I Am The Walrus

August 28, 2008 at 10:07 PM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | 1 Comment
  I was most of the way through creating some exceptionally brilliant prose when the power flashed briefly, and it disappeared.  So, you’ll just have to take my word for it.  I rebooted and began again–and the power went off again.  This time for about half an hour or more.
  The simplest things make people happy.  No power=no work=happiness.  I said I would send out an email and let everyone know there was no power.  Hahaha.  Everything is funnier when there’s no power.  Then we heard word that there was no power across the street at the main building either, and a transformer blew.  Then we heard that there were people trapped in the elevator. 
  Traditionally you might think that’s a bummer, but my thought–which I said out loud–was, "That would be a great place for a web-cam!"  We contemplated how long we would have to stay before calling it a day–I was ready to go home.  Then the power came back on, and there was a collective slumping of shoulders.  Everyone silently went back to work.
  Except–we still have no network connectivity.  All the programs we use and all the data we access are on network servers.  As we speak, tehy are working to resolve these issues.  E’en now, I contemplate going home early, as there is nothing I can do.

  So back to the task at hand.  Let me try to recreate the original.  Oh, I’m going to hit "save" first.

  Like Lenin said…Follow the money.

  In the 2 1/2 weeks since I’ve become an assistant manager, I’ve gotten into a routine.  That makes it easier.  The first week was hard, it was an adjustment.  Besides the work and the amount of hours and the stress and the crap, it was also three days in a row (W-Th-F) of working my day job then going in at night.  By Friday, I was pretty much spent.
  But since then, I’ve been working the night job M-W-F, which is easier, and gives me a break in between my short nights.  I can work essentially 70 hours per week and still have off Saturday or Sunday.  I was a little excited to be going in last night, because this week I was going to get my first paycheck as an assistant with more hours and a theoretically higher pay rate.  It would soon be time to see if the fruits of my labor would thrill my loins.
  So I waltzes in, and Stan is working.  He said, "Don’t clock in yet; I need to fix something."  Well, that’s always good.  I go change and come out, and we have to make about 20 pizzas pretty quick for a big order.  Then Stan is on the phone and on the computer trying to straighten out the receipt for that order, because it’s an accounts receivable deal.  Then he’s done, and he finishes up the other thing, and then he says, "Okay, I clocked you in and changed your time."
  "So, what was the deal?"
  He motioned me into the tiny office and closed the door.  I can’t quote him directly, because he runs on and I don’t have that kind of patience.  The gist of if is, The franchise pwner feels more strongly than the supervisor felt about my salary:  I was making too much.  Obviously, they have no idea as to the quality of my work, or how much I *really, really care* about the company.  But only full-time assistants are worthy of the paltry sum I sought.  He feels someone should have "both feet in or both feet out."  I wasn’t going to do the hokey pokey with him, however. 
  So my fate–my punishment for not fully committing to them–was that my pay should be fiddy cents less.  Stan said before I could react, that Dina’s solution to this was to simply pad my time the appropriate amount to make up for this.  I grabbed the calculator.  I worked about 28 per week.  Times 50 cents, that’s 14 bucks.  That’s about an hour and a half, give or take.
  It’s not so much about the money as it is about the principle of the thing.  But the principle of the thing is the money, and what I am worth.  I have a bottom line to meet.  As long as I hit that…At that point, I just felt resigned to it.  At least, at this rate, they won’t expect as much from me and I don’t have to go to any meetings.  Honestly, I’d still like to talk to one of these suits in person, but of course there are buffers and barriers between myself and someone of their station.  It’s just as well; I feel whatever I said would fall on deaf ears whilst I beat the crap out of them.  I have a rich fantasy life.

  Having launched this shift in a happy, happy mood, I now got to deal with the customer.  We have these regulars that come in, named Bob.  I don’t know their real names, and I don’t care.  I call each one of them Bob.  They’re fucking old and deaf anyway.  There’s about four to six of these assholes, these fucking old guys that won’t call and order for delivery.  And they won’t call and order for a pickup.  They want to come in and then order, and then wait.
  So this one Bob comes in, and I take his order.  He’s a sarcastic fucker.  "Are you going to get it right this time?" he asks.  What is that shit supposed to mean?  "Did I get it wrong last time?"  He shrugs it off, doesn’t answer.  Dickhead.  But here’s what the crusty fucker orders.  A large thin.  Half with no sauce.  On the half with no sauce, mushrooms and black olive.  On the the other half, pepperoni,  Onion and *light* bacon on the whole thing.  That’s the order, but that’s not the way he orders it.  Perhaps because he is confused, he orders it with something less than clarity.
  So I’m making his stupid pie, and as I begin to load it in the oven, he’s standing there, at the counter, watching.  He said, "Where’s the pepperoni?"  Oh.  Well, shit.  No problem.  As I turn back to the makeline to add pepperoni to it, there is an exchange between Stan and the old fuck.  I didn’t hear it, which is probably a good thing because I could have easily killed the fucking old guy.
  And in a situation like that, I don’t think the charge of "murder" is necessarily appropriate.  I mean, it should be pro-rated.  He’s got to be 80, or close to it.  He’s going to die soon anyway.  I’d say a fine of, say fifty bucks, similar to that of parking in a handicapped spot.  Which, ironically, would free up a parking spot if I killed him.  But it would totally be worth fifty bucks to hear his brittle bones snapping when I drop-kick his ass.
  Stan gently suggests to me that I just remake the whole pizza.  This much more logical than just adding pepperoni to half of this one.  I realize my headache is from my eyes constantly rolling in my head.  I remake the pizza.  The old fuck stands there and watches.  To make sure.  And then he sits down when I load it. 
  You know how much I hate being watched when I make food.  I know I made a mistake, but it was because he was watching me in the first place.  If he would have just sat down, I would have made it right.  I know I would have.  I don’t need a fucking backseat goddamn driver on the makeline.  And I don’t need a fossilized condescending fuckhead shaking his head at my incompetence when it was his overly judgmental ass that caused this in the first place.  I’m sure the pizza is for him and his wife, and that’s too bad.  For her sake I’d hope that she was dead and free from that overbearing control freak asshole.  She’s probably just alive because he won’t let her die.  Bastard.
  Oh, I’m bitter?  You think?
  Shortly after that, we slow down, and I check Myron out.  I’m going to stand by my original assessment of him, going by my gut reaction to his subliminal aura:  I think he’s a pedophile.  Definitely a pervert of some kind.  He has hair, but other than that he reminds me of Uncle Fester, from the Adams Family.  Seriously. 
  So, I’m checking him out, and his total comes to 18.22.  I give him 18.  He’s counting in his head and on his fingers, because he thinks it should be more.  I clear the ten-key and go over it again, using approximations, because I want to make sure we’re in the right ballpark.  Same thing.  18.60.
  He says, "Well, it should be 19, so just give me 19."
  I honestly have a bewildered look on my face.  "No.  Your total is 18.  You get 18."
  He tried this rounding shit before.  A week ago his total came out to 21.40.  He pulled out a pocketful of change, and gave me a dime.  He said, "That’s how it works, right?  At fifty cents you round up."
  "Not if you have a pocketful of change I don’t.  Give me fifty cents, or you get nothing."  What a penny-ante cheapskate skinflint tightwad bullshit artist.  He huffed and gave me the change, and I gave him a dollar.
  Now, he said, "But it’s 18.60."
  "Myron, you didn’t see what I did.  I rounded, just because I wanted to make sure we were in the right ballpark, because you thought you were short.  Your total is 18–18.22.  I’m not going to cheat you out of a dollar.  But if you don’t believe me and make me count it again, I will charge you dollar.  Your choice."
  I’ve seen his type before.  They push and push for every little nickel, looking for an opening to see what they can get away with.  It’s always only about them.
  I don’t like him.

