Medium Pan Pepperoni Pizza
I pulled up to the neon signed building in a new Toyota Camry Hybrid. As I walked through the door, someone tossed me a shirt and said, ‘I’m Heather, and I know that the shirt is too big, but it will be fine until I can get you one that fits.’ I was told that I would be on phones. I was already nervous and unsure about what was ahead.
The store was grim. The whole place was comprised of a kitchen and a very small amount of square footage for customers to wait for their carryout order. As Heather walked back to get the rest of my uniform, I could see the tired look on her face. She seemed as if she was barely staying awake.
Heather led me through the monotone, orange colored computer screen explaining how to take an order. I used old tickets to practice as I saw only two or three customers come in to the store that first hour. I remember one of them complaining about not having enough pepperoni on her pizza. ‘I’ll try to do my best to fix it,’ Heather replied in a friendly, but obviously annoyed voice. As Heather struggled with the customers I learned that pan crust and thin crust sound very similar on the phone when a foreign, English challenged customers struggled to order. Heather had probably gone through many little complaints like the pepperonis, but I was amazed to she how she was still holding it together.
The place seemed empty, except for sounds coming from the back. I journeyed to the far end of the store to find an over-weight man jamming to Disney songs while he washed the dishes. Heather came up behind me and said softly into my ear, ‘That’s Greg, he’ll talk your ear off if you give him the chance. If I were you, I wouldn’t.’ Greg seemed very content washing the dishes and listening to his music. Greg is autistic.
I met a majority of the staff as they arrived for the busy Friday. There was Eric, who complained about how his family might have to move to Dayton for lower rent, and there was Katie, who had just graduated vocational school with a degree in culinary arts. This was the best job she could get. There were the drivers in all their glory, multi-pierced and reeking of cigarette smoke, griping about how 100 Main St never tipped. Each person had a funny personality and a story to tell about the place.
I left that night with a small smile on my face. I had completed my first day of my first job. Heather said, ‘You did a great job’, and I was proud of making it through the very stressful and overwhelming environment. I got in my car to drive home to my nice house, in my nice neighborhood, in my nice community. I later learned that Heather was a full time manager with three boys and an ex-husband who paid no child support. I also learned that most of my co-workers were only high school graduates. I was the youngest person there by at least five years. From then on I took each call with a purpose.