Workin’ at the Pizza Shop
Many of our dear readers, as well as writers, more than likely spent their teenage years working a menial food service job. It just so happens that I spent the bulk of my teenage years working for two very different pizza-centric establishments. Once I was able to secure my driver’s license, I was faced with one huge fossil-fuel based problem: the need to fill the tank of my gas-guzzling 1993 Chevrolet Corsica. You know the ones, dull gray with reddish accents, garish dark red interior, a proud “3.1L V-6” badge adorning the fender. That was a lot of engine for the lead foot that I have yet to lighten some 15 years later.
So I was faced with the two unenviable choices: either I ask my parents for money with no chance at getting any without some kind of mundane household chore, or get a haircut and get a real job. I set out to put in applications at places that didn’t require me to do back-breaking tasks. My father really championed working on a farm, not realizing that his son preferred reading books, playing Magic the Gathering, and not waking up early, etc.
With some assistance from one of my compatriots, I landed a job that summer busing tables and bringing pizzas out of the kitchen to the register at an Italian restaurant on the wrong side of the tracks, literally. This particular establishment specialized in what we NEPA folks call the “Garlic Pizza.” This pizza is known to everyone else in the multiverse as a White Pizza, but we strive to be different in my little corner of Appalachia. The garlic pizza at this place was really good and to some, life-altering. Since no one comes back to live where I am from due to myriad factors that include no jobs, no amenities, drugs, etc., the owner of the restaurant placed a giant map of the world behind the bar with pins marking all of the places half-baked or unbaked garlic pizzas had been shipped throughout the world. Just to give you an idea of how good this pizza is, Sydney, Australia had a pin. That was in 2004.
The recipe is a closely guarded secret, but really it is a pizza dough on a rectangular sheet pan, garlic butter or oil brushed onto the dough, enough garlic powder that results in you giving off a smell that, and I haven’t checked this, violates some kind of international treaty. Pick one. Finally, and I hope you are sitting down, American cheese followed by MORE garlic powder. Please note that I watched it being made whilst doing my job around 15 years ago, but that is the gist of the recipe.
The owner and his brother could not be more stereotypical Italian-American dudes. The cooler brother was the bartender and looked like an Italian James Earl Jones. I say “cooler” because he was a Red Sox fan while his brother, the owner, worshiped the Yankees. I try to be a nice guy, but if you like the Yankees, then I have a hard time liking you. This restaurant only had two pizzas on the menu, which is something I probably should have mentioned before. The second pizza is a largely unheralded meat sauce pizza which is essentially the same dough, but with the BEST meat sauce you’ll ever have and the right kind of cheese, mozzarella. It is better than the garlic pizza in my humble opinion, but people aren’t asking for it to be shipped halfway across the world, even if that were practical. All good things come to an end and with the summer coming to a close and school starting, not to mention soccer two-a-days, I was forced to resign as busboy/ vice president of the pizza checkout.
Fast forward to sometime in the spring. Remember that lead foot I mentioned before? Well, it got me in some trouble. It didn’t take me long to finally get caught buzzing down one of the side streets adjacent to my high school at a cool 45 MPH in a 25 MPH zone. It was at this point that a unilateral agreement my father dreamed up caused me to lose the privilege of him bankrolling my car insurance. I was once again in search of a job. This time I landed at America’s premier pizza delivery chain, Dominoes. I couldn’t actually deliver pizzas, as I was not 18, but I was a wiz on the phones and make line.
This Dominoes lacked the character, and characters, of my previous gig, but it paid more and afforded me the chance to participate in one of my favorite pastimes, eating junk food. Dominoes claims to revolutionize the pizza delivery industry, but their real racket is collecting data and churning out pizzas, and other foods, at a head-spinning rate. My second pizza-related job was a lot less interesting, but still to this day, my absolute favorite thing to get from Dominoes is a thin crust pizza with pepperoni and green peppers. My tenure at Dominoes ended by the following spring when I committed the treasonous act of taking Super Bowl Sunday off. It’s an unspoken and unwritten rule that the Super Bowl is all hands on deck. According to the fun facts portion of their website, they sell 2 million pizzas on Super Bowl Sunday. Thus, my career trajectory of potentially breaking into the delivery game to make that tip money was at an end.
Pizza is a food that never gets old and can be enjoyed in infinite ways, but some of us just aren’t cut out for a career in America’s pizza-industrial complex.