  Much later, and we’re dead.  Me and Kirby closing.
  I try to read.  Kirby will not shut up and will not go away and will not leave me alone for two goddamn seconds.  Fuck.  I like him, though.  He won’t sit still.  He’s shorter than I am, stocky, a few years younger.  Grey hair.  What’s up with that?  I think grey makes you look older than bald does.  I hope.
  I met his new wife, newly pregnant.  She’s nice.  I got to feel her belly, and she felt mine.
  Kirby brought in some bourbon to spike our Cokes with.  We sat outback, and had a cigar.  We talked about our respective karate kareers.  He and his brother and his dad had all taken it, in the past.  All blackbelts.  Maybe they were, maybe they weren’t.  But they looked as out of shape as I was, so who’s to say?
  We also talked about college and all the sex we had when we were younger.  And then…Kirby said something, told me a story.  I can’t tell you what it is, but honestly–between that and what I know about his brother–is it just those two, or are all men like that?  I don’t think I’m like that.  I mean, I talk shit, but I just couldn’t do that.  Are we like that?
  No orders for over an hour, and the place is clean.  Just waiting on the clock to finish the deposits and run the reports.  Four minutes till close–
  –The phone rings.
  Yeah, one call does it all.  One phone call changes everything.  Instead of leaving at 1207, I left at almost 1a.  Get home about 130, in bed by 2a, because I still need some time to wind down.  Time to play B sides.  Time ain’t on my side.  But doing this, putting up with the bullshit, and not bitching (I mean, not there.  After the fact–here–doesn’t count.) and taking orders right before close without complaint is worth more than they think it is.  I’m not getting rich here.  Not even close. 
  Since the only thing they respect is money, that is the gauge whereby I measure whether or not they respect me.  So far, it ain’t much.

I Can’t Get No–

August 26, 2008 at 1:19 AM | Posted in Journal | 1 Comment
  I learned something about myself the other day.
  I learned that I am much more introverted than I originally thought.  And I thought about it alot, because that’s what introverts do.
  I mean, I like people.  Sometimes.  Not all the time and definitely not for a long time.  People are best in small doses.  If I can’t make them tired of me and make them want to leave, obviously something is wrong with them.
  When I am around people, I’m a fun-loving, easy-going, gregarious fellow.  Life of the party, center of attention, et cetera.  But no one knows that when I’m by myself I’m actually kind of shy and withdrawn…
  I guess you could say I’m a closet introvert.

  My friend Serena–the Korean chick–was having car trouble.  I agreed to help her, which was my first mistake.  But after hearing what a shop charges her (and she takes it, she just takes it!), I figured I could help her, charge her a small fee, and we’d both make out ahead.
  Or I could just do it for free, which was her plan.
  Saturday she calls me in the middle of the afternoon.  "I’m picking up the stuff now from Auto Zone–"
  "Whoa, whoa, whoa!"
  "–And then I’ll be on my–"
  "Hold on, hold on!"
  –Way.  What?"
  I explained that it’s already 2pm, hottest part of the afternoon, going to get hotter.  Can we do it tomorrow morning?  Early?  Okay.  She calls Sunday morning about 7 am.  Well, hell.  Of course I’m sleeping.  She eventually calls back about 930, when I’m up.  She comes over.  Her and Detroit get along, so they chat while I get started.  Front brakes.  Right side, no problem, really.  Of course I did have to drive to my dad’s garage to get the Torx bits.
  I start on the left side, and run into a snag as I’m taking off the wheel.  One of the lug nuts is missing, so there’s only four of the five.  But one of the four is tough to get off.  I decide that when I put it back on, I’ll use a different one, and leave this one empty.  Un-nutted.  I break the other lug nuts, then go back to the tough one, to get it off.  It finally comes off.
  With the bolt inside it.  I twisted it right off.  Oh, yes, I am a big, dumb strong guy.
  I go in the house, and the two chicks are sitting on the couch, chatting away.  I give Serena one of the lug nuts that has a hole in it, and one that is filled with lug bolt.  "Tell me the difference between these," I ask.
  Detroit takes Serena to Auto zone where she can buy another, and I said, "Bring me back some beer.  Six pack.  Bud Light.  Bottles."  Beer is best in a bottle.  Serena objects because she doesn’t want me drinking and working on her car.  I counter with logic.  "It’s a tradition."
  "Whose tradition?"
  "The American Male.  You want me to work on your car or not?"  She continues to give me crap about it.  I pull Detroit aside and tell her, "I’m serious about the beer."
  And I am.  I’m not a big drinker, but it’s a warm day, and I"m outside working on someone’s car other than my own when I could be laying on the couch in my underwear somewhere between lucidity and reality tv.  It’s going to be a pain in the ass already–I can tell–and all the work I’m doing should be worth a blow job yet somehow I doubt it’s going to happen.  Detroit won’t feel obligated because it’s not her car, and Serena won’t feel obligated because she’s a bitch.  Stuck between a rock and a hard-on….
  So at the very least I’m going to drink some beer.  I need a radio out here, dammit.  While they are gone, I finish the other side and get it back together, just waiting for the rest of the lug nuts.
  Now for the hard part.  The plan was, front brake pads and rotors, new spark plugs and wires, and a fuel filter.  Brakes and rotors are done.  I had noticed before that the car was a V-6–I had hoped for a 4 cylinder–and now I examined it more closely.  A tune up on a V-6 with front wheel drive is a bitch.  Why is it a bitch?  Because half of the spark plugs are right in front and easy to get to.  Half.
  The other half are close to impossible.  They are on the backside, between the motor and firewall and all covered with kinds of ridiculous wires, tubes, metal flanges and other sharp yet unidentifiable objects.  There is a small hole that resembles a tooth-filled mouth that I have to stick my hand through while I twist my body in an awkward position in order to reach the plugs.
  First stop, however, is the wires.

  Spark plug wires are supposed to be fairly easy to remove.

