He’s in real estate. Came in wearing a suit, and changed into his uniform. He seems like a nice guy, but completely out of his element here.
Okay. So this is a pretty slow store. Or slow right now–it’s should pick up. Chris said Dina doesn’t bonus, which means the store doesn’t profit (or profit enough to pass all the hurdles required to give the manager a bone), and I’m sure it’s a joy to be here for salary and nothing else. I know, I’ve done it a few times.
Much of the business we do have is carryout–these rich fucks will come in and pick up their pizza. I imagine if I started teabagging all the carryouts, there would be fewer of them. Logically that would lead to more deliveries. Right? So I’m there for about 3 1/2 hours, and take six runs. ~~sigh~~
Here’s the breakdown. The first one was to the neighborhood right behind us. By the way, I received no "training," just, "Your run’s up." So–big houses, rich people. Three bucks.
The next one was the same. The guy remarked how impressed he was that I got their so quickly. A buck and half. I did get a view of his,wife, and she was cute. I wanted to ask her what it was like being married to a small-dicked asshole while I teabagged her. I didn’t do that, but they are on the list.
Next run, a unique individual like the others, three bucks. After that, an apartment. Odd. I thought this town was too expensive for apartments. I asked Mike if we had a map of the complex. He said no. I think he didn’t want to help me. He’s on the list too.
I get to the complex and turn in. The numbers are above the door, and the light is no where near there. I squint and see the sequence, and continue driving. I get to the end, and it’s 13420 (or something like that). I need 13412. I call on my handy-dandy cell phone. This part is better–the last time I delivered, I didn’t have this. She tells me where it is, right around the back. Oh. I get out and go. Cute young chick–early 20s.
Oh, shit. The order says it’s a charge, and I don’t have the receipt. I said, "Well, unless you really NEED a copy, I don’t have to come back, unless the manager says I have to. Is that okay?" Sure. But no tip, and no mention of adding one. Fuck. I get back and tell Chris, so we look it up. It was denied. That makes me feel better–it means I didn’t lose it. He calls the customer, and they try another card before they decide to pay with a check; guess who gets to go back.
At least I know where to go. I get there, and she hands me a check which I am sure is going to bounce. 16 bucks for 14.44 tab. That’s 1.56. It’s funny how good you become at math when you work for tips. She is now on the list.
When I come back from that is when we are busy and the aforementioned crap happens. I end up with a double out of that, my first. The first one is going to a hotel by the highway. According to the map–
Mike was no help, oddly enough. I end up calling the customer, and he’s from out of town, so he has no idea where he is. I have him give me the hotel phone number and I call them. They give me direction which are confusing and complicated. . .this is where my experience kicks in, and I find it with no trouble. It’s a very swanky Mariot, and I park right at the front door. Hazards and a cartop are like an all-access pass. Fifth floor, three bucks. Then I have to find my way to the other run.
By the way, this is just from looking at the map back at the store; I don’t have anything with me. All from memory. I find the house easily, and a teenager in a 758 thousand dollar house gives a twenty for a 15 dollar pizza, keep the change. I curse the affluent but take his money.
I get back to the store and the "rush" is over. Me and Chris chat, as I check out, and then I ask if I can borrow a pizza. It’s a pretty loose operation, I figure I’m good. I just don’t want to take advantage too much.
I’m leaving, and Mike comes back with a couple of fountain sodas. He explains that the Mobil station next door gives us free sodas–just be in uniform. Hey. Cool. I stop there on my way out.
Ashley is the sweet girl working there. I introduce myself, and we chat while I get a soda. Either she is genuinely interested in what I have to say, or she is supremely bored and looking for any entertainment. I’m guessing it’s number 2.
I explained myself, my life, and my current situation as briefly as I can. She says, "Well, you know–I used to work at Imo’s (pizza) a while back. I’m sure I’ll end up working there again. It’s a cycle."
Uh. . .The Circle of Life?
My thought was this: I told someone I had worked in over two dozen stores. Wow, that’s alot. Some don’t exist any more. So.. .have I? Let’s enumerate. Continue Reading Beautiful Loser…
And we have had some money issues in the restaurant. Scott finally took action after being short 120 dollars last Tuesday night. We do everything on the computer, however, there was no form or place to enter the daily cash information. It’s like flying blind; I never had any idea if we were over or short, or what. He could have created a form to fill out on the computer. Instead, he created an excel form and printed it out, and made copies.
