Houseguests

July 26, 2010 at 11:13 PM | Posted in Journal | Leave a comment
  My son came over Sunday with his two youngest, and we had a good visit.  We caught up and had a few beers, and reminisced a little.  Talked about cars and so forth as well.  I gave him some of dad’s tools. 
  I don’t…I’m not saying this to be bragging, like, "See how good of a dad I am?" or anything like that.  I just think it’s a testament to the bond we have.  I have some bad shit that I can blame on my ex–namely  poor credit and lasting psychological damage–but I did get some good things out of it, like the kids. 
  She had two kids when I met her, aged 14 and 15.  Now they are 37 and 38, so I’ve known them over half their lives, and all of their adult lives.  Hell, I was 23 when I met them, so they’ve known me for all my adult life as well…which has only been the last 6 or 7 years.  But I am glad that these kids have accepted me as their dad, and even through the divorce, they have stuck by me.
  For the length of our marriage, it was all about her family and her extended family.  I mean, she could hardly stand them, but she hated my family even more, so by default, all gatherings were genetically linked to her.  I like many in her family.  Hell, I look at the spouses of the sisters–we are kind of a secret club together, or were, until I escaped.  I imagine they curse me in their sleep:  "Rat bastard!  Why didn’t you take me with you?!"
  It was good to chat with Mike on Sunday.  Monday, he called me.  "Guess who I just saw at Walmart?"
  Could be anyone.  Most likely, though–"Elvis?"
  "Sonny!"
  "No fuckin way!"
 
  When I first got together with Linda–she was different.  In addition to being willing to suck my dick, she was generous in other ways as well.  She had two essentially homeless guys living in the basement of her apartment.  Both of them were about twenty.  Sonny was one, a Vietnamese-American.  I forget the name of the other asshole, but he was some Mexican kid.
  The Mexican kid I had to throw out of the apartment, because he caused Linda to lose the lease.  While she was at work she got a call about it.  The fucking idiot had a BB gun and was going around the complex shooting windows, lights, and other fun things that break.  I remember that it was the oddest thing–I happened to be driving down West Florissant–God knows why–and I saw Linda walking.  She had taken a bus and was walking to the apartment to…I don’t know what she was going to do.
  But I had to step up.  I kicked the little punk out myself.  Some time later, Sonny and I had to try to find him.  I drove, and Sonny checked out a few places.  I remember going to one door, and a middle-aged scraggly-looking bum came to the door.  Sonny asked if the kid was there.  Under my breath, I said, "He’s a worthless asshole."
  Sonny looked at me and said quietly, "That’s his dad, dude."
  Hunh.  How ’bout that?
  The guy looked at me with a half-smile, trying to be diplomatic, or maybe he wanted to rise above it.  Cryptically, like a Buddhist monk speaking in pig Latin, the guy said, "Are you any better?"
  Perhaps at that point I was supposed to take out my soul and weigh it, or take a tape measure to my karma.  I prefer to do my introspection in private, however, and not in front of a crowd of simpletons and marks.  For him, I had a quick, pragmatic answer:  "I’m not a thief."
  "Well, that’s your opinion."
  What the hell does that mean?  Either you are or you aren’t.  Either you have an arrest record…or you don’t.  But the little asshole had tried to steal from me, I know that.  I had a Ford Escort with a really nice stereo in it.  The little prick had actually shown it to someone (See the stereo in that car?  Wanna buy it off me?) and he was going to steal it.  However, the car thwarted his plans.  For some reason, if the driver’s side door was locked and you pulled on the door handle, it wouldn’t unlock with the key; you’d have to go in through the other side and do it, and even then it would be stiff.
  In the course of trying to jimmy the lock, he must have pulled on the handle.  That coat hanger was not going to unlock it.  Instead of having the balls to break the glass and steal it, he slasked a tire.  Actually, he slashed TWO.  Both on the driver’s side.  Fucker.
  We kicked him out, and never saw him again.  But Sonny stayed with us for a while.