  That sentence right there basically describes how I spent the next six hours.  I started in the back because I wanted to do the hard ones first, and finish up on the front with the easy ones.  The back left one was by itself; the middle and the right one were grouped together.  I started on the left.  The wire pulled out easily.
  Leaving the boot attached to the plug.  Well, shit.  But the boot came off easily enough, lending no foreshadowing to the heartbreak that was to come.  I fiddled with the plug for a while trying to get it out, and realized that the metal connector clip was still attached to the plug.  I had been trying to turn it, thinking I was turning the plug, and making progress.  Instead, it was the opposite.  No progress.  I finally got the clip off.
  Plug came out easily, thanks to my dad’s excellent spark plug socket and ratchet.  Replace, and put on a new wire.  On to the next.  Well, that one plug only took about an hour.  To bad I’m not paid by the hour on this job.  Next!
  The next two plugs are together; I chose the right one.  Again the wire pulled out easily, leaving the boot.  The boot would not pull.  I made some trips.  Hopped in the truck and drove up to Al’s–one of my dad’s friends.  I remember that he had a custom made tool for pulling wires.  But he wasnt home.  Dammit.  I call my cousin Joey.  He has no auto tools, but tells me to call his dad, about 30 miles away.  I was hoping for something closer.  I tried to remember the name of dad’s other friend who lived at the bottom of his street.  And what house was it exactly–?  I could knock on a few doors and narrow it down, right?
  I decided to go look in my dad’s garage (my garage) for some tools.  It’s only four blocks away.  I think I made a total of 3 or 4 trips over there.  I came back once with something that did indeed look like a spark plug wire pulling tool.  I tried it.
  It took the top half of the boot out very efficiently, leaving the bottom half still in place.  It Taunted me.  "Come and get me, come and get me."  Bastard.  The next several hours were spent on this boot, and this boot alone.  I found some incredibly inefficient methods for removing it a piece at a time.  I had Serena come out and give it a try as well.  This was mostly to cover my butt:  if she could see for herself how difficult it was, she may hold it against me less if we can’t get it fixed and end up leaving her car in my driveway.  But I doubt it.
  Eventually her boyfriend comes over.  I"m hoping that he has smaller hands than me, but stronger than hers.  Therein may lie the solution to this conundrum.  HE and I try several things, allowing him to get up to speed on it, and then we get his hand stuck in the jaw and let him try for a while.  Meanwhile, my cousin Joey calls me.  Can I run up the street and give his sister–my cousin Barb–a hand moving something?  Sure.  I need to get out and get away from this mechanical hellbeast. 
  I’m dirty, greasy, sweaty.  I’m going to be in pain tomorrow.  My hands are hurt, cut up under the grease, and bruised.  I drive up to my uncle’s house, about a block away, where my cousin Barb is.  She’s cleaning the house, giving it final touches before it officially goes on the market.  I helped her, and we chatted–I was in no hurry.  Then I continued on around the block to see if Al was home yet.  Nope. Shit.
  But I get back home, and now it’s about 430.  We’ve spent a long time on this damn boot.  Serena and I took turns taking it off in frustratingly small pieces before Mark showed up and seemingly accomplished nothing.  But after I left for a bit, they managed to get it off.  Excellent.
  My completely logical idea was this:  Let’s just change the two, and not go after the bitch that the third one will most likely be.  Mark wanted to tackle it.  I gave him this caveat:  Dude, I’m not responsible.  Okay.  He worked on that one while I changed the front three plugs.  Still not even getting the boot off.  However, he didn’t pull the wire out, so it was intact.  Okay, break.
  I convinced him that we should just let it go.  Start it, make sure it runs and that he didn’t damage the wire in any way.  Just…leave ‘er be.  Quit while you’re ahead.  Or not too far behind.  I mean, honest to God, these are just the spark plug *WIRES*.  It should not be that hard.  It should not be this difficult.  The fact that it was makes me doubt what little mechanical ability I have.  I want to cut my losses (in my pride) and get the fuck out before I end up making her car undriveable and she has to leave it here, and then I get to hear about it at work all the next day.  No fucking thanks.
  He relents.  We put it back together, it runs, we put the shit away.  And never did put in the fuel filter.  Someone’s going to find out about that.  Serena was adamant about that part.  Oh, well.  I don’t have to hear it; I’m not fucking her.

  So, here’s the part where I may be an asshole.  Remember, I’m dirty and sweaty, et cetera.  It’s now about 5 or 530 maybe.  I want to take a shower.  I want to take a shower NOW, and then relax in my shorts.  With no guests around.  But we hang out with our guests in the kitchen, chatting. 
  I made a few oblique, subtle references to their imminent departure, which fell on clueless ears.  They wanted to hang out.  And talk.  Maybe this is what friends do?  I don’t get it.  I mean, they were already here all day.  I’m tired of being around them.  Not them in particular, just people.  People who need people are the most pathetic people in the world.  I want some alone time.  Some me time.  I want to sit around in my underwear.  I want to eat dinner.  Fuck.
  So on they stay.  It’s hard to say at this point what was worse:  dealing with the boat or having guests that won’t leave.  Was I trapped in a bad movie?  The hell of it was, this is what I thought I wanted.  I *thought* I wanted friends to come around and hang out.  I thought I wanted to be social, and entertain.  But, as it turns out, I really don’t like people.
  My head starts to hurt, genuinely.  I have a headache.  I was standing in the kitchen, the other three were sitting.  How did I get stuck with no chair?  Who’d been doing all the work today?  Finally, I abandon them, and went to the couch in the living room.  I don’t feel like I exactly tossed Detroit to the wolves….
  It might have seemed rude if I turned the tv on….so I turned the sound completely down.  If they came in, I could turn it off.
  They stayed and talked for a while longer, maybe another half hour, and then got up to leave about 730.  Geez.  *Finally.*  I wasn’t faking it, though.  I did have a headache.  Whether from the houseguests or from not eating, I couldn’t say.  All I know is, after they left, I took a shower and then we ate, and I felt better.  I sat on my couch, in my shorts and nothing else, and finally–at long last–was able to relax.
  So, you know–you can come over any time.  We’re more than happy to have guests.  But next time, I’m setting a timer.

Seems Like Auld Lang Signe

August 20, 2008 at 11:27 PM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | Leave a comment
  I’ve…adjusted…to being a part time assistant manager.  Man, that’s long.  Let’s shorten it up.  A par-ti ass-man.  That’s about right. 
  I took to making pizzas again like a duck takes to cocaine.  The rest of it–?
  Everyone has their management "style," and I have mine.  It came to maturity last night.  We were slow as hell, and I read a book.  What am I gonna do, clean?  That’s humorous.  The restaurant business in general isn’t like this, but far and wide the pizza business is.  Of course there are exceptions, but the statistically, this is how it is: 

    In a pizaa delivery store, 90% of your business is between 5p and 7p.  Of that 90, 50-70% is on Friday between 5p and 7p.  So stop calling and asking where your fucking pizza is.  You know where it is.  It’s on its goddamn way.