It is probably the easiest way. This way I can see the cash over/short. So, since that’s been in play, we’ve never been off more than a dollar. Not bad. Plus, Saturday, Blond Sean (BS) found a check under a cooler for 80 bucks from the night in question. That’s a big chunk of the money, and most of the rest is accounted for from receipts for cash out that Scott himself didn’t take into account.
The reason I got a second second job is because I didn’t want to pick up more hours in this one, only to cut them back again later. And I didn’t want my performance to slack off either. I figured it would be better to spread myself thin; that way, no gets too big of a dose of me.
But according to my timeline, I’ve been at Scooters for nine or ten years. Hell. That’s a while. No wonder I know where everything is.
Then there’s the bank. Our main business is mortgages. We produce a hell of a lot of them–more than anyone else in the STL or KC area. This is in large part due to our Loan Officers. They are the rainmakers. They have connections, they know people, they know how to schmooze. I’ve seen what some of these fuckers make a year, because occasionally one will have a loan that I scan into the file system. They make so much in commission that their entire regular check–a paltry sum–they committ entirely to their 401k. These people are all making well into the six digit range.
Many of these clowns are prima donnas. . .but they do make it happen. All of the rest of us are technically "support staff." They work we do is based on the sales they generate.
There was a row–a difference of opinion–between the CEO and the head of the mortgage division. The long and short of it is the CEO wanted to concentrate on the commercial lending division and grow that. Mortgage is alive and well, let’s grow commercial.
To do that, however, would cut off some of the toes of the mortgage division. Less of a priority on financing, higher rates. Other technical things that I am aware of but can’t explain well. Because of this, our head of mortgage quit. He got an offer from a competitor. An odd one. This is not a competitor per se: they do investments and so forth, like Edward Jones (but I’m not naming companies, and it’s not Edward Jones). They don’t do mortgages. Yet.
They hired our guy to build the mortgage division. Nation-wide. Maybe this is a good move; it seems like a gamble to me. This is the exact wrong market condition to open a mortgage company, when others are closing left and right. I’m no expert. But I am a thinker. ….
Shortly after that, the guy under him "got the call." He quit. People were starting to get scared now. Rumors were flying, futures were seeming to be uncertain. There was a meeting to quiet the fears. Not sure how well it worked. The guy under that guy is Chris, a fellow I know from Domino’s from the past. Under him is Kim, my best friend.
The two top spots above Chris were open. He could move up one, but not two. He moved up one. Then the CEO called upon Matt, the guy heading KC, and he was "promoted" to be in charge of STL and KC. I am, as we speak, scanning the file for the home he purchased here in the St Louis area. It’s a 400,000 dollar house. I’m in the wrong–
I’m in the wrong fucking world. I’m not a dumbass. But I’m working three jobs to barely get by? Motherfuck anyway. I just. . .fuck me. What’s it take? Huh? What’s it take?
So all of this has been since October or so. Then, one by one. a few other people leave. People who "got the call." People who the real go-getter–the first one who left–thought were the best ones to add to this superstar team he was building. Someone remarked, "I wonder how Chris and Kim feel about not "Getting the call"? Who’s to say they didn’t, but turned them down? I should ask Kim. . .
Everytime one or two people would leave, it would start the rumor mill going again. But Friday–Friday was the big one. Four LO’s–four rainmakers–resigned.
And took fifteen other people with them.
People were walking around, gathering, and talking. Usually a sign that something is up, but I didn’t notice. My computer faces away towards the wall, I’m scanning and listening to the radio with my headphones on. I live my life oblivious.
I get up for some reason and happen to see what’s going on. Everyone is speaking in hushed tones, and seem to shut up when I draw near. Are they talking about me? If not, why are they so quiet? Why is this a secret for everyone to know but me?
Eventually I find out a little. A very little. It’s almost three, time to go. Today I heard they had a meeting about it around 4 oclock. After I leave, of course.
I talk to some of the young people in "the pit" that I work in–instead of individual cubes, we have a big section with cube walls for all eight of us, because we do similar work. They do, anyway. It seems my work is different from theirs and requires little human interaction. A fucking monkey could my job. I realized that long ago, and grudgingly accepted it. However, this morning I had an epiphany:
For a monkey to do my job, there are special considerations. A trainer or someone to watch him, and special facilities would require remodelling, not to mention permits within the city limits, and there might be some insurance or liability issues.
Yes, a monkey could do my job. The only reason I continue to do this is because, at this point, I remain cheaper than a monkey. There is not much that is better for a person’s self esteem than knowing you are more cost effective than another primate.
