Out With The Old

March 30, 2011 at 10:15 PM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | Leave a comment
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I haven’t been writing as much about Pizzarama, where I’ve been working lately.  Maybe I’m jaded?
Twenty-five years, dozens of stores, hundreds of employees, and thousands upon thousands of deliveries is bound to do that to a person.  I remember a time when I was innocent, fresh, and naive…
I don’t think I can relate to that guy anymore.

And I’ll go ahead and say it, because I don’t care anymore:  The place I work at is Pizza Hut.  When I worked at Domino’s, I named it.  When I worked at Scooter’s, I named it.  When I worked at Domino’s again, I named it–
Which caused some problems because I was doing things that weren’t exactly Cricket.  Thusly burned, I called Jimmy John’s “The Three Jakes.”  But Imo’s was Imo’s, and Steak n Shake was Steak n Shake–and they well still be.  I thought I might want an alias to protect me on this internet thing.  Maybe I shouldn’t be so cavalier, but I’m not doing anything wrong.
How about, “I’m not doing anything illegal, and most of what I do that is morally questionable is not a threat to the job”?  Better?
In the meantime, I subconsciously didn’t want to get too attached to anyone here, because Things Always Change.  However, I didn’t have much of a choice–some of them drew me in.
Of course, there’s The Dude, an ever-present fixture in my life and the reason I took the job at this particular location.  Meet our management team:
Tom is a young guy, quiet and stoic.  He seems to be laid back–like a hippie dressed as a businessman.  That’s the vibe I get.
Ryan is the other assistant.  Slightly older than Tom, but still so young.  And yet he has thinning hair.  He cares more about the job than Tom does.  Frequently they are both shocked at the ridiculous things that come out of my mouth.  Then again, that describes most people, I guess.
Rob is the manager.  Whoops.  Rob was the manager.  Rob got fired a couple of weeks ago, a victim of arbitrary grading or his own ineffectiveness, your choice.
I liked Rob–hell, I like all of them–but they way they manage stirs a deep primal desire in me.  A heat, a wrath, a bent to knock everyone over and take charge and show them how it’s supposed to be done.
But then my shift ends and I get over it.
So now we have a new manager, an older woman–older than me, even–named Julie.  I’ve met her exactly once, when I was coming in early (to make a good impression) and she was leaving early (even though it was a Saturday night and snowing in late March.
“Hi.  Who are you?” she says, looking at my chest where my nametag should be.
I put out my hand.  “Hi.  I’m Bryan.  Who are you?” I asked, already knowing the answer.  I looked at her chest, too, to let her know I knew what she was doing.  Not a sexual thing.  Not yet, anyway–but it is a weapon in my arsenal, if need be.
“Do you have a nametag?”  Before I could answer, she said, “And tuck your shirt in.”
I’ve been working there since June of last year, and I’ve never tucked my shirt in.  The cynical among you or those who have met me might think it’s because my belly prohibits it.  But actually, I have a long torso, and the shirts are always too short.  Really.  I could show you–
Never mind.
While I tucked in my shirt, she made me a new nametag with rainbow colored letters.  I guess we are inclusive now.  Then she left.  I untucked my shirt.
It’s what the store needs, and what these people need.  Someone to lead.  Rob–again, a nice guy–would rarely tell or ask someone to do something.  Jesus, you have to take charge.  Don’t be afraid to tell me to do something.
Don’t be afraid to tell the young punks working here to do something, either.  Because if you don’t, they won’t do a damn thing.  Us older folks–the drivers–we know our jobs and we get on it and we are proactive.  The kids need to be directed constantly, at least until they get the idea.
So hopefully Jules will be a good manager for the store and the crew.  It’s what they need.  Because these guys–