  I’m training an FNG, a new assistant.  Explaining things to him allows me to remember stuff.  Stuff like this:  there are three parts to operations:  Prepping for the rush, handling the rush, and cleaning up after the rush.  That’s all there is.  "Handle The Rush" is–or was and should still be–the mantra at Domino’s.  Why, when we had the 30-minute guarantee back in the–
  Oh, jeez, would you *please* shut up.
  But one of the things you do to handle the rush is prep for it, and since everything comes in pre-made, pre-packaged, and pre-chewed, prep doesn’t take very much time unless you’re doing something horribly wrong.  Clean up is the same.  So the job is a dichotomy (man, am I glad I was able to work that high-dollar word in) of blood-shooting-out-of-your-eyes boredom and sweat-and-cardiac-arrest-producing panic…aka The Rush.
  Now of course the bosses don’t want to see you doing nothing.  You should be busy all the time.  Right.  I’m of the school that believes in working smarter, not harder.  If "smarter" means working less, then all the better.
  Obviously, on a Friday night I’m going to work harder.  Might even work my ass off.  But typically on a Monday, 4p to midnight–eight hours–I’m going to do no more than 4 hours worth of work.  Absolute tops would be five.  The problem is, you have to be there the entire eight hours, waiting for those five hours’ worth of work.
  When I was driving there, I was working with Stan.  He’s a nice guy, but a bit off.  Aren’t we all?  But he’s just strange about some things.  On Friday night when we close at 2a, there have been times when I left at 330a, and he’s still there.  Not in a hurry AT ALL.  Fuck.  Man, once we are closed, I want to go home.  He wants to do extra cleaning projects.  Fuck that completely.  I stll have the mentality from when I was a manager.  I was on salary.  My feeling was, anything after close I was essentially doing for free.  I don’t do free.  I am now into my second week as an assistant, and so far the latest I have walked out is 20 minutes after closing.  Usually it’s about 7-10 minutes.  I get done, I don’t fuck around.  The drivers are happy with it too.  We get done, we get out.
  I’m sure it won’t always be that way, but as often as I can I’m going to make it that way.  Especially during the week, when I have to get up early the next day.  Having the down time last night reminded me of the old days, having down time.  There’s plenty to do, but plenty of time to sit around, too.  I ate, read, had a smoke, and then started cleaning up.
  And by the way, if you have time to sit out back and smoke a cigar that takes over twenty minutes, and the phone doesn’t ring at all–
  Well, as I pontificated last night.  If I was the owner or even the manager, being the that slow would be a bad thing, because you want to be busy, you want to be making money.  But I’m paid by the hour regardless of business.  In a purely pragmatic sense, I only want to be busy enough to stay open.
  The fringe benefits of the place are nice, and that’s another reason I like it.  Let’s run them all down, shall we?
  a) like I said, I don’t work too hard
  2) free food.  I usually bring home a pizza every night
  d) that might be it.

  But since I’m easy to please and have had all sense of privilege and expectation beaten from me by my ex wife and other restaurant jobs I’ve had…this is enough.

Tiger In A Spotlight

August 19, 2008 at 1:21 AM | Posted in Journal | Leave a comment
  So, my daughter just had a birthday Friday.  Not quite a teen, but she is in her twelves.  The Fam–them, not me–went on vacation last week, and went to Branson.  For you out-of-towners, Branson is the local vacation destination of choice.  Nestled in the Ozark Mountains, they are about 3 or 4 hours southwest of St Louis down I-44, the old route 66.

  It’s been…
  You know, time wounds all heels.  The pain from the divorce and separation from my children is less now.  It’s been two years since I left, and one year since the divorce was final.  I’ve moved on, they’ve moved on.  That part had been painful for me:  the fact that they’ve moved on.  But they needed to; I didn’t want them–and don’t want them–to be bogged down by the past.  Woulda-shoulda-coulda only causes heartache in the land of Nevermore.
  My ex has adjusted.  She’s independent and strong, and doing things on her own.  Good for her.  My daughter has adjusted–kids are endlessly adaptable.  I see her often and talk to her, and we have finally re-bonded, rebuilt our relationship.  Of course everything is a work in progress.
  My son…doesn’t seem as angry as he was.  Is that a good thing?  Do I have some acceptance from him, or what? 
  This may seem like a completely unrelated topic, but I’ll catch us all back up the next time it swings around on the piano.  You see, I’m psychic.
  My feeling about this is a) first of all, I’m right, because I’m psychic, and 2) my psychic ability is erratic as hell.  Everyone has some level of the very loosely defined set of set senses commonly referred to as psychic ability.  Some are very strong, most are very weak, and many are like me, erratic as hell.  My own ability is loosely strewn in the area between telepathy and empathy.  I can read people.
  It goes just a little beyond being a good judge of character–which I am.  I can tell a lot about someone’s personality, but I can also get good reads from emotional levels as well.  Maybe that’s why I like bitches so much–lots to read there.  It’s like feeding me.
  Speaking of bitches, I thought my son’s girlfriend was one.  I realize that she isn’t–she’s just completely on his side.  And that’s good, you know?  They first got together right before me and the ex split up.  I left, so I was the bad guy.  She supported him in this, and to her, I am the bad guy.
  Over time, he has mellowed to me a bit…
  …But chicks never forget.  Hell, my ex is mostly over it, which is something of a miracle, so she should let it go as well.
  I went to see Miranda on Sunday, and spent about an hour talking with the ex.  Just about random shit.  Their trip, her job, my job, school.  Mostly it was her–I’m still the sounding board for alot of people.  But she was lucid, calm–even happy.  We aren’t going to be friends.  But we can get along.  The relationship between exes has got to be one of the most bizarre in creation.  I talked with Mitchell a bit also.
  So, one thing at a time.  Building bridges, back to my daughter first, and then working on one with my son, and then my other kids and grandkids.  Mitchell is hard to–
  Okay, here it is, Captain Obvious.  I guess I knew this but just formed the actual words and thought behind it.  Mitchell is hard to spend time with because of his girlfriend.  Either with her or without her, I need to figure out how to see him more.  So.  Hmmmm…

  And the thought came to me that it has been two years now, and I have only just begun the process, or am about to begin the process.  Two years have gone by.  Especially for young people, two years is a long time.  I completely changed their world when I left.  I know I changed mine.
  Case in point:  a few weeks ago, they had some flooding.  The flood waters had avoided them til now, but the creek rose in the back and came up the yard and into the basement and put about 6 to 8 inches of water in there.  They took care of it, used it as an excuse to throw out alot of my old shit, and clean up the basement good.
  But if I had been there, I would have been chewed out left, down, and sideways.  The flood would have somehow been MY fault.  Oh yes, it would have.  I was there when they were cleaning it up, appropriately empathizing with their disaster while remaining detached.  I didn’t go so far as to say "sucks to be you," but I did bolt, leaving them to their mess.  Their home.  Their disaster.  Not mine.  I didn’t belong anymore.  And I didn’t get bitched at for whatever the hell it was that I did or didn’t do that was ultimately responsible for this.
  I belong here, where I am now.  If I can just string a bridge to the kids, make them feel welcome here without feeling like they are betraying their mother.  You know, I know they don’t get me.  What I did, what happened, seemed completely out of character for me as the one they thought they knew–their perspective.  But what I am on the outside is not what I am on the inside.  Not always, anyway.

