Home > Cuisine by Brian Schropp > Pizza for Pondicherry, Part II

Pizza for Pondicherry, Part II

Brian Schropp on Cuisine

Brian Schropp on Cuisine

The minutes were counting down to the most important pizza the ‘Pizza-A-Round’ would ever make. You could start to see the crust coming through the pizza oven and in turn men’s hearts beating faster. The other components for the’ Mid Morning Snack Pizza’ needed to be in place.

“Where the hell are the nuggets Charlie?!!” my manager, Scott asked not so nicely while cleaning the actual pizza box it was going in. Everything had to be pristine since this was going to President Pondicherry himself, nothing less would do.

“In the fryer now,” Charlie the nugget guy yelled over. “You said you wanted them as crisp as possible so I waited to the last minute. Don’t worry they will be done.” Scott probably wouldn’t trust anyone else saying that. But Charlie the Nugget Guy was a seasoned veteran– he knew what he was doing.

“Burgers and fries– someone tell me about them!!” Scott was using the cleanest pizza rag possible to clean the edges of the box.

Chet Cameron, one of the best.

Chet Cameron, one of the best.

Al Slappy was in charge of those– maybe not the best guy under pressure. “I-I forgot the ketchup on the cheeseburgers– gotta open up the buns to put it on!!” We all know that’s a dicey situation– the bun could be damaged with the melting cheese sticking to the burger.

Scott gave a sideways glance which would make the hardest of men’s heart stop. “You better pray to whatever God you do that you don’t fuck this up. Lou get over there and help him, make sure the buns are ok and the fries are going to be ready.”

‘Two Toe’ Lou was another veteran who should of been doing it in the first place. He had only two toes from the multiple times fryer oil fell on his feet, that’s how long he has been in the game.

The pizza was a quarter way out of the oven, so far looking good. The best person on the line and probably one of the best of all time, Chet Cameron (nephew of Hank Cameron, manager of Foodville) slapped the dough out and sauced it.

‘Big’ James who is in charge of the nachos ran up with a paper cup that was full to the brim cheese. “Got this ready Scott!!”

“There is no motherlovin’ nacho cheese on this pizza!” Scott smacked the cup right out of ‘Big’ James’s hands causing the boiling hot cheese to splatter into the large man’s face. He ran off screaming, some were really losing it under the pressure.

I was back by this time– cleaned up as best as I could. Not only did this pizza have to be perfect but we needed to get there ridiculously fast. There were no drivers who were going to make it back in time so I was going to have to run it. Yes, it was an impossible task but we had no other choice.

My manager Scott relaxing at home.

My manager Scott relaxing at home.

Scott grabbed my shoulders and looked me up and down. “Guess it will do,” he kept muttering under his breath. Then he yelled, “Melvin bring over one of the CBs and some duct tape!”

“Why?”

“JUST DO IT!!!” Most of us who worked at the Pizza-A-Round had the feeling thatour new assistant manager, Melvin wasn’t going to make it through the night.

Scott took the CB and the duct tape and strapped the unit around my chest and the receiver around my ear. “You won’t be able to respond this is just for me to yell at you in hopes that it will help.”

The pizza was coming out of the oven, Scott raced back over and grabbed the oven peel. With the skill of a true pizza veteran he scooped it out perfectly and placed it squarely in the box. There was some light applause but Scott didn’t have any time for that. “Nuggets now!!”

Charlie the nugget guy was over with two huge oven mits holding the deep fryer net, the nuggets were still sizzling when they hit the pizza.

“Burgers and fries!! Burgers and fries!!”

Al Slappy brought the fries over the same way, then ran back and got two cheeseburgers. He handed them to Scott.

“I needed three cheeseburgers!! Pondicherry ordered an extra freakin’ one!!!” It was almost an inhuman yell.

‘Two Toe’ Lou limped past Al with a third cheeseburger. He had quickly realized the mistake and rushed to make another one. Somehow during this process he lost another toe which we could clearly see (for some reason Lou only wore beach sandals which could of been half the problem). Right now that couldn’t be the top concern. With everything on the pizza itself the box was closed immediately to keep it at its hottest. The box was placed in my hands.

No words were exchanged between Scott and I–his eyes told the whole story. I also knew there would be plenty of yelling coming my way through the CB taped to my ear. Without missing a beat Scott moved to the front door shoving customers out of the way while I followed closely on his heels. I wished that annoying girl and her boyfriend were coming in right now instead of a few minutes earlier, I would have LOVED to see those two get knocked down.