So I leave for the day. Before I do, I talk to the other people in the pit. I said, "Listen, I just want to say that–I hope if the building is ever on fire, someone will tap me on the fucking shoulder and let me know. No one ever tells me shit. At any given moment, I have no idea what the fuck is going on. Can you do that for me? Please?" I left.
So, these are the choices: I can stay here. Or I can get a new job. Well, that’s simple. Honestly, I may at one point be forced into a new job, via an impersonal layoff. I swear to God I don’t need much money, but I do need just slightly more than I have.
If I stay here, I still have to work all the extra jobs. But I do get great benefits and holidays and so forth. Plus, I’m paid more than this job is worth by about 4 bucks an hour. It leaves me little free time ("What do you need that for, Dude?")
Getting a new job is a scary prospect, but I’ve done it before. All I really need is decent money, decent benefits, decent hours. I’m not asking too much, am I? I guess ultimately I’d like to not work a second job, and be able to write and perform instead to supplement my income. Some regular freelance writing for pay would be ideal to the point of giving me wood. Is it possible? Is it likely? Can I make it happen?
As I said before, I like it here. But I am not challenged at all. In fact, what is the opposite of "challenged"? Plus I barely seem to be getting by, and my self-esteem . . . has left.
So I can see what’s available here, or look elsewhere. Maybe a little of both.
Oh. Lord. World Peace. There’s a great idea. Of course, the problem with world peace is that there are people in the world. It’s not going to happen. Here are some things you can do to be a flower child of the new millennia. Good luck with that. I got this list of brilliant ideas from
I’m sure they mean well. But I live in the real world.
- Be generous with your smiles. But brush your teeth first.
- Be kind. What kind?
- Respect the Earth. Good idea. After you fuck it, tell it you still respect it.
- Walk in a forest. Watch out for bears.
- Plant a tree. So you have something to live in when you’re homeless.
- Contemplate a mountain. Yeah. Think about a mountain. Imagine a mole hill, then make it grow.
- Protect the Earth. Hire it a body guard.
- Live simply. Being homeless is a good start.
- Help feed the hungry. I’m hungry. Buy me a cheeseburger.
- Erase a border in your mind. And while you’re at it, try bending a spoon with your mind too.
- Teach peace to children. Teach them that letting themselves get walked on is very peaceful.
- Read Chief Seattle’s Letter to the President. Because a disgruntled Indian a hundred years ago is relevant in today’s world.
- Be honest. Honestly–this is a recipe to get your retarded ass kicked.
- Demand honesty from your government. Because they will tell you everything.
- Think about consequences. Like the consequences of trying to get honesty from your government.
- Commit yourself to nonviolence. Because no one will take advantage of that.
- Support nonviolent solutions to global problems. If there were any. But there aren’t.
- Speak up for a healthy planet. Get it a regular check up.
- Demand reductions in military expenditures. Because no one will take advantage of that, either.
- Be fair. But this is pretty subjective. Fair to you isn’t fair to everyone else, is it? Is that fair?
- Pledge allegiance to the Earth and to its varied life forms. And to the republic for which it stands. . . .
- Think for yourself. Even though you have to be told to do this by a nitwit socialist professor.
- Ask questions. Why?
- Recognize your unique potential. Because you are unique. Just like everyone else.
- Join an organization working for peace. Like the US Marines.
- Be less materialistic. And give me all of your stuff.
- Be more loving. There’s a fine line between "being more loving," and being a pervert.
- Empower others to work for peace. Offer up other empty platitudes and phrases to add meaning to your life.
- Oppose all weapons of mass destruction. And kill people if they disagree with you.
- Support equality. More for some than for others.
- Speak out for a nuclear weapons-free world. Because logically, everyone in the world thinks like you do and will willingly give up any tactical advantage and trust other countries to do the same. No, really.
- Support a Department of Peace. And make Kumbaya the national anthem.
- Listen to your heart. It’s telling you to dance.
- Help the poor. Give me a dollar.
- Fight against militarism. Because you don’t understand how the world works, things like the military are a bad idea. Who needs protection when everyone loves everyone and we all live in peace and harmony?
- Study the lives of peace heroes. And write a report.
- Help create a community peace park or garden. And grow pot hydroponically.
- Commemorate the International Day of Peace. Because I want another paid holiday.
- Help strengthen the United Nations. Because this corrupt organization is the answer to all the world’s problems.
- Support the International Criminal Court. Because that puts us one step closer to a One world government and New World Order. And we in this country should be judged by the standards of 3rd world backwater countries with little regard for human life and a hatred of the US.