Trading Spaces

August 17, 2008 at 1:39 AM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | Leave a comment
  Although Thursday night was busier, it went smoother.  Wednesday we died about 9:15.  Completely died–no more runs the rest of the night.  That gave me time to back up and regroup, and get my stuff done in an orderly fashion…
  …Even though I had only the vaguest of ideas about what I had to do.  I should pay better attention.
  But Thursday, there were no problems.  No FNG, and no unexpected suits visiting.  Me and Dina. 
  About 6:20, she says to me, "So, you think you can handle this?"
  That was a rhetorical question.  She wants to bail.  She’s going to leave, because her daughters are at home alone.  Asking me was just more polite than running out the door laughing, and yelling, "So long, sucka-face!"
  Contrary to what you may think from reading this, I’m not a big whiner/complainer.  No, really.  Shut up.  Anyway, I said, "Well, either I can or can’t.  There’s only one way to find out."
  Puff of smoke as she makes her exit.
  Mike is scheduled to work all day.  Shortly after Dina leaves, wants to know if I would be interested in a trade.  "But I’ve never even seen your wife," I said.  The Bread Company aka The St Louis Bread Company aka Panera Bread–a couple of guys there wanted to trade food with us.  It’s not uncommon.  I said, "What do they want?"
  "A couple of sandwiches."
  "They have sandwiches.  What the hell?"  We’re still busy, but eventually we get an order together, and find out what they want.  They’re getting a couple of large pizzas, two orders of wings, and some cinnastix.  And we get four or five sammiches and some soups.
  Okay, I…I’m not into fru-fru bullshit.  And the Bread Co menu is fru-fru bullshit.  It even has a menu section called fru-fru Bullshit.  Opposite page is the section for women and gay men on diets.  I found something I wanted, I think.  A panini–whatever the hell that is–with turkey, cheese, and bacon.  Leave or the weird gourmet mustard.  According to the menu, that’s all that was on it.
  We get the food, and I dig through this big ass sack of sammiches, and they are wrapped in a fru-fru manner, and inside you can see that they were made in a fru-fru style by fru-fru sammich makers.  I…can’t find my sammich.  Wait, there it is.  I think.  The closest thing–
  Okay, it has turkey on it.  Isn’t a panini supposed to be toasted or grilled or some shit?  No cheese.  No bacon.  But it does have lettuce tomato onion on it.  And, as I lift up the lettuce seaching in vain for bacon–
  Mayonaise.  Mother fucker.  I am not happy.
  We traded for this, so it’s basically free.  How do you complain about free shit?  All of their stuff was right (as far as I know).  If not, fuck em.  No, I don’t see any hypocrisy, why do you ask?
  Serena said it sounds like the sammich I got was a different one on the menu from the one I ordered.  Thank you, CSI Miami. 
  You know how I feel about mayo.  YOU KNOW.  So don’t start any shit with me.  I had to explain over and over to the girls here at the bank about it, and they just don’t get it.  Peggy says I’m complicated.  I said, "No, I’m not.  I’m the opposite of complicated.  I’m a simple, simple man.  I like my food plain, and simple.  The Bread Company has a made a powerful and formidable enemy.  I shall never forget.
  Well, you know.  I mean, I’ll get over it.  I’m pretty much done now, in fact.  I took the turkey off–it wasn’t touching the mayo–and made a whole new sammich with it from Domino’s materials.  I’m about to eat it for lunch, in fact.  I saved it.  Plus, they had broccoli cheddar soup, and the soup was good.  So, I’m …done. 
  But notice how quickly I stepped right back into the routine?

It’s A Fine Line

August 15, 2008 at 1:39 AM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | Leave a comment
  It’s a fine line…

  …Between being incredibly stupid and certifiably insane.

