The Pizza Bastard

Posted: September 25, 2010 by S. Trevor Swenson in Observations
Tags: , ,

I have recently discovered a terrific pizza place right across the street from my school.  The pizza is really excellent even by NYC’s high standards. Because of its proximity to the school and its fantastic pizza the place has a thriving business selling slices and drinks to the students and whole pies delivered to the school’s faculty and staff across the street.

The place is staffed by hardworking, proficient and pleasant Mexican men making the pizzas and a nice Mexican woman acting as cashier.  Every time I go there the place is full with students lining up to buy slices.  Most pizza parlors dream of doing this high level of business.

There is one person who is not happy with the hordes of customers.  The most unlikely person imaginable. The pizza parlors owner.

I first noticed him last Monday.  First he was angrily wiping down trays and staring at his staff, who were busy and working their asses off.  He stared at them as if they weren’t working hard enough, and that he obviously felt he was paying them entirely too much. Then he went behind the counter and stood amongst them.  I have noticed that Mexican workers in the USA have perfected the blank expression when their employer is being incredibly bothersome and unappreciative.  Many American workers haven’t developed this useful skill.

Having tormented his staff the little old man sits next to the table with the condiments and napkins.  I happened to look up and saw him doing something pretty amazing, in a cheap bastard sort of way.  Instead of leaving the napkins out in a stack for customers to take as many as they wanted or needed, he was carefully placing them in a way where one would feel guilty and selfish about taking more than two.  He puts out about 10-15 napkins at a time, so that taking too many napkins would leave none for the next person.

After the clever napkin distribution he watches every customer to see how much salt, pepper, parmesan cheese or garlic powder they use.  Then he mumbles disagreeably if they go over whatever limit he feel should be imposed on his precious seasonings.

He has a perpetually annoyed and pained facial expression.  He looks as if he desperately needs to go to the bathroom and drop a deuce, but if he were to leave his guard post for even 30 seconds, bedlam would ensue.  The students would start taking three and maybe even (gasp) four napkins.

I have seen this facial expression before.  It is exclusively one that belongs to cheap, miserly and miserable business owners.  I know that he has figured out the cost of every single napkin and every dusting of oregano and he is busy adding these figures up in his head and making himself more and more angry as each hour ticks by.

I understand the business philosophies that “Waste is a thief” and trying to maximize ones output, with the least input.  But there are limits to these things.  Miserable people become accustomed to being miserable, so that if they feel any other way their world feels out of synch.

I have written before that people who hate their jobs are almost always entertaining to watch, and this guy is no exception.  I love to sit and watch him, ever angry at his hardworking staff and his loyal clientele.  Sometimes when he goes behind the counter I take extra napkins and feel rebellious, like I am once again a young punk rocker ‘sticking it to the man’

The bathroom in the pizza parlor has an “Out Of Order” sign on the door. There is also a large plank of wood blocking the door for the less literate students.  My theory is that the bathroom is in perfect working order, but the owner hasn’t figured out a way to hire an illegal alien to hand customers toilet paper, one square at a time for sub minimum wage.

  1. Tallkronan says:

    Excellent text! This seems like you’ve worked it over quite a bit. Really nice! I could see this published any day and I think people would love to read it! Impressive!


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