Home > Cuisine by Brian Schropp > Pizza Blues by the Slice, Part Two: My Work Day Begins

Pizza Blues by the Slice, Part Two: My Work Day Begins

February 10, 2015 Leave a comment Go to comments
By Brian Schropp

By Brian Schropp

Brian Schropp on Cuisine

So the day started with the phones at the “Pizza-A-Round” blaring and flashing all around me. I walked slowly over to them in a daze knowing the first call I took would send me into the downward spiral of the everyday workforce. My manager Scott gave me a supportive push from behind and a “Hurry up!! These fat teenagers want their pizza before school starts!”

An order form was slapped in front of me and my hand forced onto the ringing receiver; I picked up and the true chaos began. Order after order from what Scott wisely guessed- fat high schoolers wanting some delicious pizza pie before a delay in starting their undervalued education. They talked quick and with that Southwestern Deep Northern Suburban drawl which is hard to understand- I scribbled down whatever I heard the best I could. Pepperoni, double pepperoni, pepperoni on one side and on the other side nothing but crust, pepperoni in between the cheese then cut up pepperoni on top, these fat kids wanted it all sorts of ways. Then the deals and coupons, the “Pizza-A-Round” had no less than 42 different promotions going on at once. Martha, the woman who helped work my row of phones and was put in charge of “coaching” me was none too pleased with my order sheets.

Martha (not wanting her picture taken).

Martha (not wanting her picture taken).

“What the hell is all this scribble!! Haven’t you been listening to anything I have been barking at you?!!!”
The truth was I really wasn’t. She seemed to be from Deep Southeastern Deep Northern Suburban Lankville and their accents are a bit on the harsh side. I mumbled some apologizes with the promise of picking things up faster.

“You better or Scott will not be too pleased. He told you about the guns, right?”-
I nodded while picking up for the next order.
“And the picture with the hand?” She smirked. “You think that was an accident?”
With the horror of that picture flooding my mind again, I accidentally snapped the pencil I was taking the orders with and had to put the call on hold (which I hung up on by accident).
“Jesus Christ” Martha muttered under her breath (just like my Mom does!!)

For the next twenty minutes the orders continued to flood in. I could hear from shouts by the oven and prep stations that some orders were wrong and undoubtedly some were mine. When I mentioned this to Martha she said they were probably all mine. When the phones died down Martha took me to Scott’s office where he was reviewing the accuracy of my orders. I could tell by his slight head shaking it wasn’t good.

“Well, Bri out of the 108 orders you took in the last hour and a half only 8% of them were any sort of accurate. We still have drivers on routes trying to figure addresses out and customers complaining about wrong orders. Who the hell orders a pizza with just half pepperoni and the other half just crust?”

I tried to explain that that was a lot of orders to take in just an hour and a half.

“I know I kinda threw you to the wolves but that was just a minor rush because of a school delay. The lunch rush is going to be four times as bad!!”

“You’re going to be really thrown to the wolves then!!” Martha said, putting in her two cents worth while slapping my backside (which she had been doing the whole morning– it was making me a bit uncomfortable).

“Listen, maybe we will put you off the phones until after the lunch rush and put you on the prep station for now.” Scott then lifted his shirt slightly to reveal a handgun sticking out from his waistband.- “And hey, let’s start to really try and pick things up. Remember, I have guns.”

So I was moved to the prep area where I was introduced to Chet. Chet was real polite to Scott’s face but started bad mouthing him once he was gone. “That dude thinks he real tough and all but without his guns he couldn’t do jack shit.”

Chet, who promised we would be "best co-worker pals".

Chet, who promised we would be “best co-worker pals”.

I asked him if he ever saw the picture of the hand.

He looked at me for a few moments. “You really think that picture’s real? He made that hand after hours to scare people. I told you he’s a real shit.” Chet put his arm around me. “Don’t worry about him or anybody else around here, stick with me we are going to become best co-worker pals.”

He showed me the toppings area which had no less than 73 different toppings. The area was a huge mess. “Scott is always getting onto me about keeping clean. But how can you after a big rush like that? And hey if anything falls on the ground we have a five second rule that it’s still good to use.”