  One of the definitions of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result.  For example, squatting and grunting and expecting a monkey to fly out of my ass…and yet all I continue to do is fart.
  In the same context,  I have a history of going back to Domino’s Pizza, and then back into management.  I continue to expect rational upper management and humane treatment, and logical operations.
  And I yet I continue to get shit on.
  It’s what I get, I suppose, for trying to hedge.  Trying to come up with the least painful way of making more money, and balancing that with the least risk and change, I opted to become a part time assistant manager at Domino’s Pizza.  MIT, a manager-in-training.
  But the goal of an MIT is to eventually become a manager.  Is that what I wanted?  Christ, no!  I was more of an MIR, a manager-in-retirement.  I talk with Dina, the manager.  The store has a manager and one assistant.  Generally it should have two assistants, and we end up borrowing from other stores.  We pay overtime to them as well as overtime to our own people.  I could work two, maybe three nights per week in store.  But–I need to make at least (insert dollar amount here).  I’d like more, but this is my minimum.  Any less, and I will be forced to look elsewhere.
  This based on a complex formula taking into account how much I can work, what I need to make per week, and my pride.  I have twenty-plus years experience in this business, most of it in this company.  My knowledge, experience, and training had better be worth something.  It for damn sure better be.
  She agrees, and we have a deal in the works.  She takes the offer to Tom, our Supervisor (DM for those of you in the field).  Initially he balks–because that’s his job–but eventually he agrees to the deal.  That was last week.  So, starting this week, I would be "promoted."
  My first day was Wednesday–last night.
  By the way, my normal daily schedule has been this:  I get up around 6am (ish).  Work the bank from 7a to 3p.  If I work at Domino’s (or when I worked at Scooters) I would go home, take a quick nap–about an hour, hour-twenty–and then head off to the next job.  Work however later there (10pm, 1am, or 4 am) and then come home.  Except for the 4am, those others were during the week when I would have to get up again the next day at 6ish.
  But I would show up at the night job at 5 or 530.  You know, whatever.  Yet another sad case of me doing whatever I want.  But the nap is important, and part of my routine. And during a long day, it’s the difference between making it and…not.
  Now, though, as a new improved assistant, I get to show up at 4p.  So, I leave my day job, drive straight to Domino’s (or close to it) and park, and take a shorter, more uncomfortable half hour nap in the car.  Then I go in.  I change clothes, and the first thing Stan asks me is, can I take a delivery?  Well, I’m driving the Mercedes because I wasn’t expecting to drive.  But Mike, the driver, has a flat.  I take the run while he gets it fixed at the service station next door.
  Afterwards, Stan wants to have a conversation with me.  It seems that Tom is having buyer’s remorse regarding our deal.  He feels that for the paltry sum he’s willing to pay me, I should be working more hours.  Be more "invested."  He wants thirty hours or more.
  I raise my voice slightly.  "Does he know I already have a day job?  Or he doesn’t care?"
  "A little of both."  Meaning, if it’s not about Domino’s and what I could do for him, he’s not interested.  As it is, three shifts–three closes–is going to come out to 27.5 to 30 hours.  I’m not working any more.  In fact, I’m having doubts about these hours as it stands.
  But I get to work.  And one of the things I get to do, on my first day as an assistant manager, is help train the other new assistant.  This is his third day in civilization, and has never seen a pizza before in his life.  Or a computer, either, apparently.  The phone rang and he mentioned something about witchcraft.
  And we’re about to be visited by the ghost of corporate past.  I learn that the suits will be paying a visit this evening, so everyone is jumping through hoops, seeking the unattainable perfection that Domino’s can never be.  Stan is trying to brief me on knowledge that he feels I should ask.  "If they ask you what the shelf life of this is, you say–"
  "Dude, if they ask me anything, I’m going to tell them I’m new.  And that I don’t speak English.  And I’ll tell them in Spanish."
  He stared at me, blinking in disbelief.  "I’ve done this before.  I know how to bullshit."
  And they arrived, and we were a bit busy.  I handled carryouts and the oven, and Dina was on the line with the FNG.  A customer walks in, and I immediately start to make my way over to greet her–and one of the ass clowns in a suit yells out, "Carry out!" because that’s what you do when someone comes in, to make sure everyone knows.  But everyone DID know.  As I passed him, I smiled at the guy and then as I turned away from him but before I faced the customer I rolled my eyes.  It’s all about timing.
  However, I’m not important to the suits.  They breeze through, talk amongst themselves.  They make professional idle chit chat with the occasional employee, and then leave as though they were the cavalry that rode in to save the town, and now their job is done, and they gallop off to make vague generalizations elsewhere.
  Since we are safe–because they saved us–Dina leaves.  It’s about 730, and the rest of the night is mine.  It turns from a bad dream into a nightmare.  I go to check out Mike.  The FNG Johnny is getting busy up front, and is having trouble handling it.  That he handled it at all is a bit of a miracle.  I get Mike checked out, but I owe him money because like a dumbass he made a cash drop instead of putting it in his box.  Now he gets to wait for the safe to open. 
  I go up to the front, set the safe (I think), and then make pizzas, sandwiches, and whatever the hell else people order.  It starts to calm down, and I let Johnny go.  I’d rather do it myself.  He can answer the phones, barely–but he won’t unless you specifically tell him to, every time.  He’s like a poorly trained dog.  I try to open the safe when the timer goes off, and as it turns out, I don’t exactly know how.  I may not even have set the timer at all.  Or did I?  Mike was hovering, jittery–because he always is–waiting for me to open it.  He finally says, I’ll come back.  I owe him 90 bucks, so I imagine I’ll see him again.
  So I let Johnny go, and as I kneel down to reset the safe, I see something on a monitor that reminds me of something Johnny said…that we didn’t take care of.  While I’m checking Mike out, he come back to the office and says that on this one order, her forgot to get her address.  I said, "Call them back.  Ask for it."  I guess you have to be really new for that to not be obvious.  He comes back a few minutes later–"I tried twice, it was busy."
  "Give it a few, and then try again.  I’ll be up in a few minutes."
  I finish with Mike and get there, and I am immediately confronted by a small disaster.  It may well have been half a dozen forest fires, trying desperately to spread and grow and overtake the old growth trees.  We get caught up and I get Johnny out of there, and then I call Dina to get specific instructions for the safe. 
  I’m taking car of business, you know–doing my thing.  Fifteen minutes later I get up by the safe and get ready to open it.  And I see an order on the screen.  Half an hour old and not sent through.  I quickly reconstruct the events, and decide I need to call them.  This is the one Johnny took and didn’t get an address on, so it was never made.  Meanwhile, Mike is dancing like he’s going to piss his pants because I’m about to miss the safe again.  And I do.  But I take care of the order that Johnny never got ahold of to find their address.  I reset the safe, and Mike says he shall return.  By now it’s 830, and most of the madness is over.

  So…the rest of the night is slow and easy, like a retarded cheerleader.  By the way, if using "retarded" offends you, fuck off.  Offended more?  Good.  Steve and I have the chance to bond.  We hug, braid each others hair, and talk about clothes. 
  Except the non-gay version.  We talk shit, reminisce about past jobs, and fart.  Good times.  He had managed at Taco Bell, and had gotten screwed over–of course.  He and his brother (Mike, the other driver from earlier) opened a nightclub, and were quite successful, but had problems with a large university that was right next door. A large Catholic university with lots of pull locally.  They ended up selling. 
  Now he does pretty well for himself.  He and his brother once again have another venture going–used cars.  Nothing personal, but I would NOT buy a used car from either one of these fuckers.  No matter how trustworthy and honest they actually ARE, the perception is–they seem to be shifty bastards.  But nice boys.
  I make it through the closing procedure okay, I guess.  I walk about 12:20, and I’m home by 1a.  A little downtime–I eat some wings I brought home while watching drivel on the tube, then go to bed.  And read for about fifteen minutes.  Can’t help it.  About 130ish, 145.  And I have to be up at 6, but its going to be 645 and running a little late…
  What I want–all I want–is to make extra money without losing so much sleep.  My final analysis is not in yet, but the preliminary is this:  I don’t think this is going to work.  And I’m not putting up with any bullshit.  I can make this shitty money anywhere.  I think I would, now that I think about it, rather work more nights for shorter hours than fewer nights for longer hours.  I need to sleep, too.
  By the time Friday rolls around, I expect to be fried.

