A Pizza Named Desire

August 31, 2009 at 10:19 PM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | 1 Comment
  It was the best of pizza, it was the worst of pizza.

  I will say this, I do take some sort of perverse joy at being good at what I do and that’s one of the few things that keeps me coming back.
  That, and the money.
  Last week we found out about this big order we were having.  As of last Monday, this is all we knew–These were the "details":
  4,000 pizzas delivered to St John’s Hospital over two days, Sunday and Monday, to be divided between the four closest stores.  It is *Mandatory* for all members of management to work all day both of those days.  All day being 8AM to 11PM.
  You know, Pizza is as Pizza Does, my momma used to say.  Details emerged later:  we were getting about 600 of the pizzas, roughly 250 and 350 for the two days. 
   Sunday            Monday:
  100    1045am            150 1045am
   75     345pm               17 1245pm
   55    1045pm              75  345pm
                                      55 1045pm

  I think.  This is from memory.  Oh, and these are all larges, of course.  But instead of the usual fair–pepperoni, sausage, and cheese–these were a different mix.  Over half of them were deluxes and veggies, and then the rest were a smattering of P,S, and C.  The reason this matters is logistics.  We had to order more food for it, obviously, but also, these pizzas take a little longer to make.  No one took that into consideration.  I mean, I did, of coursed, because this is my narrative, but I assumed that the others did as well, but they did not.
  The point is, I resigned myself to the fact that I would give up my one day off to work in the hopes of receiving future bliss.  Pragmatically, I realized it would be difficult for me to ask for favors if I tried to opt out of participating in this Orwellian Pizza Love-fest. 
 
  I love the smell of pizza in the morning.  Smells like…victory.

  I wasn’t doing the 1045 am show on Sunday because I closed the night before.  Closing on a Saturday at 2am means leaving at 230, getting home by 3, and getting to bed at 4 after having a little personal time to wind down.  So no, I am not dedicated enough to lose sleep and drag my ass out of bed at 7ish to show up bright tailed and bushy-eyed at 8am.  I just can’t do it.
  I woke up at noon, and planned on going in at 2 in the afternoon.  This, I calculated, would be the right time to get the 345pm order rolling.  When I get there, Stan is there, John the Driver is there, and John the Director of operations and brother to the owner of the franchise is there.  Hereinafter I shall refer to him as Big John in reference not to his size but his position.
  And our manager Dina is not there.
  From random things I picked up–people are anxious to tell their side of the story; I should be a judge–I managed to piece together how the morning went.
  Big John arrived at the store about 8am, as planned.  He called Dina. She was "on her way."  She got there about 9am.  Next question Big John asked her:  "Where’s the van?"
  The company rented a full size van–actually a few them for the various locations–to haul the pizzas with.  It came with explicit instructions:  This van is for the purpose of delivering these orders only, so it stays at the store.
  Well, our buddy Stan has no vehicle right now, and so felt compelled or even obligated to drive the van home.  That way he’d a) have a ride home; and 2) have a ride back to work the next day.  He shows up with the van. I’m not sure when but I get the impression it was about 830.
  John the Driver was due at 9, but he had some problems.  Normally he is responsible and timely.  However, since no one TOLD him there was a rental van, he was planning ahead and was going to have his big Blazer ready.  But there were some coordination issues with it concerning his family, so he was there about 930.  That’s not as important–he’s not a pie-maker.
  So, John was late, Dina was late, Stan was late.  Stan took the van.  And, all the prep was not done, exactly, for the order.  That last thing may have fallen on me, but there was kind of a grey area there.  I should have prepped sauce, I’ll give you that–but I didn’t discover that it wasn’t done until right before I was ready to leave.  So, no–I’m not staying to do it.  The boxes were ready.  Sauce is not a difficult thing, so I left it.

  "I just want to say one word to you – just one word… ‘pizza.’"