Chet said we had to restock the toppings area. He walked me to the vast mazes of walk-in refrigerators and freezers in the back. I asked if we were going to need a jacket or gloves or anything like that, he just shook his head and put his arm around me again. “No way buddy, we will be quick.”

He took me to the coldest freezer first, the pepperoni freezer. “For some reason all these asshole customers love it.” He opened the freezer door and cold freezing air came billowing out, I backed up a little and rubbed my arms for warmth. “Don’t be a chicken-shit, just walk in there and grab some pepperoni sticks.”

I walked slowly up and stuck my head in, there was a small light on because the door was open. I saw shelves upon shelves of pepperoni in various states of frozen. It was almost like a winter wonderland.

And then, suddenly, I felt a foot kick my backside and I fell face-first into the frost. I was able to turn myself around on the slippery floor to see Chet laughing with his hands on his waist. I started to shake not only from the cold but from the sense of dread that was now filling me.

“That was for my Uncle Hank, you’ve done a real number on him recently but now it’s time for a little revenge.” It was then that I noticed his full name tag “Chet Cameron”, this was the nephew of Hank Cameron, Manager of Foodville and my sworn nemesis. “Now you are going to sit in there and think about what you done.”

He slammed the door laughing madly. I was enclosed in darkness and the freezing cold. It took no time for the bitter chill to set in and I curled myself into a ball and tried my best to keep warm. I tried not to think about what would happen when I was found, I needed to put my thoughts into staying alive. Time passed one icey moment at a time, I must of been in there for hours. I picked up a frozen stick of pepperoni to gnaw on once the hunger pains set in but it did little good. My thoughts turned to stories my Dad told me of my Great Uncle Randolf who fought in the front lines of the “Great Lankville War of 1947” and how he had to suffer through below zero temperatures. I now knew Great Uncle Randolf’s pain. Time passes more slowly and after awhile I knew death was close. Then I heard the sweet song of the bumpkins and a light, a beautiful white light.

The light turned out to be my manager Scott opening up the freezer door and the outside light coming in blinding me. “There the hell you are!! What are you doing, taking a nap on the job?!!”

Picture of my manager Scott relaxing at home.

Picture of my manager Scott relaxing at home.

He yanked me out of the pepperoni freezer. I tried to tell him how I was pushed in there and how I was close to death.

“You were only in there 15 minutes, 20 tops,” Scott’s eyes bore into me. “And the freezer can open from the other side. It would be a death trap if it couldn’t!!”

“It never occurred to me that the freezer door could open that way,” I said, still dazed from my ordeal.

“That’s it,” Scott said grabbing me by the arm. “I’m taking you out back by the dumpsters to have a real talk with you!!”

For the second time today I saw my life ending in a horrible fashion. If this is how “real” full time employment is supposed to be, I really don’t want any part of it. We made it to the back door before his cell phone went off, luckily he stopped to answer it.

I could tell by his end of the conversation that he was talking to the owner (the old friend of my dad’s) and it was about me. Scott pleaded his case for “letting me go” but it fell on deaf ears. He was given a reason for keeping me on and it seemed to shock him a great deal but he wouldn’t let me know. Whatever the reason was he seemed to lighten up a bit with me, he grabbed my shoulder slightly hard “Listen Bri, maybe we got off on the wrong foot. The pizza trade can be tough to learn especially for someone like you. Let’s put you on washing dishes for the rest of the day and start again “new” the next time you are in.” I did learn he made a deal with the owner just to keep me on part-time instead of full-time which will give me time to write more for the paper!!! And it turned out I did the dishes wrong that day, you need to use HOT water not cold to make them clean.

My part time gig isn’t turning out to be that bad, I’m learning things ‘slowly but surely”. Chet apologized for his behavior but still plays “pranks” on me and Martha is still slapping my backside (but I’m sorta enjoying that now). Anyways, I will have more adventures for you soon from the “Pizza-A-Round” plus all my other food critic stories you have come to love.

So until next time, keep your mind and mouth open to new ideas.

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