What It’s Like To Live With Me

August 9, 2008 at 6:14 PM | Posted in Journal | Leave a comment
Last night, I was working at Domino’s.  I was driving.  On my way back to the store, I was talking to my girlfriend on the phone.  I park, and go through my routine:  stop, put it in park, kill the engine, kill the lights, grab the pizza bag, and I make a glance at my cupholder before I open the door–it’s empty.
  Normally I keep my phone in the car when I’m delivering, so I don’t accidentally leave it in the store.  I don’t carry it with me, because it bulks up my pocket.  I want to make sure I have it with me on the run.  So, I keep my phone in the cupholder, and now it’s not there.
  I quietly panic as I look around, still talking to my girlfriend.  Finally I say, "Wait.  Wait a minute.  I can’t find my phone."
  She says, mocking me, "It’s in your hand."
  "Ha ha.  Seriously.  I can’t find it."  I lean over, to see if it fell out onto the floor.  I left the windows down after it stopped raining–maybe those punks that were hanging around earlier snatched it.  I was going to have to cancel service.  Dammit.  But first–
  "Give me a call on my phone," I told her.  "If it fell somewhere I’ll be able to hear it."
  "I will in a minute," she says, and I didn’t understand why she wouldn’t do it right now.  Was she busy?  What was more important?  The whole time I’m having a panicked conversation with my girlfriend, going through all the possibilities, and–God love her–she helps.  "Check your pockets."  And "Maybe you left it in the store."  And then, "I’ll see if it’s here on the charger."  She’s talking me through it when I have the sudden epiphany.  It’s a great feeling to finally catch up to the rest of the world.
  I turn to open the door to get out, and realize that my hand is full.  My left hand.  I’m holding it up to my ear.  Well, what on earth for–
  Oh.  The phone is in my hand.
  Well, to be fair, I was holding it to the *SIDE* of my head, so I couldn’t very well see it now, could I?
    "Wait a minute.  Found it."
  She then realized that I wasn’t kidding, and that I really *couldn’t* find my phone, and that I had finally figured out why.  Because I was talking to her on it.

  She laughed her ass off.

The Devil I Know

August 8, 2008 at 1:56 AM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | Leave a comment
I sat and pondered at my plight
I only want to do what’s right
But what is the thing, that’s the question: to see
How can I know what is and what should never be?
The glory of the spreadsheet lay before
And the data danced like a naked whore
Twould seem the decision was more than fate
How else could it be something I hate?
The problem was money-it always is
So tell me the answer to this quiz:
I deliver pizza and make some cash
And put it back in the tank as gas
Some nights are good and some are bad
Good tipping seems to be a fad
It comes and goes and comes and goes
Lately it’s gone, and thus my woes
I need steady, more reliable cash
And less reinvestment into unleaded gas
No longer at Scooters; I miss it, I guess
Everything but the heat, I must confess
Although it was a great way to lose some weight
Dying in that sauna might have been my fate.
But they closed it, and it shook me, to the core
The doors closed and the raven quoth, "Nevermore!"
Nevermore as well, would my bills get paid
And my good credit, like a memory, was about to fade
The pickings for food were soon to turn quite lean
The cupboards are barren and the shelves are clean
It seems in this day one job is not enough
And what do you do when things get tough?
I found another job but they quickly closed
Another example that it just goes to show
Again I turn to Domino’s, for more driving hours
I deliver in the hot sun and in hot summer showers
But the cash is not forthcoming in the manner it should
I fall further behind, wishing "if only I could–"
I’d like to win the lottery, but chances are not great
If I bought a ticket, perhaps I could beat fate
Or just find a bag of money, laying in the street
I think something like that would be pretty neat
Back here in the real world, I seek some resolution
I came up with something that resembles a solution
Cringing at the thought, and the words tie up my tongue
I make an offer to Domino’s, like my firstborn young
As long as I don’t think too much it only hurts a little
Knees and back, plus migraine, nervous tick and spittle
The answer comes back from high above, noddingly approved
My request for hourly pay and a promise not to move–

And so here I am, behind the counter, making pies again.
I swore I’d never do it, but that was way back when
Call me an assistant at least in the nominal sense
For I’d like to think that I still can ride the fence
Between giving in completely to the sauce within my veins
And the management career that is the bane of all my banes
I had many reasons con, and many reasons pro
And many reasons that made think I just don’t know.
Much less driving in the truck and a steady stream of cash
The reasons were logical, I just hope it wasn’t rash.
I have another backup plan if this doesn’t work out
Something else to match the meager skills I tout.
I didn’t want to do this, but only time will show.
At the very, very least, it is the devil that I know.

Gonna Eat Alot Of Peaches

August 4, 2008 at 3:49 PM | Posted in Journal | Leave a comment
  We went down to the country Saturday–

  I knew I was going to have Miranda that weekend, and thought it would be a great time to get her re-acquainted with my side of the family.  For the last 20 years, it’s been all about The Storm’s family.  She didn’t like my side–hell, she didn’t like her side that much (or anyone at all in fact)–and always had excuses for staying away from them, begging off get-togethers and in general shunning them and keeping me from having contact with them.
  I’m sure she would now say, well, I wasn’t stopping you–you could go see them anytime you wanted.  But I was always dragged along to her family’s events, and I went without complaining.  She owed me the same courtesy.  Bitch.
  Meandering back…The original plan was to go see my brother in the middle of the country, and then continue on to Mount Vernon (IL) where the bulk of my dad’s family is from.  But emails to my Aunte went unanswered, so we backed and filled, shifted plans.  We just went to my brother’s.  I’ll have to get to my other family another time.
  Carl lives in rural Southern Illinois…which is redundant.  He lives in the small town that I grew up in, within a hundred feet or so of the old house I lived in.  We are city mouse/country mouse.  But I love the country, and would love to move back.  I think.
  Instead of leaving Friday, we decided to wait until early Saturday morning, which turned into noon by the time we left and dealt with the traffic from a vehicle fire on the highway.  Yup, liking the country more and more.  But we get out there, finally–not to his house but to The Farm.
  He lives in one town, Venedy, but the farm is in Nashville, Illinois.  Actually it’s south of Nashville.  Forty acres that was the childhood home of his wife Geneva.  When after her parents died, the farm was split among all of the siblings, and then her and Carl bought most of them out, happy to be rid of the hassle.  I think one brother still owns some of the wooded land, but he lives in Chicago.  I don’t know, does he think he’s going to build a cabin and retire down here?  Seems unlikely.
  Anywho, Carl and Geneva always talked of moving to the farm.  Building a house there, and so forth.  Originally, they were going to build on top of the basement and foundation of the old farmhouse that crumbled and fell.  But then the basement walls and foundation crumbled and fell as well.  Probably a good thing that happened BEFORE they started building, otherwise it would have been a bummer. 
  There were several buildings, obviously, since this is a farm.  House, shed, milkhouse, barn, chicken house, outhouse, another shed of non-descript purpose–
  Lots of buildings.
  The barn went, and they sold much of the old, distressed wood.  A few other buildings were too feeble, fragile to use, and were taken down with a huff and a puff.  But there was a brick milkhouse, which Carl was using as his hunting lodge/man’s get-away.  What they ended up doing, which we saw this last weekend, was take the milkhouse and add to it.  The milkhouse was big enough for ….three bedrooms, two baths, a hallway and some storage.
  They added on a slab for the living room-kitchen-dining room.  Lots of space.  My nephew Matt is a professional union carpenter, and actually did most of the work, methinks.  It looks completely professional.  The exterior blocks of the milkhouse show on one side, for rustic charm, but the interior is completely enclosed and modern.  It’s going to look nice when they finish.  They hope to move in by Thanksgiving.
  Then we did return to their house, and I gave Miranda a quick tour of my house.  Where my tree used to be, where the tire swing used to be, the window to my room, where the swingset and the hedges and the grape vines used to be… We walked around to the back, got a look at the barn, which is obviously a conservative, because it is old and white and leans way to the right.  It’ll fall over soon.  The pony shed still stands, but the fence is down.  The big area in the middle of yard is just grass now, but was my parents garden.  Fully the size of a someone’s yard on it’s own.  The entire yard is an acre, which I cut with a riding mower when we lived there.
  We had a good visit with them, and it was good for Miranda to see them.  Miranda rode back to their house with Geneva, and I’m sure they had a good talk about everything.  For the longest time, I didn’t like my brother much, and as soon as I was through with The Storm, I realized it was because of her.  She didn’t like him, and I followed her lead.  She saw him as a threat, I guess.  To what, I don’t know.  Her stranglehold on me?  I feel…Reunited with him.
  And it was good.  It’s different now from what it was when we were kids.  Oddly, I feel like a grown-up when I talk to him.  I guess because he reminds me–by being there–how old I am.