Temelko is our token Old Belgian guy.  He works the most hours of any driver.  He speaks the broken English very brokenly.  I’m starting to be able to make out some words.  We had a five minute conversation about a month ago of which I did not understand a single thing he said.  I sure hope I didn’t agree to something I’ll regret later.
John is a mid-twenties guy with a ponytail.  He’s quiet and good-looking.  I mean, good-looking enough to be gay.  He’s also an artist; we’ve had a few conversations about his interests, and that’s when he wouldn’t shut up.  He does computer animation, something I wish I had the patience for.
Nick is this guy–man, I don’t like him.  I mean, he’s okay.  He tries to be a smart-ass, but he’s not clever enough.  He runs shifts on occasion so he’s technically a member of management, which he uses as an excuse to fuck with people.  You know the kind of guy that’s only average in intelligence, but thinks he’s much smarter?  That’s him.
Don is the old guy.  He’s a carpenter by trade, and in this economy, delivering pizza.  He helped me tear the wall out in my kitchen and put a back door in.  Recently, he and his wife split up and he moved back in with his dad.  Yeah, he’s old.  And his dad is quite a bit older, I imagine.
When I say old, I mean he’s in his mid-fifties.  What the hell does that make me?
Don, The Dude and I are the Three Amigos, complete with pelvic thrust.  Because we are so…hip.
There are some other drivers in and out, part timers that I never quite caught the name of.  We also have Sean–Blond Sean from Scooter’s and Angelina’s fame.  He is also Rob’s ex-brother-in-law, but they are still friends.  (That’s why Rob hired him.)  Sean is an odd duck.  I thought he was a geeky, nerdy guy.  And I think he is.  He’s a nerdy guy trying desperately to hide it and be cool.  Or maybe he just turned over a new leave after he got divorced, which I can relate to.
Amber is our star pizza maker, and the hardest working person in the store.  She is about 20, a tall, gangly, clumsy looking girl.  She is just so quiet–until you engage her.  Then she won’t shut up.  I know way too much about her dysfunctional family.  She’s like the Marilyn in The Munsters, if the Munsters were all white-trash co-dependent addicts with poor decision-making skills.
Jarvis is this teenage slick dude.  He is cool, cocky, and confident.  I’m sure he gets laid way more than a teenage boy should.  He comes from money, and it shows–not just in the car he drives.  He has a sense of entitlement, and it shows in the way that he things the minimum effort he puts forth is a tremendous inconvenience to him and we should all be more appreciative.
[We’re busy.  People hustling everywhere, doing things.  The phone is ringing and ringing.  Again, we’re all busy.  He announces sarcastically to everyone, “Don’t worry about the phone.  I’ll get the phone.  I got it.”  Whatever he had been doing before was not time-critical to the rush.  Maybe he was folding a box or something.  “I’ll get the phone.”  I said, “Thanks for letting us know you’re finally going to do your job.”  That jibe cut him a little deep; he didn;t talk to me for about a week after that.]
And we have this other inside boy named Shane.  I–
Ugh.  I swear, some teen boys should be raised in a pasture with a high fence.  Electrified.  He’s a punk, through and through.  Sense of entitlement?  Check.  Doesn’t understand dick about anything?  Check?  Overly preoccupied with trying to look cool?  Check?  Unable to learn anything because he already knows it?  Double-check.
He has this car–I’m sure it’s a parent’s or something like that.  I hope, anyway.  Any adult who would give this retard a car should be locked up.  He’s always bragging about his car and how fast it is and how he can outrace anyone.  I don’t want to be that young and stupid again, if I ever was.
I’m leaving on a run about the time he got off work one night.  He hops in his car, revs it up, and keeps revving it up.  If it’s a stick, he’s using up the clutch.  If it’s an automatic, he’s even stupider.  I pull out, and I head down the line.  He pulls out real fast in front of me, causing me to brake.  Then he revs it some more and squeals the tires as he takes off.
I get to the light, and then he appears again.  Where did he come from?  Where did he go?  Who gives a shit?  He’s sitting at the light revving the engine.  He’s in the left turn lane, and I’m in the lane to go straight.  His light goes green, and he revs it and takes off, squealing the tires some more.
I know this is the old man in me, but he’s a fucking dumb ass.  Tires costs money.  A clutch costs money.  Gas costs money.  If he was paying for it, he wouldn’t be doing that to “his” car.
Honestly, I don’t even want to get to know him, because I don’t want to feel bad when he rolls his car and wraps it around a pole and dies.  He’ll do it all with a dumb expression on his face, the expression people have when they don’t understand the correlation between their actions and the consequences thereof.
We have Kelli, this girl.  This 20 year-old (“I’ll be 21 in two months!”) chick who started as a server during the day and then started to drive.  She’s short, she’s fat, and she loud and in everybody’s business.  She is so concerned that people are talking about her that she inserts herself into every conversation, and eavesdrops on everyone.  Christ, she bugs me.  Part of it, I can tell, is that if she gets a little attention she craves more.  She desperately wants to get laid.  I told Don that he’s going to end up fucking her.
“Christ!  Say it ain’t so!  Do I have to?”
Then, of course, we have my sweetheart, Courtney.  Courtney just had a birthday.  She just turned…17.  Wow.  She says I remind her of her dad.  So I have a year to turn that daddy complex into something viable.
Juuuuust kidding.  She’s a sweet girl, and one of my favorites there.  We talk, I gave her a ride home once (perfectly innocent!), and we have fun at work.

