Saturday, November 17, 2012

Unsung Hero

Today, my Scoutmaster-wifely duties included picking up pizzas and dropping them off at the training that Mike's doing with the new Scout leaders.

Not a tough job, so how is it that it gets a story?

I don't know.  Maybe it won't, but I'll give it a shot. 

See, Nick's friend wanted him to come over, but they both decided to play here since Mike has picked up two new games in the past week.  Lucky guys.  That meant that, for the first time, someone arrived at the house and Nick was allowed to let them in.  Will that backfire when he's a teenager and there's the potential for the colossal house party while Mike and I aren't home?  Are those movies even real?  I knew they wouldn't cause too much damage in the hour that I was gone.

Right after I got all that set up, Mike called.

"Hey hon, can you bring those pizzas now?"

"Sure.  Jack's on his way over at noon. Did you order any pizza for us?"

"Nah. You know I didn't pay for them yet. Right?  I also got root beer and Sierra Mist. Oh, and can you bring some ice?"

In five minutes, I was out of the house, listening to my new favorite book on my disk player.  Yes, some cars still have disk players.  Don't exactly know what I'll do when they don't.  The book is 'Diary of a Mad Fat Girl' by Stephanie McAfee.  I'll admit that I didn't  expect too much from the beginning, but I'm still listening to the first disk and it has made me snort out loud twice.  The bad news is that it's not quite G-rated, so I can't tell you the line that caused the second choking laughter fit and I can't listen to it at home in case the kids will hear the smut I'm listening to.  They aren't likely to hear a thing since they're in the living room right now, screaming their heads off at Halo 4, but I could just see getting that call from a mom asking about the kind of influence I'm having on her son.  It's bad enough that I let him eat two HoHos from our dwindling Hostess collection and Mike, when he got home a few minutes ago, gave him root beer.

I'm getting ahead of myself.

So, there I was ordering two more pizzas from my iPhone and bolting out of the house so that Mike's pizzas would get there still slightly warm.  I forgot the ice.  Crap!  Too late to go back.

When I got to Papa John's no one was there but me and a single cashier. 

"Quiet in here today," I said. 

"We don't usually pick up until after four," the cashier replied and smiled.  Famous. Last. Words.

First, the computer ate my order and, unless I paid cash, I was going to lose my online rewards.  The cashier paused at least three times as the computer thought about his latest instructions. In the meantime, the phone rang.  He answered with, "Papa John's, can you hold while I help my current customer?" Then, he punched a button and put the receiver back into the cradle. 

"I'm really sorry about that, Ma'am," he said as he handed me my change.  I must be getting old.  I no longer mind being called 'ma'am.'  The first time, it was demoralizing. I told him it was no problem, but now I'm out of cash. Still, I'm all for going along with the computer when it makes its crazy decisions.

Then another customer walks in the door.  The phone starts doing this double ring kind of thing.  The cashier puts another customer on hold. 

"You're second order will be ready in just a few minutes," he said to me before he even made eye contact with the man.  I sat down in the chair by the window.

This customer couldn't speak English.  Three times, he tried to say whether or not he'd already ordered and what he wanted on his pizza.  The cashier kept a smile on his face.  He really did. 

"Pickle," the customer said.

"We don't offer pickle as our toppings," the cashier said.

"Pick-le," the customer said a slightly different way.


"No, pepp-o," the customer said.  The phone changed it's beeping and the cashier held up his index finger and put another call on hold.

"Green pepper?" he said after he'd replaced the phone. 

"No. pickle," the customer said.

"I'm very sorry, sir, but we don't offer pickles as a topping."

"No. pepp-o?"  The customer looks at me.  I don't speak pepper.

"Pepperoncini?" I try.  The phone continues to bleat. 

"No. Pickle," he said again as if the repetition might help.

"Do you think he's talking about the pepperoncinis?  I like those," I said as I stood up.

"Thank you," the cashier said to me. "We don't offer pepperoncinis on our pizzas."

"No. On box," the customer said.

"In the box?" the cashier asked.

"Pickled pepper?" I said and finally, the poor guy nodded and smiled.

"I think he's talking about pepperoncini in the box with the pizza," I said to the cashier. 

"No. pickle pepp-o."  I wish I could have told the guy they put them into every box. The cashier gets to work on the computer and then it froze. 

"My computer has frozen again," he said.  We all stand there for more than two or three minutes until the computer decides to let us off the hook.  It seems like much longer.  The cashier punches a few buttons on the computer before it decides to work again.  The phone continues to honk. 

The two exchange cash and change.  Then, something in the back starts to bark a repeating tone.  The cashier holds up his index finger again and leaves the counter.  Boy, I hope those finger gestures aren't rude in the customer's native country.

The cashier loads my pizzas into their boxes and brings them to me, six pizzas and two big bottles of soda.  Before I get out the door, he has the other guy's pizzas in a box and is handing it over.  By the time I drive away, I can see him on the phone again, punching buttons on his errant computer. 

That man deserves a medal.

Thank you for listening, jb


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