- Read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. And see how even though the US is dragged through the mud with this, more than half the countries of the world are extreme violators.
- Advance the rights of future generations. But do it without a military. Be short-sighted.
- Be a voice for the voiceless. And write other bumper stickers.
- Join an action alert network. So you can be ready with herbal tea and birkenstocks to help further the cause.
- Be forgiving. Unless someone disagrees with you, right?
- Laugh more. Because this shit is funny.
- Play with a child. Good advice, Michael Jackson.
- Support education and the arts over weapons. Give more money to the schools to piss away and indoctrinate the children. Support starving artists. If an artist can’t support himself on his art, he doesn’t need to get a job. His art isn’t crappy. It’s just misunderstood, and we are stupid.
- Help educate the next generation to be compassionate. We can’t teach them to read or write.. .let’s teach them to be pussies.
- Take personal responsibility for creating a better world. Because it’s all my fault. I suffer from the white man liberal guilt.
- Sing. Sing a song. Sing out Loud. Sing out strong. Do kareoke.
- Write a poem. What the world needs is more hack poets. Put it to music and strum it on a guitar in public. It will get you laid.
- Organize a church service on the theme of peace. Better yet, start your own cult.
- Learn about another culture. Or maybe learn about your own.
- Help someone. But be vague about it. Don’t go out of your way.
- Support the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Because corrupt organizations like the UN need more money.
- Oppose the arms trade. Talk about peace but don’t help others try to achieve it.
- Clear your mind. It should be practically empty by now anyway.. . .
- Breathe deeply. Hold it. let it out slowly and try not to cough. Don’t bogart that joint.
- Sip tea. Don’t chug it. And make sure you hold out your pinky.
- Express your views on peace to government officials. Because they love hearing from uninformed hippies wearing hemp.
- Fight for the environment. But I thought you said we should be nonviolent?
- Celebrate Earth Day. Take the day off work.
- Think like an astronaut, recognizing that we have only one Earth. But realize that you’ll never be as smart.
- Be constructive. But in an earth-friendly way. I don’t think I can.
- Let someone else go first. Take sloppy seconds.
- Plant seeds of peace. Hide them in your pot garden.
- Work in a garden. Your pot garden.
- Change a potential enemy into a friend. What about a real enemy? Have any of those? No? Because you love peace? How about all the people you’ve pissed off with your annoying attitude?
- Be positive. Are you sure?
- Share. Give me that.
- Be a good neighbor. State Farm is there.
- Send a note of appreciation. Thank you.
- Tell your friends how much they matter. Do it when you’re drinking so it’s less awkward.
- Say "I love you" more. Okay. "I love you more." Satisfied?
- Don’t tolerate prejudice. Especially from those fucking Dutch.
- Demand more from your elected officials. But be vague, so you can cross it off your list.
- Walk by the ocean, a river, or a lake. Hopefully someone will push you in.
- Recognize that all humans have the right to peace. If you give up that right, anything you say can and will be held against you.
- Respect the dignity of each person. Whether they deserve it or not.
- Be a leader in the struggle for human decency. Does that mean picket porn shops?
- Be a friend. But not to me. You really bug me.
- Send sunflowers to world leaders, and call for a world free of nuclear weapons. Because this will just waste everyone’s time and energy, and probably get you on a terrorist watch list.
- Oppose technologies that harm the environment. Live in a cave, wipe your ass with leaves, and eat bugs.
- Lose an argument to a loved one. Easy to do if you’re a man. Can a woman do this?
- Value diversity. Because it’s all pink on the inside.
- Walk softly on the Earth. Because the Indians can hear you.
- Appreciate the power of the sun. Wear sunblock.
- Speak out for global disarmament. Eventually, if enough people hear you, someone will be smart enough to shoot you in the head.
- Support a democratic order. Because even morons should have a voice in how things are run.
- Teach non-violence by example. And if they don’t listen, beat the crap out of them.
- Remember that "No man is an Island." But if you tie enough of them together, you can make a raft.
- Spend time in nature. But you’ll lose your cell signal.
- Boycott war toys. Because children shouldn’t have fun.
- Be thankful for the miracle of life. But you’re probably pro-abortion, right?
- Seek harmony with nature. Take a shit in the woods.
- Remind your leaders that peace matters. They will respect you enough to wait until you are gone to laugh behind your back.
- Oppose violence in television programming for children. Fight for it, if you have to.
- Listen to Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. On your ipod. No one wants to hear that shit.
- Celebrate peace. Have a wild party that ends in a big bar fight.