  We lost the lease on the apartment, and we had to move.  Her brother had a house sitting empty, and we moved in there.  If I recall, we moved first, and then had to deal with fixing a few things to get an inspection from the city.  Sonny got a job working 3rd shift in a manufacturing plant, doing plastic injection molding.  He would drive Linda’s 76 Caprice to work.  Once he said he got pulled over for speeding over in the hood–the factory was there–and he just started spouting off in Vietnamese–which he didn’t even speak very well.  The cop didn’t want any hassle; he just let him go.
  He got himself a girlfriend–how, I’m not sure.  But she was a pretty blond thing, although she looked a little young to have that rode hard and put away wet look, but she did.  The two did a lot of drugs together.  Hey, I’m not judging; at the time, I was a big pothead.
  But I was on my way to quitting, because Linda was pregnant.
  Let’s see, her kids…her kids weren’t staying with us, exactly.  Mike lived a few blocks over with his grandmother.  I think Melissa was staying with her real dad briefly.  So it was just us and Sonny, and then Sherry moved in with.
  Sonny had a brother named Joe, and him and his girlfriend hung out for a while too.
  I don’t remember exactly when it happened, but it was sometime during this period that this happened.  Linda and I had been out that day–probably a doctor’s appointment for the pregnancy, then a meal, then some shopping.  When we got home, it looked like no one was home.
  There was blood on the porch.  On the door.  And inside, on the floor.  Fuck!  Fuck?  What the fuck happened?
  A few minutes later, Sonny and his brother Joe came running in.  It was Mike.
  Mike was 15 at the time, and starting to get taller than me.  We lived in Jennings, and that’s where he went to school.  Jennings is a tough town to be white in.  It’s really tough to be a big white boy.  A boy in his school whose name I forget–let’s call him Lamont–didn’t like Mike, was jealous of his size and his power because he had friends, and did what ignorant niggers do in this situation.
  And maybe you think that’s inappropriate, so here’s my apology:  fuck you.  When 6 or 7 niggers armed with baseball bats and crowbars and other weapons jump your son and beat him to within an inch of his fucking life in the middle of the street in the middle of the day–while a couple of them held back Sonny and Joe to keep them from interfering–then maybe you can have an opinion about what I should and shouldn’t call them.  Until then you can shut the fuck up before I fuck start your head.
  Finally, Sonny got smart, and he and his brother started yelling about the cops being on their way *right now*, and the niggers scattered like the fucking roaches that they are.  First they got him home, then they called an ambulance.
  I remember feeling disconnected from the moment, and that helped me deal with it.  I got everyone into my tiny car, and we went to the hospital. 
  Mike was going to be okay.  The beat him unconscious, and he had some serious concussions, but even though they *beat him on the head with a baseball bat and a tire tool* he had no broken bones or fractures.  This is one tough boy.  He has since grown to 6’8, so I recommend not fucking with him. 
  Mike knew exactly who it was, and could identify a couple of the other boys as well.  I’m sure this was a well-thought out plan by some ignorant niggers.  Did they think–what?  They were going to kill him?  Or beat him until he couldn’t remember who did it?  Or that he would be too scared to tell?  That’s pretty fucking funny.
  Of the six or seven boys there, three of them went to prison, including the gangleader.  A few years later we were quite happy to learn that he died in a prison fight.  Maybe I should be more forgiving, instead of feeling satisfaction; however, what comes around goes around.
  Here, you want this?  Will this make you feel better?  Of course I don’t think that all black people are niggers.  But the ones that did this to him definitely are.  And so are the parents (if that’s the word) who raised (if that’s the word) them.  I don’t have to explain myself any more than that to you.
  To this day, Mike still has some memory and cognition problems.  He did get some brain damage as a parting gift "for free" as he would say.