So that’s the people I work with.  And the people make all the difference.  Pizza is pizza.  Hell, pizza is as pizza does.  Pizza is the same, or different, or both, anywhere you go.  But the people are what make it interesting, and determine whether or not you want to go to work each day.
Although something else may be a determining factor as well:  Gas prices.  I swear to God, lately I feel like I’m losing money going to work.  I’m going to need to find another part time job, just because I can’t afford to work at this one.
Maybe the next job will be something not driving.

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Three Blind Mice

October 26, 2010 at 9:02 PM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | Leave a comment
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I’d hate to think it was just me, and luckily, it’s not.
A week or so ago, Don came up to me.  “Can you do me a favor?  Can you tell me where this is?”
He needed my help finding something on the map?  But he’s been here longer than me.  Obviously, he recognized the skills that I–
Looking at the map, he continued, “I left my damn glasses at home, and I can’t see if that’s the street I need.”
Oh.  Okay, then.  I get closer to the map, peer in, then drop my glasses because these damn no-line bifocals are only good for telling me that I can’t see something.  Close in, the map is a rendered in beautiful detail.  From a distance of three feet, it might as well be a plate of spaghetti.
I confirmed for him that it was indeed the street he wanted.
It’s a Monday night, so it’s a little slow and it’s a bit quiet, the way us older folk like it.  Not as many people here, and the ones that are working are more subdued, more low-key.  Courtney, for one–Courtney is not here.  She’s a loud, brash, energetic, peppy, perky 17-year old.  We don’t need that.  Not on a Monday.
I grab my run and amble to the van.  The van is easier to get in and out of than the car was–no bending down, no climbing out.  I just grunt and slide right over.  Nice.  In the dark, clear evening, against the backdrop of glare from porch lights, streetlights, and passing cars, I can’t make out a street sign to save my life, much less a number on the house.  Well, I know I’m close.  That sign–I can’t read it, but it doesn’t look long enough to be “Reddington.”  Keep going.
I should have used my old trick that I use to make sure I can find a street that is directly off of a busy drag–counting.  If I expect traffic to be heavy and I don’t want to slow down every ten feet and try to read a sign, I just count on the map:  “Elm is one, two, three, four streets past this light at Hurst.  Four.  If I get to William I went too far.”  But this was the middle of a subdivision; normally it’s not a problem.
The next street up could be the street I need.  The stop sign is obscured by a tree–on purpose, I’m sure–and when I pull around to see the side of it I need, I find it glowing with the light of the streetlight making a perfect back light.
So of course I can’t read it.  As I sit awkwardly in the middle of an intersection in this subdivision, a car cruises past me.  They slow down to see me squinting and looking up at a tree, from their perspective.  I can’t read the sign, but I think I see an “R.”  And the sign is long enough that it’s either Reddington or Remington.  Either way, I’m close.
I roll down the street and catch sight of a house number.  Or part of one.  I see a “53” and then a line.  Probably a 537.  Okay, good, I’m close, because what I’m looking for is 3556, and that was probably 3537.  Down about four or five houses on the other side.  Of course, that house has no light and no number that I can see.  But the house just past it I catch sight of a six and something that could be zero–either an O or a zero or possibly the letter Q, or even the Greek letter theta would be close at this point.
Confidently, I walk to the door.
And I walk away with a five dollar tip.  I’ve heard that when one of your senses is diminished, the others improve.  We already know that I’m going deaf.  I can’t hear about 80% of anything–and the rest I just ignore.  Since I’ve become a smoker, I feel like my sense of taste and smell are covered in a fine gray soot.  And now the eyes–
The eyes have always been bad.  I’ve been near-sighted since puberty.  Growing older has actually helped, because you become far-sighted.  These two-counter-acting energies have balanced each other out, and my eyes have stopped getting worse.  I think.  Well, there’s no change in acuity, but I can’t focus like I used to.  The ol’ eyeballs used to be able to change and change back, focus and refocus again, instantly, in split second, adjusting it’s size to the needed task and then snapping back quickly, like a sorority girl’s vagina.
Now my eyes are more like an old woman’s vagina.  They’re dry all the time, for one thing.  And there is no “snapping back” quickly.  Imagine rubber band that’s not a rubber band any more.  It’s just a string.  Tied in a knot.  Bottom line: whether it’s an old woman’s vagina or my eyes, you can’t see shit with either one.
So what sense have I gained, then?  I feel an increase in my sense of irony, ironically.  But what gets me by when my other senses have failed me is my sense of direction (it’s a real sense) and my audacity.  And my instincts.  I don’t have any other explanation for it, but man, can I ever find my way around like a Jedi.  And I might as well be driving around with one of the helmets on like Luke did.