  So how long does this all take?  Let me run some numbers for you.  Although I don’t do these big orders on a regular basis, for a long time fifteen years ago I was the "school-lunch master."  I was always on time, always in control, and always organized.  Obviously, this isn’t how I normally am–but I was so scared to fuck up that I MADE SURE I got it right.  And then after the first couple of times of things going smoothly, I realized how much easier it made my life to just grow up and do it right and plan ahead that I continued.  I felt really adult at that point, like I had mastered one of the things that makes you a grown-up.
  So the planning is like this:  You know what time they have to be there, and then you calculate how long the pizzas are going to take in the oven, and you work backwards from there.
  Delivery time:    1045am
  Leave the store:    1030am  (if you have your shit together, that can be when the last pie is out of the oven, because you’ve been bagging and carting them out to the vehicle up until this point.)
  Start loading:  (Let’s see.  A pizza goes through the oven in six minutes.  The oven holds ten large at a time.  Both ovens, twenty pizzas.  The conveyor moves slowly.  Let’s say every minute you can load a new set of four pizzas.  One hundred divided by four is twenty five.  Plus that six minute lead time, so call it about 30 minutes to run them all through the oven.
  Load time:    1000am
  So long does it take to make 100 pizzas?  Well, that depends.  The standard for a large pepperoni is under a minute.  I’m at roughly 40 seconds, but then again, I’m not THE fastest.  But making alot of them–cheese pizzas are about a 30 second affair, whereas deluxe and veggie are going to run a minute and a half to two minutes each.  They shouldn’t– but they do.  But that is just for one person.  With three people–Stan, Dina, and Big John, it should be a breeze.  In any event, 100 pizzas *should* only take an hour for three people to make.  So–
  Make time:         0900am
  And they should have all been there at 8am, time to pull out dough, set things up, get ready, and start making them early, even.  Because I don’t trust that half-hour cook time.  The difference between theory and practice is that in theory, there is no difference between theory and practice.  But interface in the real world is hard–I would start loading about 945 instead of ten, but that’s just me.
  But everyone was late, except Big John, so how did it go?  Well, they were about twenty minutes late getting there, but part of that was Stan who drove the van and claiming he knew what entrance to go to at the hospital and going to the wrong one.  The customer was upset, but my few is that it wasn’t logical.  Here’s why customers are both stupid and insane, and don’t understand how the world around them works:
  So you’re getting about 400 pizzas delivered all at once.  Are you starting to serve them?  Yes?  No?  Why are you waiting?  Start serving from the pizzas that you have–by the time the "late" ones arrive, you still won’t be OUT of pizza–you will be working through the ones you have.  I mean, if you’re smart about it, you will.  The late pizzas aren’t late.  Consider them…fresher.  And shut your fucking pie hole.

  "You’re gonna need a bigger boat."

  I arrive, and the damage has been done.  Dina has gone home because she has three girls under ten and her only babysitter is working at another store, making part of this order also.  I get the lowdown about how Big Johna and Tom, the Supervisor, are not happy with everything.  Bummer.  I grab an apron, and ask John, "Where do you want me" meaning on the line.  Because I haven’t worked with him, I didn’t know what to expect, but knew I could adapt to whatever they wanted, because I’m cool like that. 
  Big John said, "Wherever you are best at–"
  I said, "That would be dough."
  I thought it was going to be an issue, because when we are working together, Stan likes to do dough.  I think that’s best, too, because then I can control the line and make sure everything gets made, because Stan is–in a word–vapid.  But Stan rolled up to the line, smiling.  He said, "Bryan makes some beautiful skins."  Alright, I’m on. 
  This second order was 75 pies for 345pm.  I got there at 2, which is when we should have started making them, I thought.  We probably didn’t get started until close to 230.  We’re making them and racking them, and I ask, "So…when should we start loading these?"  Big John looks at the clock and says, "Probably about now–"
  I don’t know what time it was–maybe a little after three?  That should have been enough time, but it wasn’t.  Dina showed up about 315, and we were finishing up making them, and loading them in the oven.  At that point it was clear there was not enough time, which makes me wonder about my formula.  I knew 15 years ago how to do it–maybe something in my math is wrong, or I’m forgetting some aspect, because we began loading before 3, now that I think about it.  And still–the last of the pies was out at 345, when we were supposed to be there, and its a less-than-ten-minute drive.
  Whose fault is it that we didn’t load in time?  I don’t know, but Big John skipped out the door, claiming he wanted to be at the hospital to facilitate the unloading and delivery.  Whatev.
  John wanted me to ride with him to deliver instead of Stan, because Stan drives like old people fuck.  Plus, he wanted to fill me in on all the goings-on.  But Stan was working all day, and really, really wanted to get out the store.  I don’t blame him.  As it ended up, Stand left with the van with whatever was ready–about forty five of the pies, and I went with John with the last thirty.  We get there and Tom and Big John drag the big bags out of the back.  I grabbed the smaller bag and hustle behind them.
  I’m not dressed appropriately for this–my shirt is untucked, no socks, and I’m wearing my big floppy clown shoes instead of regular work shoes.  Not exactly shaven, either.  And I’m sure I smell good, too–at this point I had been sweating, slapping out the pizzas.

  "There’s no crying in baseball!"