  I think when I got robbed first time was right around this same era.  What happened to me wasn’t nearly as bad as what happened to him.  Anyway, Sonny stayed with us, and eventually Melissa moved back in.  Linda and I got married, with her wedding dress carefully hiding her six-month belly.  Sonny was in our wedding party.  Let’s see, on the bride’s side was a hot redhead that Linda knew from church that she claimed was her best friend but we hardly ever saw, then her friend Donna who should have been the maid of honor, then her daughter Melissa, then my sister, maybe?  Four sounds right.  Then the men were my friend Lee, my cousin Kevin, Mike, and Sonny.
  We didn’t have a honeymoon per se–Christ, we did the wedding ourselves and I was the only one working.  She got her dream wedding.  Bridezilla?  Damn skippy.  But we did take an overnight trip out of town.  On the way, we dropped of Sonny and Sherry at her parents’ house, and got to meet them.
  Her parents had to be about the age I am now.  But they had aged like curdled milk.  The mother–let’s call her "June"–had a nice figure, but I’m sure it was covered in battle scars under the clothes.  And her father?  He looked exactly like what he was:  a hardcore fucking biker gang member.
  At one point in the conversation, Sherry was telling her mother about something that happened, and her mother was intentionally giving her bad advice and planting doubt.  A light bulb went off in my head, and I pointed at her.  "You’re a shit disturber!"
  She nodded, taking a long drag from her Marlboro.  "And?"
  I had a talk with the father–let’s say his name is "Ward."  He got on the topic of martial arts, and he showed me a trick.
  Maybe you’ve heard of it–these monks or whoever they might be can draw their testicles up into their bodies for protection.  He didn’t show me his nuts, thank God, but he did get into a stance, took some breaths, and then proceeded to quickly and repeatedly hit himself in the groin.
  I don’t care who you are, that takes guts.  But apparently, not balls.  I’m sure I could learn the discipline in theory, because I can learn anything (I think), but I would never be able to accomplish the feat in the real world; my balls is just too big. 
  Anyway, that was March.  By the time the baby was born in July, Sonny and  Sherry had moved out.
  First, though–and I don’t remember if this was before our wedding or after, because a lot of shit happened at that time–we had an episode with Sonny.  I think this was all brought on by drug-induced depression.  He and Sherrie were doing way too much coke…I suppose it’s a fine line between the right amount and too much.
  Sonny woke us up one night, phone in his hand.  He had taken what he thought was an overdose of pills to kill himself, then called Sherrie to say goodbye.  I’m sure it all seemed like a good idea at the time.  She had convinced him to wake us up and tell us.
  So, Christ, another trip to the hospital.  We were already going way too often during this time because of Linda’s pregnancy.  They pumped his stomach and held him briefly for observation, and we went along with his story that he did it just to get high because he didn’t want to end up in a psych ward.  Linda felt empathy for him about that because she had tried to committ suicide before I met her and she had been in a psych ward and she had been restrained and put in a straightjacket…
  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that all the women I meet are nuts.  It’s kind of like wondering if all the fish swim in the water.  Degrees, baby, degrees.
  So he came back home, and spent a few days with some rugged recuperation.  Most of the pills he had taken were harmless–a handful of Linda’s dilantin for her epilepsy, a few pain pills–
  –And some prenatal vitamins.  With iron.
  He was so constipated he was screaming on the toilet for the next several days.  A cautionary tale, I suppose.

  Between the wedding and the birth, Sonny left.  But it’s more complicated than that.
  Sherry was staying with us more at that time, because her folks lived in Illinois.  Linda tried to keep a clean house, and I wasn’t much help–but these two were worse.  I let it simmer to a boil and then I went off on them.  It was something simple and inocuous, like a stack of dirty dishes in their room on the floor with dried ketchup on them.
  I yelled at him, gave vague threats, and left.
  The next day, they were moving out.  Maybe I shouldn’t let things go so long before I do something about them?  Sherrie’s dad was there with the truck while they just loaded shit into trash bags and threw them in the truck.  The whole time, her dad–"Ward"–stood out in the street by the truck, doing some weird stuff.  Like…putting one leg at a time up on the side of the truck and stretching, and maybe some other rituals.
  Since I’m not completely stupid (just close) I could figure it out.  He had to protect his daughter’s honor, and that of his new potential son-in-law.  He was honor-bound to kick my ass.
  I wanted no part of an ass-beating by a grizzled go-to-hell biker with Shaolin monk secrets.  I had time to prepare and calm myself.  I hope.
  When they were ready to go, Ward instructed them to get in the truck, and he came up the stairs to where I was standing in the yard.  After 22 years I don’t remember the conversation, but I got the gist of it.  He calmly expressed his grievances with me, and I did apologize–in a manly way.  I wasn’t cowering or begging for my life.  I just explained that I had a bad day, maybe I shouldn’t have taken it out on them.   And I did like them.  I wonder how I said this, because it sounds like a sarcastic thing to say, but essentially I told him that for better or worse they were his problem now.  He accepted that, and we shook hands. 
  I never saw them again.