Back at the store, my eyes adjust to the harsh indirect fluorescent light.  I have trouble seeing my way around, but I can feel, and I can smell.  I smell…
I smell pizza.
Okay, it’s not that bad, really.  But this is the part of growing old that bugs me.  I don’t like to have to–I don’t want to just accept it.  I don’t want to acquiesce, dammit.  I’m 45 years old, and I still feel–up here, in my head–like a kid.  How can my body be getting old when my brain is still teenager?
I was distracted from my temporary dementia by The Dude.  “Hey, man, can you show me where this street is?  I’ve been there before but I keep forgetting…”

Coffee House Jamboree

January 27, 2010 at 3:30 PM | Posted in Journal | Leave a comment
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Eclectic in measure,
But I don’t like the coffee
Where Suits and Hippies mingle.
A student writes a paper
And an artist sits and broods–
Because that’s what they do.
A young black businesswoman
And a gay Asian preppie are
Served by the perky goth chick
Who doesn’t get irony.
Stereotypes have run amok here,
At this intersection of life and caffeine–
And it lends to my feeling of hipness.
I feel very cool sitting here;
The atmosphere is electric,
Even with the old people
Who read the obits like racing forms. 

What eluded me as a young man
I have finally achieved
And it’s bittersweet:
Middle-aged, fat, and cranky,
I’m cooler than I ever was when I was
Fresh-faced, wide-eyed, innocent and clumsy.
Now grizzled and wary on the outside,
Bitter and jaded on the inside–
I’ve developed layers.
I feel like a swollen Kurt Vonnegut,
Thinking deep thoughts of civil unrest
And a bagel thick with cream cheese.
The detached and disaffected youth
Think they are cool because
They are jaded and disgusted with society,
But they got nothing on the adults.
Listen, punks:  if you think you are jaded now,
Let’s see how you feel after you
Helplessly pay taxes that you can’t afford
To a government you don’t trust
To pay for shit you don’t believe in
And your hopes and dreams fade away
Like your energy and good looks.
Your life and your youth will slip easily
From your fingers and be replaced with
Poor vision and knees that hurt all the time.
For over twenty years I’ve been an adult.
Or at least for the last two or three…
I don’t know if I’m more angry about
what is happening or that I can’t do
Anything about it.

Sitting here in shorts and black dress socks
And a shirt that doesn’t quite fit–
I am a rebel and an anarchist.
I feel very cool.
If only I could get the goth chick’s attention;
I need more coffee, but she thinks
I’m a creep because I stare at her cleavage.
I’m not really a pervert.  Well, maybe.
It just reminds me of the promise of youth–
Christ, I need some decaf.

You can all snap your fingers now.

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