Best In Show

May 5, 2009 at 1:34 AM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | Leave a comment
  Back in the day (in the parlance of our times) at Domino’s Pizza, we would have these big events that were a combination of a surprise party and a full-body cavity search.  They were called a variety of things, from "Back To School," to whatever they hell they wanted to call them.
  Today they are just called OER.  It either stands for "Operational Excellence Report" or "Obligatory Erratic Retard."  I choose the latter.
  In the past, I have been put through both the figurative and literal wringer for the sake of these contests.  I have–
  Geez.
  I have:
  Stayed up all night cleaning a store from top to bottom.  Several times. 
  I have jumped through all manner of hoops, performing instant miracles to get a passing score.
  I have cleaned car-sized ovens with the attention a professional detailer would give.
  I have run around in circles trying to please everyone all the time while at the same time taking orders and making and cutting pizzas and getting drivers in and out the door in a timely manner while being inspected.
  I have lied to the face of inspectors asking questions. 
  I have also made up believable bullshit on the spot in answer to difficult questions.

  But no more.
  I’m not nervous any more, either.  I’ve been through it too many times, plus as you all know I really and truly don’t care.  I’m here to do a job.  I realize that my supervisor’s expectation of my job and my own personal philosophy differ somewhat; however, I’m here more than he is, so by default I win.  I do what I want.
  We’ve been expecting our OER since the beginning of the year.  We get one twice a year.  This is a guy from the corporate office, DPI.  Domino’s Pizza Incorporated.  The head office.  The big guys.  The head honchos.  The suits.
  I showed up Saturday night, and both Stan and Dina were there.  Dina was supposed to work, but she had a thing earlier with her three daughters, who were also there.  Stan worked dayshift, and now that Dina was there he could leave, and she was going to stay and work dinner, while her kids played in the back. 
  First, though, before we got busy, Dina was going to give Stan a ride (he’s without wheels, which is a long story but the gist of it is that he’s a retard).  They are all in the back while I am up front, making some pizzas.  In walks a guy I don’t recognize, in a Domino’s uniform and a clipboard.  Together, that spells "trouble."  He greets me, and I greet him, loudly, and chat for a few minutes. 
  I then witness the most amazing quick-change I have ever seen.  Two minutes after the guy comes in, Dina comes up to the front very nonchalant.  In uniform, by the way.  Previously she had been wearing jeans and nice top and had her hair down.  No noise from the back of the store.  She said later that she threw her car keys to Stan and pushed him and her kids out the back door and said, "GO!" and then changed in the bathroom lickety-split.
  So this is the guy from CORPORATE, the big scary guy we are all supposed to be in fear of.  I knew him.  His name was Tom, and he had worked at the other franchise I had worked at.  It was a sore point with me, but not his fault:  They had hired him for the position of Trainer before they announced that they were making that position.  I wanted that job.
  Que sera sera.  Now he was the big corporate trainer, doing these OER inspections.  He was there about an hour and a half, and it was excruciating.  We were busy as hell, trying to hold it together, and frequently Tom would call Dina off the line to have her answer questions or explain some inane bullshit.  That would leave me to hang on the makeline.  There was no doubt, by the way, who made all the pizzas.  This fact will be important in few minutes.
  He did bust us on a few violations, things that pissed Dina off because Stan was there and should have taken care of it:  expired green peppers and tomatoes on the makeline.  Shit.  Serious points off for that.
  Also, we had no small dough in the store.  We were making do by cutting down larger dough, but that is not procedure, that is not spec.  That is a major violation, and the only reason it didn’t cause us to flunk was that Dina called Stan–while he was out cruising with her girls–and had him go by another store and pick up two trays and bring them in and then leave again.
  So, despite a couple of major issues–expired product, no dough, and a technical remake (new driver didn’t know how to finish a pizza, which involved shaking parsley on it in the box after cutting it) we managed to make out with a 4-star.  A five star would have earned the manager a bonus.
  By rights perhaps he should have flunked us, although much of it is subjective; it is his right and power to make judgment calls.  And he *couldn’t* flunk us, he just *couldn’t*.  Not after what he said, and how he reacted, and how he gushed over the pizzas.
  He said, "I’ve been in SEVERAL hundred stores.  These are the best looking pies I’ve ever seen.  These are excellent.  The best ever."  He put that in writing on the report as well.
  He went on and on about it, and he took several pictures of the pies as well.
  I’ve always known (or at least thought) that I was the best.  I’ve heard it from other people how good my work is.  It is the one skill in this world I have.  I have said that I make the best pizza in the world…that it is possible to make at a Domino’s.
  Now think about that.  I can create some real art, essentially with dogshit.  Give me some premium clay and see what I make.
  What I wanted to tell Tom but I didn’t think about it until afterward was the line that was briefly in the news this week.  Senator Harry Reid wrote a book, and there was a brief anecdote about Obama in it.  It was a few years ago, and the junior senator had just given a powerful, incredible speech.  Harry Reid went up to Obama and complimented him.  He said, "Barack, that was incredible!  That was just the most amazing speech I’ve ever seen!"
  In Harry Reid’s words, he said, Barack looked at him with all humility, without the least sense of braggadocio, and said, "I have a gift, Harry."
  That is some conceited bullshit, I don’t care who you are.  But that’s what I wanted to say:  "I have a gift, Tom."
  But I did tell him this, quietly, before he left.  "I just wanted you to know that…this was not my best work tonight.  I’m not feeling well."

  And *THAT* was the truth.

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