  Mike told me that Sonny and Sherrie did get married, and they had two kids.  I remember his mom wasn’t too keen on the idea of him dating a white girl, because she wanted him to keep the bloodline pure.  She said this in her broken English, standing next to her white American husband and the father of the two boys.  Hypocrisy, much?
  Sonny told Mike that he and Sherrie got a divorce about 12 years ago, and he had moved to Troy about four years ago.  I was there for part of that time, and Troy isn’t that big.  We might have seen each other and not known it.
  But I don’t know.  I don’t remember names, but I remember faces.
 

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Ebony And Ivory

July 12, 2010 at 10:18 PM | Posted in Journal | 1 Comment
  Detroit works for a food-service company that does the school lunches for a predominantly black school district in the norf side of town.  She is one of the very few white people who work there.
  Saturday was the work picnic.
  It was a relatively good time.  Andre (actually a woman) did all the cooking, and then Detroit and I showed up early to help her finish up, transport everything from the high school to the elementary school where they have a pavilion to host it, and set everything up.  Andre is so funny.  And I swear, she reminds me of an older, chunkier, and whiter version of my older daughter Melissa.
  And clean up everything afterwards.
  It seems this always happens to me, and to Detroit also.  We didn’t volunteer, it just happens, and we end up doing a lot of work. 
  Some of her people I had met before, and some were knew.  They didn’t all look alike to me, no–but I have trouble keeping the names straight at my own family reunions, so this was hopeless.  I did talk to a few people, and I tried to make friends with this little girl.  The girl was about two, but looked like she was one and a half because black people always look younger than they really are.  Detroit works with the little girl’s great grandmother, which means she is about 45.
  I wasn’t feeling especially gregarious that day–I had a lot on my mind, plus I felt like the token white guy…because I was.  I sat back and watched Detroit mingle with her people.  She knew them all, and talked and laughed with them, and they all seem to love her and accept her.  This is what racial harmony is supposed to be about, not the shit that Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are peddling.
  I wonder how Dad would feel, knowing I’m going to marry a black woman…

Sapphire In The Moonlight

July 12, 2010 at 10:05 PM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | Leave a comment
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No, sometimes the title really doesn’t mean anything…
After I talked to The Dude, I conspired to talk to Rob, the manager at Pizzarama.  First things first, however.
Friday, I left the bank about one-ish to see my shrink.  I brought with me some self-test for the ADD that I had done.  One was a before/after, where I graded myself on how I was before seeking help, and now.   From zero to four, with zero being none of the time and four being constantly.  On 34 questions you want to be less that 2 as an average, or less that 64.
For the before part, I scored over 80.
For after, I scored in the 30s, I think.  Even if I did cut myself a break, that’s still pretty good.  But subjectivity is in the eye of the beholder.
I did the whole test because I wanted to see where I stood–I felt that maybe I wasn’t getting better.  But this put it in perspective.  Plus, it allowed me to see (again) that many of the hurdles I face are my own, that I have to overcome.  And I have seen improvement.  Likewise, I was able to clear some of the brush from the forest, so now I can see the trees that I’ve been walking around.
What I mean is, I have a handful of big tasks that I’ve been avoiding, putting off.  I put the pro in procrastination.  But now I see them more clearly, and also see a game plan forming to tackle them.  I swear to God, you have no idea what it’s like inside my head.  Imagine a loud bar, with several bands playing and a different channel on 17 TVs all over the place.  And no one is getting carded.
After the shrink, I went to–
Hey, I had a great idea for a game.  Go the the psychiatrist’s office and sit in the waiting room, and try to guess what’s wrong with the patients by looking at them.  It’s fun; you should try it.  Feel free to vocalize your diagnoses by shouting them out like you’re playing “Yatzee!”  The first one to make someone cry wins. 

Speaking of which, afterward I visited the ex and gave her more money than I should have for child support, but I’m still behind a few months.  I’m glad she’s being cool about it.  Eventually the damn will burst.
She said something that made me so happy:  “Your son is so much like you I just want to strangle him.”  I’ve never been more proud.