​The Mid-Morning Snack Pizza which retails for $29.95

​The Mid-Morning Snack Pizza which retails for $29.95

As fate would have it I could see both of them laughing at me from the front window of the dining area when I was out on the sidewalk. I didn’t have much time to process it with Scott’s foot hitting my backside. “Run!!”
I started with a light jog since this wasn’t usually my thing but with Scott yelling at me from behind I was worried he would simply shoot me and try running it himself. I was in a full run (sweat already dripping from under my ‘Pizza-A-Round’ cap) by the time my booty was out of the parking lot and onto the road.

It was of course the evening rush hour and the roads were super super crazy. Things were made even more difficult with me sticking to the actual road and not the sidewalks in hopes of taking the most direct route possible. Cars were swerving out of the way, honking their horns, shaking their fists, even spitting at me. I kept yelling “Presidential pizza delivery!!” at the top of my lungs while the sweat poured down my face in hopes that would help. No luck, I think the drivers just couldn’t hear me. It also didn’t help matters with Scott yelling in my ear telling me to “hurry up” and “move my big ass faster”. I knew he didn’t mean most of the hateful things he would say over the CB, in fact we are actually pretty good friends, he was just stressed out.

A small ray of hope came when my former therapist, Dr.Nickelbee came driving slowly up behind in his electric car causing a traffic mess of his own. He rolled down his window. “Bri I need to talk with you.”

“Not now can’t you see I am making a Presidential pizza delivery?” I replied between heavy breaths.

“It’s important. We can talk while I drive you.” What choice did I have?

He pulled the little car over and I got in. As always, he put his hand on my knee right away. “Listen, I need to apologize to you about the way I acted the other day during our session.” (Please see my article from a few weeks ago for the details). “It was so wrong for me to lose it like that.”

“It’s OK, no worries, can you just drive now? I need to make this delivery.” The screaming in my ear wouldn’t let me forget.

Dr. Nickelbee paused for a second before collapsing into a full crying breakdown– banging his head against the steering wheel. “I just don’t want to lose you as a patient.”
“We need to go!” I could the feel the pizza losing its warmth from the box which was on my lap.

“I need you to tell me I can be your therapist again.”

“JUST DRIVE!”

“JUST SAY IT!!”

“Yes-yes now drive!”

Dr. Nickelbee-- what is his problem?

Dr. Nickelbee– what is his problem?

With that we were off with Dr. Nickelbee still sobbing. His electric car is very slow and soon I realized it was probably quicker with me running again. It really didn’t matter– a few blocks later the car came to a stop, I guess the battery had died. He got out still sobbing, banging his fists up and down on the hood of the car. I couldn’t stop to deal with this. I was out of the car and on my way again leaving him to deal with the angry commuters he was holding up.

It was then that the problem of super squirrels came into play. Once they smelled the delicious aroma of the ‘Mid Morning Snack’ goodness and sensed that I was alone they were on my tail. I eventually had to raise the pizza above my head in an attempt to keep it safely intact. I kept shooing them off as best as I could without stopping. The only good thing to come out of the situation was when one of the squirrels bit through the CB wire, stopping the yelling in my ear.

When I finally made it to the presidential grounds the sun was starting to set and I knew I was far too late. And I knew that the ‘Pizza-A-Round’ would be going down in flames like the many others who attempted a quick delivery to our chief executive.

I slowly walked up to the guard booth where I was warmly greeted by the person on duty. He had gratefully shot at the super squirrels chasing them away when he saw me coming. “Say there son you sure are a big stinky sweaty mess.”

I handed over the box mumbling about trying to get there as quick as possible and if there was anybody to blame it was Dr. Nickelbee holding the whole thing up and he should go to prison. Then a desperate plea not to shut down my place of work.

When he realized what I was talking about the guard started to chuckle. “Say son, this pizza isn’t for the President, do you think he would eat crap like this?” The guard whistled and Pondicherry’s three dogs (all named Mr. Peepers} came running out. The guard open the box and then put it on the ground so the dogs could go to town on it. “He ordered this for these lovable mutts before vanishing into one of his underground bunkers for the night. There was no hurry in bringing it– hell, it could been another hour if need be.”

That dear readers is just another crazy night in the pizza trade. Until next time, please keep your mind and mouth open to new ideas. Happy eating- Bri

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