Monday, December 14, 2009

The right stuff

Passengers some times ask what it takes to get into my blog. The ones who really want to get in never do. Last night I had not 1 but 2 who are getting in. They are examples of the extremes you run into in a space of less than an hour.

I went to the Rustic to get a guy going to a bar on Winnebago st. Guy was super drunk. Every other sentence he said he was all pissed off. He had a bag with him, said it was the Christmas presents his regular customers gave him. Turns out he was one of the bar tenders at the bar he was going to. Said he'd forgotten to take his fanny pack with him when he left the bar and went to the Rustic (a bar close to his house), and in the fanny pack was his inhaler and a bunch of other stuff he needed. He's one of those people who should never let anyone else see him drunk, rather disgusting I'd say, and I see A LOT of drunks.

The other extreme was this real nice girl who works at Ian's on State st. We got on the subject of pizza shops and pizza delivery, and I gave her some of the history of the business. She thought this trivia was super cool and said she intended to tell her pizza co-workers about the trivia and me. Wow, I'm flattered. So, since she said she'd read me, I'll post some of that trivia here, and some of the stuff I perhaps left out.

Here goes, the pizza trivia. Back in my younger days I delivered a lot of pizza. Decent jobs were impossible to get in the Detroit area. The story of my life, it would seem, is I've lived in places where there are no jobs. Most people don't know that pizza was the first food ever delivered, and it was first delivered in Ypsilanti, Michigan to the campus area close to Eastern Michigan University. Domino's store number 1 is the Cross st. store in Ypsilanti. The east side of Ypsilanti is store number 2 and the guy who owned it's name was John. Store 3 was the west side of Ann Arbor, and for some reason I never delivered a pie out of store number 3. That store was a really well run store and they never desperately called all the other stores begging for a driver to borrow for the night. Store #4 is the U of M central campus, and was on South University, it had the coolest oven I've ever seen. Store #5 was the east side of Ann Arbor, I managed that store for a while, big mistake, the owner was a big hillbilly named Dean who is a complete loser. Store #6 is U of M north campus and north side of town. Back in those days, a 16" plain cost $1.70.

She said a 20" pepperoni at Ian's is $9.00 these days, which sounds like a real bargain. I have some weird pizza delivery stories, I don't remember the nice stories, there must have been some. It was a long time ago however. One that I will always remember is the 3 cops who ordered a pizza. One of the drivers took the call and they refused to give their phone number, so when fuck up (we called Gene who was making pizza's fuck up) got to that slip he crumpled it up and tossed it in the trash. When they didn't get their pizza they called and Gene told them no phone number, no pizza, so the lady said something like, "Ok dingbat, here's the phone number", and fuck up hung up on them. So they started calling back, and calling back, and calling back, and every time Gene would pick up the phone and hang up on them. I walked into the store and answered the phone and the lady started screaming at me, so I told her to calm down and tell me what happened. Fuck up told me he would not make a pie for them so I made it my self and took it down to their house, it was a house on easy st.

When I knocked on the door it opened and this woman with a shoulder holster with a huge gun in it opened the door and grabbed me by the front of the shirt and dragged me into the house. In the living room there were 2 more guys, so 3 people total, all wearing a bunch of guns, 5 guns total if memory serves, and dressed like they were in the Soprano's and were going to a funeral. Way over dressed for an evening at home and armed to the teeth! One of the guys snarled, "Do you know who I am?" And I said, "I don't care who you are, you can be anybody you want." What are you supposed to say to some big ass hole with a gun anyway? So he says, "My name is Under Sheriff Owings! Now what's this shit about you wouldn't bring us a pizza?" Nice guy, I take the lady's shit on the phone, bring them the pie, and now I'm supposed to be scared shitless of the guy.

The way scared shitless works for me is if you suprise me I won't be scared right then, I'll be scared after it's over. Right then I will be at a loss for words, but I usually don't satisfy people with being terrified. It turns out that if you're really in great danger, you rarely have the luxury of being able to shit your pants right then, you just have to hold it for later.

I stammered out that I was the person who'd actually took the order and made the pizza and he shouldn't be mad at me, he should be mad at fuck up. So they thanked me, like nothing had happened, gave a little better than average tip, and told me I could leave. That address became another on my list of places I wouldn't deliver to, and luckilly they didn't order more pizzas because I would have told the big hillbilly who owned the store do go down there and deliver it himself, and he would have canned me.