Then I drove by Pizzarama, and talked to Rob.  We cleared the air, I hope, and had a good talk.  After what the Dude told me, I had to straighten shit out.  Here are a couple of points, briefly:
*  The knee:  It really was hurt, but this is not a thing that happens all the time.  I’m not a sickly guy.  I don’t call off.  But it was serious.
*  Some people thought I was being aloof:  that doesn’t describe me.  But the previous manager so emphasized that people had to be working, that I put my head down and worked so I wouldn’t be seen as fucking off.  Plus, I like to feel the place out so I don’t say something stupid.
*  Like the whole thing with the tip on the credit card.  I apologized again, hoping it would stick this time.
And Rob said we are cool, and is putting me back on for just a few days–less than I want, but he wants to make sure my knee can take it.  I can see his point; he wants to cover his ass.
Sunday I got some calls from numbers I did not know, so I ignored them.  However, I listened to my messages, and some driver chick named Ashley was looking for someone to work for her that night.  I called her back:  Hell yeah.  Her many messages and texts indicated that she was desperate enough to pay me for it, but I wanted to get in good with everyone there, so I did it for free.  I need the money, anyway.
Besides, I’d rather have a handjob.

Golden

July 8, 2010 at 10:43 PM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | Leave a comment
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Well, I thought things were going well at Pizzarama.
However, I got a call from The Dude, and he rehashed the scoop for me.  It seems that they (the bosses, the outgoing manager Alex and the incoming manager Rob) had a problem with me taking off because I hurt my knee.
Well, I can see that–I started pretty recently, and then this happens.  But shit–what could I do?
But the other thing is, Rob is still holding a grudge over the…altercation?  That’s a pretty strong word.  I got a little upset, and by the time I got back I apologized.  The story that The Dude heard corroborated all of that–
Except the apology.
And dammit, I apologize so seldom–I’m often sorry and usually feel remorse–that when I give one I mean it.  I had hoped it would stick.
I don’t apologize unless I mean it.  “Say you’re sorry” we teach our kids.  I’m not going to say it unless I feel it; anything else is dishonest.
I’m not saying I am honest, but I am saying that I do try to be.  Interface in the real world is hard.
Right before I talked to The Dude, I called the store and talked to Rob, and let him know I was ready to come back to work.  He said I wasn’t on this week’s schedule at all, and all he had me on for next week was Friday.  But the schedule wasn’t finished.
That’s a long time to go with no money, and that’s a problem right now.
The Dude also said other things that makes me think they don’t like me so much.  I’d say that would hurt my feelings if I had any, but that’s not true.  Honesty, remember?  I always thought of myself as a likable guy.  People generally like me.  Don’t they?
According to his report, I am standoffish, aloof, and a know-it-all.
Man.  That hurts.
I don’t think the word “aloof” has ever been used to describe me.  I’m fairly gregarious, although with age has come experience, if not a little wisdom.  In new situations I kind of hold back, fade into the background, and try to assess the place, the flow, and the people.  And Alec, the manager who hired me, repeated often that he expects people to always be working.  I made sure I did that.  But I interacted with people, I chatted, I showed interest and tried to learn about everyone, as well as learning about the job.
If anything, I thought they were being cliquish and snubbing me, but I put that down to the age difference, and I was generally in back trying to do my prep.  I was working, dammit.  Fucking Three Jakes got me into the habit of not standing still.  I did have a long conversation with Amanda, one of the pizza makers.  I thought we got along well.  Am I wrong?
But the know-it-all thing–maybe they have me there.  I don’t want to be like that, but I can’t help it since I really *do* know everything.  No, seriously, the only time I can remember is when I told Rob that these two weeks around the Fourth are typically the slowest of the year.  But I was self-deprecating when I said it–“I sound like an old guy when I when I say this…”
Dammit.  One guy that I did seem to get along with–Micah–The Dude tells me is not well liked there by everyone else.  Great.  I befriended the asshole.  How was I supposed to know?
I still think Rob had a bit of a hard-on for me because before I got there The Dude told him about me and all of my experience, and he thought I might have been gunning for his job.  But he’s manager now, so what does it matter?  So help me, what does it truly matter that I never wanted his fucking job to begin with?
I need to go and talk to him, in person, have a sit-down.  Have a chat, clear the air.  Hopefully let him know that I’m not the asshole he thinks I am.
Because I am a different asshole entirely.