  I had in mind when I got back to the store to make sure we were set for tomorrow–Fool me twice, won’t get fooled again–so I started folding boxes and so forth.  I told Stan to take a break–he went next door to the gas station for a few minutes–and Dina went to go get her kids from her hastily arranged baby-sitter.  It was early, before we got busy for dinner.  I was able to get a few things done, however–
  Tom called while Dina was gone.  She came in shortly after, and called him back.  I guess he asked questions about our current situation.  He felt that, logically, since she and Stan were late earlier today, and we were 0 for 2 on time today, that logically, she should do the one late at night tonight (the 55 pizzas) by herself.  She was to get rid of Stan (who was supposed to close) and me and work alone.
  This is all logical, considering that we were originally told that we all have to work all day both days.  There was more to this than just this–Dina was upset, she had been crying.  The bosses were coming down on her hard.  On one hand, I can see her point–they make this mandatory but she has kids to watch, that’s why she works the schedule that she does.  On the other hand, with a week’s notice, she can get her shit together and make some arrangement with family or something.  Seriously.
  They were down on her for how it was all handled and the fact that it was late (twice!) even though the second time was Big John’s fault, but bosses don’t take the blame.  They accept responsibility, but not blame.
  Stan was upset because he was going to lose out on all this overtime he was planning on getting.  I was upset over…nothing.  I think, anyway.  I thought I had no dog in this fight, but in the battle between evil (the bosses) and mediocrity (the store), I guess I’m on the side of the store, and the people in it.  My loyalty lies with them, because I know them, rather than Domino’s Pizza as an entity, because it represents the many spectacular kickings of my ass I have received.

  "Nobody puts Baby in a corner."

  So I go home, feeling unfulfilled–I failed to save the day.  I was merely there.  I ate, and restlessly watched TV.  Part of me had already decided what to do, and part of me–the childish, selfish part (the id, if you’re into the whole psychobabble thing)–was trying to convince myself that since I hadn’t told anyone, hadn’t made any promises to anyone, hadn’t indicated in any way my plans and could therefore blow it off with no remorse.  But I knew what I had to do.
  I told Detroit that yes, I had to go back.  Fifty-five pizzas for 1045–does anyone want to do that by themselves?  I mean, she could, I could, Stan could–any number of us *could* do it alone, but it would be a bitch.  Plus–and this was the tip-over factor:  Again I repeat they were not just cheese and pepperoni and sausage.  Most of these were harder pizzas.  When I left, Dina was red-eyed and tight-lipped as I asked again, "Are you going to be okay?"
  Short and quick:  "Yep."  Putting on a brave face, dealing with the stress, and resigned to her fate.  The fact that it was her own hole that she had mostly dug herself into didn’t justify it to me that she had to deal with the last order of the evening by herself.  So I didn’t call, didn’t give an indication.  I just showed up.
  Big John was there.  Hmmm.  I hesitated slightly, but walked through the door.  I said to Dina, "I thought I would surprise you and come in and help.  Do you need my help?"
  She said thanks, and I grabbed my apron from earlier.  I had to look for it, but I wasnt going to waste a clean one, and I wasn’t going to put on someone else’s.  I don’t know why, but wearing someone else’s apron to me is like putting on a stranger’s dirty underwear.  Don’t ask me why..
  Fifty-five pizzas, and they had about half a dozen made already.  I jump on dough, and, in the parlance of our times, we rock and roll.  I got there about 915, by 945 all the pies were made, filling the racks and the excess sitting on the tables.  maybe by the math we should load at ten, but–
  John agreed with me, and started loading early, about ten till.  I did notice that John used a technique I had told John the Driver earlier today to use–perhaps he had learned from me.
  Earlier in the day, for the second order (my first) Driver John began loading pizzas.  I said, "John, can you stagger those as you load them, so they don’t all come out at once?"
  And Stan, who had argued with me about that technique before, saying it wasn’t necessary, wanted to make sure Big John heard him say, "That’s a good idea, Bryan!"  Go, team!
  I noticed that Big John, now loading pizzas, was staggering them.  But anyway, the pies were made, it was time to load them, Dina and Big John were already there, they had a driver, it was only fifty-five pizzas…
  Dina said I could leave if I wanted.  Okay.  I didn’t do much, but I think I did enough.  I made pizzas like mad for half an hour, getting the job done quickly.  Quickly enough and efficient enough that I could now go. 
  I felt satisfied, like I had accomplished something.  I had achieved personal closure on the day.  I could now go home, and for God’s sake, take a shower.
  Versus the money I made–probably a little over a gallon total to drive there and back, and I was there about 45 minutes.  I didn’t tell Dina, but I didn’t clock in.  Charity work is better if you don’t…I’m not looking for accolades for it.  I had to do it for me.

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  1. In the quagmire of management slub, you are one of the good guys.


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