Something else she'll probably think is neat, is the history of keeping a pizza hot while taking it to the customer. Back in the day, we drove company cars, and used hot box's that were first kept warm with a little propane heater. The trouble with this was that you'd open the door and the wind would snuff the burner, then 20 minutes later with the car doors shut, windows rolled up, cause it was cold outside, you'd light a cigarette, and the accumulated propane in the hotbox would blow the door off the car. This wasn't real great for the driver either, but they mostly cared about the damage it did to the car. So most stores started using these little cans of jellied alcohol, but one store started using blankets, that was store number 6. One if the guys who worked there was an engineering student named Dick who only worked on Sunday nights when I first met him. Dick ended up with the franchise for Pittsfield Township, the area between Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, which it is my understanding he swapped Domino's for the franchise rights to Columbus, Ohio. If he owns all the stores in Columbus, Ohio, he must be filthy rich these days. My guess is he also holds a basic patent for the zipper hot bags that many stores use today to keep pies warm.

There was a burnout who worked for store 6 named Bill Rue, who'd given up on an engineering degree, to be a 6 day a week pizza man. What a waste. Bill had been robbed 3 times when I met him. For some reason, I never got robbed, and to this day have never been robbed, though people have tried a few times. Becky Belknap told me Bill was murdered making a night deposit in Columbus, Ohio. Dick took him with him to open his first store.

Another memory, the first guy I ever fired was Tim Heller, a guy I'd known since 7th grade. In a snow storm he took the company red white and blue Domino's Javelin and ran over the stop sign 60 feet from the store and pulled the car right up in front. The ONLY tire tracks. He thought it was funny. Looking back on it I should have called the cops and let them handle it.

There was a bar next store to the Packard store, I'm told Tuck Banfield own's it now, back then it was The Fireside Lounge. There are a couple of noteworthy drunk stories, who got 86'd from there. One was a guy who was surrounded by 6 cops when I pulled up to the store. The owners son Warren was outside watching, he was 12 at the time. The cops prodded the guy until he made a mistake that they used as provication pound the crap out of him. I tried real hard to get Warren into the store before he saw all this, I recall saying, "Come on Warren, you don't need to see this", and pushing him into the door. They made a deliberate effort to seperate both of the drunk man's shoulders, I used to wrestle and I know just how to do it. After they'd beaten him unconscious they tossed him in the squad and 4 of them left. The other 2 came in the store for the 2 pies they'd ordered, which we never charged them for. I asked the cop what happened and he said, "That guy tried to hit me and", and I stopped him in midsentence.

I said, "You know, I saw you hit him, but I never saw him hit you."

He replied that he wasn't going to let the guy hit him either. So I asked what they were going to do with him, and he said they'd probably let him go after he slept it off. I probably saved that guy's ass. I handed the cop the pies, said no charge and life went on.

Another drunk I tried to spare Warren from dealing with was a guy who'd gotten kicked out and came in the employee's entrance and demanded to buy a burned pie for a buck. We didn't have a burned pie just then. I was moving him out but when we got to the door he grabbed my shirt and started shaking me back and forth while giving me the raspberries. I looked in at the man in charge, a fellow we called Fat Dan, and he was holding up a fist and making a jesture that I should slug the guy. When he let go of me I gave him a single uppercut right to the jaw. He rose up on tiptoes, turned about 180 degrees and fell in the snow. I looked at him for a moment and said to myself, if I let him get up I'll just have to hit him again, so I jumped on him and put him in a wrestling hold called a guillatine, which had him facing the stars unable to move either arm or his legs and I had my free hand in a fist right in front of his nose. I told him if he didn't get up and leave he was going to get hurt, and got my most important lesson in drunks of my entire life.

His reply was classic, he said, "Why am I going to get hurt? I'm going to kick your ass."

I could have caved his face in right then and there, and he wanted to know why? Well, that's what drunk men ALWAYS say, they're complete idiots. It took about 10 seconds to decide that if he needed it explained to him, I couldn't explain it. So I said I didn't want anybody to accuse me of taking advantage of a drunk and he should come back the next day when he was sober and kick my ass. I told him to ask for Morris Dean Jenkins. I would be off the following day, he would be asking for Warrens dad, the big hill billy. It worked, he left. The other drivers were amazed that I'd let him go and not put him in the hospital. What they didn't understand is that it is impossible for me to hit someone in anger, they trained that out of me in a gym when they were training me to be a complete heart attack.

A couple of other names that come to me, Mary Traumatine and Marty Brooks. I hope both of you have lived fine lives my friends, and I wish I still saw you frequently. Marty gave me my first ever doobie, Mary always wanted to ride around in the delivery car and I'm sure she wanted to do............ She was a nice kid, she didn't do it with me.