Balance

July 6, 2010 at 10:44 PM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | Leave a comment
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I’d like to know where people in this fairly rich neighborhood I deliver in get off tipping the way they do.  I’m not complaining.  Okay…maybe I am.  But some of this shit is ridiculous.
That was my thought process the first two days I worked.  The fucking people–it doesn’t matter how big their house is or how big their order is–they tip two dollars.
I delivered 60 dollars worth of pizza to a half a million dollar house (And by the way, this is half a mil in the real world, not Califuckinfornia, where 600k gets you a 1200 square feet on an eighth of an acre.  Here in the Midwest–aka the real world–600k will get you half an acre and 4000 square feet in a great school district.) and got a two dollar tip from the mature executive with bright teeth in his pricey coif and pressed shorts dressed for leisure/action, and matching Lexi in the driveway.
If I have to refresh your memory, the minimum acceptable on 60 bones is six clams, which is only ten percent.  Nine bills would have been fifteen percent.  Then round it out to ten to show the world you’re not an asshole, asshole.
But the money is decent overall, even though it’s slow in coming.  Rob is the new manager, and he’s a young guy.  I would put him about mid-20s.  On the last night I worked before I hurt my knee, he remarked that it was a bit slow.
I said, “Look, I sound like an old asshole whenever I say this.  But I’ve been doing this for about 24 years.  The weeks right around the Fourth of July are historically the slowest of the year.  Always.  Maybe it’d be different if we were a resort town.”
“Yeah, everybody goes to the Lake.”
“I just wish I knew what the hell Lake ‘they’ are talking about.”
Rob and I had made amends, after I made the mistake of presumption.  A few days earlier, I was on a delivery.      The customer answers the door, and he’s holding a credit card.  That’s going to be a problem.  The order said cash.
The family communicates randomly, and I’m there to pick up the pieces.  The oldest daughter ordered online, but she didn’t specify a card and she says the order screen didn’t ask.  Possible, even likely.  No, I don’t have a machine to put the card, slide it (Ca-chink!) and give them a carbon, because this isn’t the 70s, or a third world country.
The family is running around back forth, collectively a group of chickens-sans-cranium, trying to come up with a solution before the buzzer goes off and they lose a turn on this game show.  I manage to get someone’s attention.
“Hey, here’s what we can do–”
I had call the store and run the card right then.  I said, “As long as you don’t need me to bring back a receipt, we’re good.”  They agreed.
I listened to the young lady’s end of the conversation, trying to pick up a hint about what was going on.  The card went through, and everything was fine.  Well, hey, Lama–How about a little something, you know, for the driver?”
But I’m not going to *ask*.  In addition to probably being against some ridiculous company policy (which wouldn’t stop me), I feel that it is just plain rude.  I didn’t ask, and they didn’t offer.  I left empty-handed.  Back in the car, I called the store and talked to Rob.
I had to fill him in on what happened–he wasn’t actually a part of it.  Oh.  I explained, and in a hurt tone, I said, “Why didn’t whoever took the card ask the customer if they wanted to tip the driver, since there was no coming back with a receipt and all?”
Well, the thought never occurred to him.  No one had ever ever done it for him, it’s not how things are done here.  He may have almost said policy, but I know that rules aren’t that specific, no matter how anal a company is.  But he didn’t quite get it.  I was mad, then I cooled down when I realized I was fighting a losing battle here.  It is only two bucks (if I’m lucky), and I’ll get over it.  I’m not going to start a fight about it.
You see–when I was a manager, and this situation occurred (customer at the door with credit card that hasn’t been run for whatever reason), when I take the call at the store, the driver is standing there.  He can’t ask for a tip, but as the nameless, faceless person in the store, I can ask for one on his behalf.  More often than not, they will say to add a few bucks, or tip in cash.  All they need is a reminder.
But it’s not done that way at Pizzarama.  The culture there I’ve experienced is that they use the facade of professionalism to cover for the fact that they are rude and a little selfish, and don’t give a shit about people.
Maybe I’m saying wrong, because I don’t think it’s a bad thing.  You KNOW how I feel about the customer.
However, in this situation, it bit me in the ass.  I had time on the long ride back to the store to think about it, and I apologized to Rob when I came back.  He may have almost said he was sorry as well, sort of a generic sorry-for-the-inconvenience-that-your-misinterpretation-caused-you kind of apology.  Still, he did say, in future scenarios he would keep that in mind.
We have achieved pizza detente.

Here We Go Around In Circles–

July 6, 2010 at 5:33 PM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | Leave a comment
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Almost as soon as I started at Pizzarama, I had to take some time off.  I hurt my knee.  How?  I don’t know.  What happened?  That’s the same question, so here’s the same answer:  I don’t know.  But it’s better now.  I’ll…be back.  I hope. 

