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Pizza Blues by the Slice: Brian Schropp on Cuisine

February 4, 2015 Leave a comment Go to comments
By Brian Schropp

By Brian Schropp

Well, it was bound to happen sometime. I knew the game was up when BOTH my Mom and Dad sat me down at the table.

“Son, we are just going to be as straightforward with this as possible. We found you a job, you start tomorrow and you’re going to keep this one.”

” But Dad I—”

“A PAYING job,” my Mom burst in, knowing I was going to bring up my food critic gig for this paper.
“You will work forty hours a week and every cent you earn will go back to pay for the lawsuit Hank Cameron won.” (YES, this did happen but through a court order I am not allowed to write details).

“But Dad I–”

“No more about him being a jerk. The Judge said you had to let it go and also stay four hundred feet away from him at all times,” my Mom chimed in again with a steel-glazed look in her eyes.

There were a few moments of awkward silence.

“So where am I heading to?” I asked.

“I happen to know the owner of “Pizza ‘A’ Round” which is on the Southwest side off Deep Northern Suburban Lankville Plaza. In fact, he is an old college friend of mine.”

I dropped my head on the table and groaned. “That’s the worst pizza place around. Only the really poor and people who don’t know any better order from there. I will lose all my cred working at a place like that.”

‘My old friend is taking you on knowing the reputation who have made for yourself. He’s sticking his neck out. If his insurance company knew he was hiring you his rates would skyrocket. You will go in there, do the job, do whatever they tell you in fact.”

“Please guys I beg, I am delicate— you know, other relatives say so.”

“Jesus Christ,” my Mom muttered under her breath.

“You will be ready to go by 8:30 tomorrow morning.”

Waking up that early!!! I knew in my heart this was going to be a disaster. I tossed and turned in bed that night thinking about starting this job– even wearing my “footie” PJs offered me little relief. I tried my CB to get a hold of my friend Trucker Joe but he was clear across Lankville and came in scrambled. With no one to turn to, I lay in dread with thoughts about the horrors that awaited me.

The next morning came quicker than I hoped. I heard my parents and siblings get up and start getting ready. This was the time I usually thought about what type of breakfast sandwich I would be having or what daytime game show I would watch after everyone would leave. But not any more, I was entering the real world.
Finally the knock came at my basement apartment door and my Dad stuck his head in– “Time to get up now.”

After he left I slowly got up and dressed into my “Pizza ‘A’ Round” standard uniform. I endured the snickers of my fellow siblings as my head hung low at the breakfast table. There was a very slight concern when I stated I wasn’t hungry but I forced down a strawberry toaster pastry for the long morning ahead. Then it was off in the car fighting the traffic and listening to the “witty banter” of Lankville’s favorite morning DJ’s on 102.3 “The Beat”. I could have still been in my bathrobe microwaving my third bacon egg biscuit but alas.

My father dropped me off right at the front door of the “Pizza ‘A’ Round”. There were no speeches, no promises– he sped off while I walked to the front door. The place didn’t open for a few hours so the door was locked, I tried the handle a few times out of sheer lack of not knowing what to do. After a few minutes of just standing there, a slightly large and scary man noticed me and came to the door. “Hey, new guy! You’re late!” Tension already at the workplace, I started shaking slightly and mumbled about the door being locked.

My manager Scott has this picture of himself on his desk.

My manager Scott has this picture of himself on his desk.

“You didn’t see the buzzer next to the door?”

It was then that I noticed the buzzer next to the door. His eyes bore into me like the rage of a thousand burning suns. “Just get in here.”

We went inside and into a small office. He said his name was Scott and was the manager of the place, the owner’s “right hand man” so to speak. “Before we start anything Bri, the paperwork, the business of pizza- making, the art of the sale I need to ask you one question. How do you feel about gun control?”

I am in my heart of hearts a truly liberal man. I believe that most difficulties could be resolved with a nice chat over breakfast sandwiches instead of violence. But I saw the picture on his desk and knew what my answer was going to be.

“You can’t really have enough guns,” I blurted out quickly. “I mean, you never know who will attack you or how many might attack at one time.”

His eyes bore into me again to see if I was telling the truth. Somehow, I passed. “Yeah, especially South Lankvillians– you can’t trust them.”

He then rattled on about guns for a few minutes. I zoned him out for awhile and took a look out the office window into the pizza place. To be honest, the industrial complex that laid before me was a little intimidating. The pizza oven was huge and roared with life. The puzzling topping stations– one for pizza and a whole other one for subs. The dough-making area– there was already a person there slapping and whirling it in the air like a skilled circus performer. The row of telephones which at this early hour was already ringing. I was going to have to learn all of this!!

Scott could tell I had lost focus on his rant. He placed his hand on my shoulder and squeezed slightly hard. “Just remember, I’m the boss around here and I have guns.”

We walked out of the office and over to the ovens. “So Bri, I haven’t even asked you yet, have you ever worked in a pizza place before? Handled one of these ovens? One of these bad boys?”

I tried to explain about being a notable food critic for the Lankville paper and my long history of enjoying delivery pizza. He stopped me after awhile.

“Have you ever worked a real job before?”

I told him about various part part-time jobs I had had. “Pete’s Slacks Emporium” (probably the longest running job) and “The Jingle Jangle” (which sold the little bells you could put on your Santa hat at Xmas time).

He shook his head slightly. “Thought you haven’t, can always smell you guys out. I once had a guy in here much like you not making anything of his life and thought he could handle the pizza trade. We made the mistake of putting him on the ovens the first day. I need to show you a picture of what happened to his hand. I’m sorry but you need to realize the seriousness of this job.”

He took out a picture and was truly horrified.

The picture Scott showed me.

The picture Scott showed me.

“Poor bastard didn’t stand a chance. The real shame of it all was the burn looked so much like cheese it was accidentally sent with a pizza.”

I told Scott I was feeling a bit whoozy and needed a small break. He shook his head slightly yet again and nodded over to the phones. “The phones for some reason have started ringing early. Probably school has been delayed and these damn fat high schoolers want a pizza before going. Sorry Bri, no time to really train you. Just going to have to throw you in there.”

It was then I realized that the phones I noticed from Scott’s office were only the first row of telephones. There were three other rows where a number of people were already dashing about answering and taking orders.

I slowly made my way over to start—-

Next article- Pizza Blues By The Slice Pt.2 “My Work day Begins”

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