Six Weeks

October 30, 2010 at 3:56 PM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | Leave a comment
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November 1989

I had been out of work for six weeks.  The longest period of unemployment in my life so far, and in fact since then–knock on wood.
Six weeks is a long time for someone used to working.  I had been fired from the warehouse job, due to my inability to look behind me when I back up–what am I, an owl?  It had less to do with what I did than when I did it–we had moved to a new facility and they needed to set a standard, and I was made an example.
Or possibly the owner’s wife had cast my horoscope and decided it was time for me to move on…
Either way, I was SOL.
A week later, I went by the warehouse to pick up my last check.  My wife and I were down to one car, which worked well when I was working third shift.  It worked even better when I didn’t have a job.  On this day, I took her to work so I could have the car.
I walked in, said hi to a few of the people, but I didn’t know these guys.  I worked thirds, and rarely saw these people.  On the way out, I happened to cross paths with Bill Henry–owner, operator, and CEO of Henry’s transportation.
We chatted briefly, and I tried to remain calm.  There was something I wanted to ask him, if he gave me an opening.
“Can you give me my job back?”
He looked away, averted his eyes, and made some answer that was essentially a no.  But he couldn’t look me in the eye when he said it.
Not when I had my 18-month old infant son asleep on my shoulder.

I had applied for unemployment, and I did receive some.  But then there was a hearing, because I had been fired.  Henry’s wanted to deny my claim.  I didn’t go to the hearing.  I received four weeks of 138 dollar payments, and then had to pay back about two or three hundred dollars.
We were hurting for money, and I was looking for work…but I don’t think I was looking very hard.  I don’t know what happened.  But we did call our bishop from church, and he hooked us up with the storehouse, so that we were able to get food.
I didn’t have to do anything when I went there, but of course I felt obligated.  I would help out for a few hours, packing up other orders, helping load a truck, and things like that. After that I load up my own order in the car, about half a dozen paper bags full of groceries and staples.
It was into November, and still no work.  I talked to people I knew–no leads.  Well, I had done pizza before, I can do it again, I thought.  While we lived in Jennings, we would frequent Florissant because that’s where my parents lived, and I could mooch a few things from them.  On Lindbergh there was a Domino’s–but I had done that before, so why would I want to do that again?  Across the street was a Pizza Hut and also a small chain place called E’s Pizza.
The manager at Pizza Hut was almost hostile.  “Sorry, not hiring right now.”  He brusquely turned away to other matters.
At E’s, I asked for an application and got one.  Okay, that’s a start.  I was hopeful.  I turned it in a few days later.  I let it go a couple of days, then called, asking for the manager.  He’s not in.  Click.  Fuck me.  I’ll try again tomorrow.
The next day was Friday, and I called E’s again.  Can I talk to whomever is in charge?  I got an assistant manager on the phone.  I explained that I had put in an application a few days ago, and was there any prospect–
“Yeah, I don’t really know.  I don’t think we’re really looking for anyone right now.”
Maybe I shouldn’t have put all my hopes and expectations in one basket, because they just got crushed.  I had my head in my hands, sitting on the couch.  Baby Mitchell sat on the floor playing with something I probably shouldn’t have let him have.  On the coffee table in front of me was the Yellow Pages, opened to the page with E’s Pizza on it, because I had to look up the number to call them.
I looked at it, and saw the ad for Domino’s Pizza.  I don’t want to go back there, I don’t.  And would they take me back?  But…the process started to roll through my brain…the franchise I had worked for didn’t own ALL the Domino’s.  That one in Florissant, for instance, was owned by another company.  What could it hurt?
I got the number, but I wasn’t hopeful about the prospects.  It was about 1 pm on a Friday, and I didn’t expect the manager to be working dayshift.  Hesitantly, I made the call.
“Domino’s Pizza–”
“Yeah..hi.  I was hoping to maybe talk to a manager, or–”
“This is Keith, I’m the manager.”
I perked up.  “Oh, great.  I was wondering if you might be hiring.  I was an MIT for A&M before, but I was looking to drive, or something like that.”  I tightened up, expecting to get the big blow off.
He said, “We had back to back 75 pie hours last night, and we expect to be even busier tonight.  You could work inside for the weekend, and drive when your MVR comes back in a few days.  Wanna do that?”
Holy shit, do I ever!  “Yeah!  That’d be great!  When do you want me to be there?”
“Between 4 and 430, so we can get your paperwork started.  What’s your name?”
“Alright, Bryan, we’ll see you around four.”
“Terrific!  Thanks, I’ll see you then.”
Holy shitfuck, I just got hired.  Over the phone, no less.
Of course, I had just been hired for a driving job.  And we had one car.  How am I–Never mind.  I got a job.  I’ll work out the details later.  For now, I had to make some calls.
The wife was excited, too, and happy that her shiftless, directionless, lazy husband had found a job.  I was going to have to go pick her up, bring her and the baby home, and then head off to work.  I needed to–
Geez, I needed to take a shower.  And shave–I looked like I was preparing for deer season.  How do you do this with a baby?
Mitchell was happy–I was happy, and he responded to my enthusiasm with baby laughter and a big smile.  I swooped him up and put him in his high chair that I brought into the bathroom, playing and talking with him as I did.  I gave him some cereal to eat or play with, his choice, as I talked to him about my new job in an excited voice while I shaved and took a shower, and kept an eye on him.  I thought I was pretty ingenious for figuring out how to do this.  I got dressed, got him changed and cleaned up, and we were ready to go.
I believe this was about two weeks before Thanksgiving.  I still had my khaki pants that I wore when I worked at Domino’s before.


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