Most jobs come my way through networking.  I don’t mean intarweb networking, I mean good ol’ fashioned knowing somebody.  If you network via a social networking site, I guess you are really hyper-networking.
My first jobs farming were of course because I knew someone.  My first job at Majik Market wasn’t so much because I knew someone, but my aunt knew they were hiring and sent me up there; I guess that counts.
My job at the warehouse I got because my dad worked there.  Now, my first job at Domino’s I got on my own, and my second job at Domino’s I got on my own because I had experience from my first one.  My brief stint at Steak n Shake happened because I knew someone.  And my job at Papa John’s (both times) I got because I knew someone.
The job at Scooter’s and the bank were both because I knew someone, and the third job at Domino’s as well as Angelina’s and Imo’s were from contacts that I had.  The Three Jakes I got on my own–and we know how well that turned out.  And this job at Pizzarama was through someone I know as well:  The Dude.
I was desperate to work, and he hooked a brother up.  His boss was hiring.  I interviewed, and it was a bit dicey–until he heard about all my experience at Domino’s.  He was a bit shocked, because it wasn’t on the application.  Well, I said, there wasn’t room…
Still, he really wanted someone who could work Sunday night.  I balked at this, and we were at an impasse.  He said he still had to interview a few more people.
I drove home thinking *shit-shit-shit.*  Before I even got to the highway, I called the manager back at the store.  I said, “Look, I’d rather work than not work.  And I can always use the money.  So I’ll work on Sunday.  Just keep that in mind.  I’ll do that.  I don’t want to turn something down just because it’s not perfect.  We can’t always have our way.”  He said okay.
A few days later he called me, and told me I had the job.  All I had to do was sell a little piece of my soul.

But the work is fine.  It’s pizza; it’s what I know.  I’ve gradually gotten to know a few people, and they seem pretty cool.  Alec is the manager–although, by this writing, I think he is gone, moved to another store.  The assistant, Rob, got promoted, and now it’s his store.  The Dude is a driver, some guy named Nick trained me (because I’ve never done this before), and there are a few others.  There are two older men, one Bulgarian, and neither of which I know the names of.  There’s a chick whose name I don’t know and a few other guys.  One of them is named John.  I’m pretty sure that’s not the chick.
Then there are some inside people, most of whom I don’t know.  One skinny young dude, and a girl named Amanda who has threatened to move to California.  Good luck with that, sister.
The routine is all too familiar.  I come in, I clock in.  I put a cartop on the car.  I get a bank.  I look at the prep list to see what I have, and get started on it, and finish it between deliveries.
The delivery area is St Charles, a predominately white area that ranges from middle-class to upper-middle, and lots of fucking traffic.  It seems that no matter where you are, you want to be someplace else, and then come back.
I have a street guide around here somewhere–dammit, I swear I’m going to find it and put it in the car.  Not that I really need it, but it’s nice to have, especially to save me the embarrassment.  So far I’ve been kicking it old school.  I mean *really* old school:  I look at the map before I leave and remember where I’m going.
Pizzarama is a giant in the industry.  I’m using an alias, and I hope you don’t figure it out because I’m sure they have rules about this.  Whatever–a boy’s gotta write, right?
But Pizzarama has a reputation as being a bit impersonal…and I don’t think they give a shit.  Okay.  We’ll do it your way.  They do have a pretty good structure/system in place, even though some of it seemed odd to me at first.
First of all, at every other place I’ve delivered, you take deliveries and collect the money, and turn it in at the end of the night.  Here, after every delivery, you cash out for that run.  Every time.  Also, the drivers don’t pick their own runs or check themselves out on deliveries.  Ever.  That and the cashing out is always done by a manager.  Doesn’t that slow them down?
Well, yeah.  But they aren’t overly concerned with speed.  I mean, it’s restaurant, so when it’s busy they work fast.  But not at the expense of making mistakes or being sloppy.  The toppings on every pizza are weighed and measured.  If one person has 10 pizzas to make, then she just hunkers down and makes them.  The manager rolls around doing his thing with the cash and other stuff, and then at some point he may amble over to the makeline.   But we give a realistic delivery time.  If we get busy, we up it.
At all the other places I’ve worked, I’ve done something on the production end.  Made pizzas, made sammiches, worked the grill–the whole nine yards, and some change.  I’d like to learn how they make pizzas here, just because it’s a passion of mind.
But so far all I’ve done is cut some pizzas, and put them in boxes.  It’ll come around.

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