  In other news…
  Their daughter Rochelle moved in with her boyfriend.  Of course, he lives with his mother.  Neither the boy (or, in other words, slightly older man; Shelly is 20) nor her are working.  This, I explained to my daughter, is why socialism is a bad idea.
  The older son Scott, who is married to Kim (not mine, another one) are expecting a baby.  Probably due around Christmas.
  Matt, the middle son, had time to build the house because he’s out of work again.  Hard to keep a job when you keep quitting or getting fired.
  My older daughter got some kind of degree online, and went up to Chicago for the graduation ceremony.  I wondered why they didn’t just do it all online–?
  Miranda and Detroit bonded a bit, and got closer.  It’s hard not to like Miranda–she’s a sweet girl.  And Detroit is pretty likable herself, 27 days out of the month.
  My ex’s house flooded last week. Big rain, creek behind the house overflowed, and it came in the basement door.  I did want a walk-out, didn’t I?  Of course, it’s not mine anymore.  But they had to throw a lot of shit away.  Most of it was my shit, my old shit, shit I never took with, shit I vowed to never give up, shit they finally had an excuse to get rid of. It might have been some closure for them, removing the last remnants of me…
  I brought a Chinese proverb for show-and-tell:  A wise man, in the course of a long live, will have to abandon his luggage several times.

Gideon’s Bible

August 1, 2008 at 1:10 AM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | Leave a comment
  It was a dark and stormy night…kind of.
  Actually, it was still light out, but raining.  Too dark to wear sunglasses, but there was a glare that made it too bright to see comfortably without them.  Here I am again, delivering.  I finally made it to the store, because rain and poor decisions result in fun traffic.
  I get in, and we’re busy, oddly enough.  All the drivers were in store, so the rush must have *just* happened.  Good timing–if you’re late, you miss alot of unnecessary crap.  That is the motto I live by.  I roll in, clock in, and slide to the line, and bump Steve off.
  "You can go now.  A real pie maker is here."  He gladly left.  Together, Dina and I undo the asskicking she got.  Of course, the top oven she had taken apart for cleaning, not expecting this kind of rush.  We were using one oven, which is standard for a normal Wednesday, but we could have used two.  We had it backed up, and pies were waiting to go in.
  Everyone else is before me, so I get left with a single…and a funtastic re-deliver.  Mike went there once and there was no one home.  No answer on the phone.  It was going to the same apartment complex I was going to, so let’s try and deliver it again, shall we?  That’s how they fuck you.  I take the other one first, then go to the re-deliver. 
  Well, it certainly looks like someone is home now.  I said, "Did you order pizza?"
  "Yes we did.  Please come in, out of the rain."
  As I entered, I said, "Okay, because someone else tried to deliver this once and no one was home."
  "Well that’s odd because we were here the whole time," she lied.
  Lied, I said.  Because two teens come upstairs at that time, and must not have heard that conversation.  One of them said, "It was nice of you to wait until we got home."
  Fucking lying bitch.  And she looked like someone’s grandma.  But I got the tip, so–fuck em.  This was the same apartment complex that–when I bitch about apartment complexes, it’s usually this one–I had an unusual experience the previous Friday.
  I get to the approximate location, and resign myself to looking for the address.  This place is laid out in such a stupid, illogical–nevermind.  I wander aimlessly trying to find something close to the number.  No such luck.  How close was I?  Well, the number I’m looking for is four digits, but all I see are five digit numbers.  So I went back to the truck and called them on my cell.  I speak to several Mexicans before one that knows some English picks up.  "Look, I can’t find your address.  I am parked right here by the street sign.  That’s where I am.  You are going to have to come to me.  I can’t find you.  Comprende?"
  "Si."
  So I wait.   Meanwhile, the raccoon that I saw when I first pulled into the lot has eyed me and the pizza.  He gave up on the dumpster, smelling fresh food.  He was by the tire underneath the car across from me.  I had my back turned, and he scampered up to the truck, just on the other side of it from me.  I turned quickly.  Where was that little fucker?
  I ran around the side of the truck, and almost walked over him.  He hissed and got up on his back legs.  I backed up, and he went about his business, which was surveying the area to figure out how to get the pizza away from me, out of the bag, out of the box, back to his den, and into a microwave to heat it up because this might take awhile and it would be cold by then.  Plus, did I bring any beer with?
  From a safer distance–about six to eight feet–I made threatening postures, and he ran back to the car and watched. Waiting for me to turn my back.  When I did, he scampered up again.  I made him run off, he would, then he would wait, then he would scamper up again.  We played this game for quite some time.  Rocky Raccoon was determined to get these pizzas.
  Meanwhile, no Mexicans.  I call again on my phone.  "Hey, is someone coming out here?  I’ve been waiting.  If no one is coming I’m going back to the store."  Of course, it took several attempts at communication to get that out before getting–look, if only one of you assholes speaks English, that should be the first or second dickhead I talk to, not the seventh.
  I mean, unless one of them picks up the phone, realizes it’s not someone they know speaking Spanish, and then says to someone else.  "Not Spanish.  Sounds like Croatian.  Who do we know that’s Croatian?"  "Let me talk to them, I know Croatian."  After talking to them for a minute, he says to someone else, "It’s not Croatian.  It could be French.  Miguel, you speak French."  Again.  "Nope, not French.  Perhaps it’s Farsi?  Maria?"  Until we get to the one illegal Mexican in the house here in the United Goddamn States of Fucking America that speaks the mother fucking tongue, fuckers.  You’d think that maybe, just maybe, English might be the first fucking choice–
  I communicate (if that’s the word) with one of them, and he agrees that maybe he should come out after all.  While I wait, I continue to fend off the raccoon.  The guy comes out and he does tip me well.  But still–if the fucking raccoon had money, I would have sold it to him first.  Take it, just take it.

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