Dear Mom and Dad,
Remember when I got that second job at a pizza joint to pay off that bookie because I mistakenly put four thousand dollars down on the New York Yankees to clinch a win at Super Bowl XLVII in my first attempts at betting on sport?
(Don’t worry, I’ll be smarter in the game this year…I really think the Bruins are going to tank against the Nuggets)
Well I needed you to know I’m a better person for having gained the experience there.
Fore score and many a pie ago, as you know I began what I will now refer to as an ascent into the luxurious world of pizza making. Take pause on your assumptions other readers, for this was no Dominos, no hut serving pan crust once frozen, no establishment run by some Papa. This was your very classy run of the mill pizza parlor complete with connected bar.
It was a joyous event that fell into my lap because I had applied for a position of delivery man, and three months later sans automobile I was called upon to serve a higher purpose in life to tackle that pesky debt.
Now there are a few things I learned working at this unbelievable and incredible establishment, a service of explanation I would be deemed unjust for not explaining to the kind folk of the world, and you…the creators of the wonderful human that is me.
Let us begin and try to follow along, it has even a few months since I have made any dough here (zing, pun intended):
1. When you work in a pizza shop, I mean absolutely work-cook, clean, run, and ring, you develop relationships with everyone you work with as with what I assume are most jobs. You gain bonding experiences without which you would be out of the loop as to who got drunk and hooked up with whatever last night, who stormed off quietly by having a not so delicate conversation with the owner about their illegal activities, and who or what was occurring in the walk in cooler while you weren’t there.
Side note: I heard, but cannot confirm, that butt-cheeks will freeze to metal if held against it long enough.
2. Pizza shop owners are like unicorns. At their best, they ride high like the wind, slaying dough, and slathering the breaded goods of the world in a marinara cheese combo to produce a parm so majestic that it absolutely should have a sparkling horn attached to it.
On the contrasting side, they could have a gnarly cocaine habit and be a fall over drunk that likes to finger-blast the young delivery girls in an attempt to re-live what they refer to as their golden years.
(side note Mom, the current owners-as it transferred hands a bit after I started-are much cleaner and reputably honorable gentlemen, so that’s why I praise the food still. Also, finger blasting is a term I learned working here…I assume it’s when you make a gun out of your hand and yell things like ‘pew pew’ or ‘bang bang’ at people, but I’m not sure…so, sorry for the grey area)
Hark, it smells of oregano and shame in this here establishment!
3. Avoid the foods you know get dropped into a fryilator. I know, I know…give me your tired, your poor, your tenders and fries! We all like them because they’re yummy and frankly because the world is filled with people who like to dip shit in other shit. If you don’t you’re weird and my condolences to your poor palate.
I’ll make this short: in high volume food service, a fryilator should get cleaned once a week because the oil turns black and all the pieces that fall off burn and congeal on the bottom. It takes me thirty five to forty minutes to clean one and I am efficient. Most places have a cook that drains, wipes it down with an already used rag, and refills it. If I’m cleaning, fry whatever you like. If I’m not, odds are ew.
4. Delivery drivers can be dicks to the cooks. Fun fact, they make bank and anyone in the store, unless your manager has the last name Christ and the first name Jesus, doesn’t get to share in the wealth. They pray for your misfortune in financial givings and hope to god you walk out with two bucks a night so they have forty three deliveries.
It’s sad, but life in pizza land tends to often revolve around just the tip.
You can also up your chances for donations with a fun sign on the tip jar. Most people respond well when they’re crafty and clever. This one was my favorite attempt, regardless of success:
5. Drunks are your best friends. I’m not talking about your social choices, remember we’re talking behind the counter here. But listen, even if Lindsay Lohans twin sister walks in stumbling to avoid the regurgitated bile her best friend has left all over the floor, in your interactions with them, they are both princesses and they look beautiful, because that’s what Princess Cuervo wants to hear, and that’s what makes Princess Cuervo throw tens in your tip jar because they have a 1 on them and you’re super accommodating.
Even if you know that hard work that you put into the pizza is for nothing because it’s going to see a corner in a back alley later when it comes back up, you’ve made those seven-or-eight-deep customers that much happier for the time being.
6. Free food earned for working is great, but feel free to remind yourself you are surrounded by carbs, more carbs, and carbs that probably have their own carbs. You bread, pizza, pasta and crouton yourself into oblivion and before you know it you look like Tony Soprano and you have developed and Italian accent that you slur out between ventilating breaths that cause your newly developed moobs to rise and fall rapidly. It’s just something to stay conscious of while we envy the bastards working at ‘Salad Creations’.
7. Also cheese.
8. Ovens are hot. Self explanatory, yet somehow unavoidable because you forget your hands aren’t oven mitts from time to time and it can be hot when you are sliding it in and out…
…the pizza I mean. C’mon now.
On the bright side, you get to join a unique club where you have the same tattoo as everyone else who has ever worked cook in a pizza shop. It a long branded slice looking scar on the bottom of your forearm.
It’s like being blood brothers with all the people you’ve never wanted to be!
9. It’s great to be a smoker! This sounds like poor advice, but the ratio of breaks between smokers and non-smokers is astounding. You would cringe at the number of times a person is left to fend for themselves while the entire staff steps outside for a cigarette break. Good thing too! I hear it curbs your appetite…not that it’s keeping your hands out of the crouton bin.
10. The key to good food at a quick rate is to not give a shit. If you spend thirteen minutes prepping a chef salad, delicately placing the meats and cheeses wherever you see them beautifully arranged based on that super useful art degree you got at that college place, someone is going to notice, and they’re going to call you out on it every single time, in an exceptionally sardonic tone.
Also, don’t get set in stone. Odds are everyone is going to do things differently, but because you work at a pizza shop, your boss may feel the need to validate his power over the minions by changing shit up whenever he feels you have it down to a science. You learn the proper folding techniques of deli meats for an antipasti salad? Think again Bobby Flay! Now were gonna dice it because the boss had a bad night and is too upset with his self worth to let you win this throw down.
bonus tip: If you mess up a pizza for a customer waiting in-shop, the people working behind the counter are going to get really angry, because it’s rare to make mistakes in a pizza shop. I’ve only done it twice because I’m fairly close to a perfect human being…
…but here’s how I handle it:
-you realize there is an issue and make a loud announcement full of expletives and mumbled incoherent words. Something like, “Goddamn every time stupid fuck fucker you marriage license gumball butt snatch quiddich guzzler!”
-The counter person will realize you have burnt the bottom of the pizza or gotten the cheese stuck to the stone rendering it unsalvagable.
-The counter person will say something to the affect of, “Fucking REALLY Alex?!?” to place all the blame directly on you in the eyes of the customer.
-You will die a little inside.
-You will realize you’re a badass wizard and stare the counter worker directly in the eyes while you wave your hands over the carcass of cheese and char and sarcastically say ‘I got this let me just turn back time quick!’
-Mutter an incantation.
-Give them the finger in a clever manner and say ‘fifteen minutes’
-remake aforementioned pizza
So you see mom and dad, valuable life lessons. Don’t worry, I’m eating well and the pets still aren’t dead so I guess you can say I’m above par at the moment!
Your baby boy.