The near suburbs of St. Louis in the days before the first dot-com boom could be a foreboding place. They were built-up in the early days of white flight on the other side of a man-made open sewage river, whose name kind of sounds like French for “stinks real bad,” and forms the boundary between city and county. White people could stand on its banks and look over into the city to make sure all the brown people were inside before they made the perilous journey to go bowling.
Near suburbia was a place of 60s ranch-style houses owned by sweet old people who were being displaced by scary white trash with middle class incomes. It was a place of mobile homes abutting Barnes and Nobles. It was a place of nouveau upper middle class trash building massive shoddy tract homes with their wealth from fast food franchise ownership.
People not unlike me, these customers.
A typical night delivering pizza among my people would be pretty busy during the dinner hours, and a driver would try to carry at least three orders each run. Sometimes we would take five or six if everything was lining up right.
An order would go something like this:
89 degrees fahrenheit
70% relative humidity
16″ Pepperoni, House salad
I found the address and parked on the street in the cul-de-sac. It was on the edge of our delivery area, in disputed territory between a neighboring location of the restaurant. A storm was gathering, and the cloudy gray sky would occasionally open up with flashes of lighting. As I walked up the sidewalk to the front door, I heard a shrill cat call that sounded like a character from a risque cartoon in the 1930s.
“IT’S A MAN,” they called from somewhere up high behind me, “IT’S A PIZZA MAN!”
I swear I heard whoever that was fanning themselves and fainting into the arms of another unseen person. I stopped and looked back, scanning the second floor of the homes across the street. Maybe I saw curtains flutter, maybe I didn’t.
I delivered the order. It was uneventful. Average tip. A buck. I started to walk back to my car.
As I walked I felt every hair stand up on my body. Had I not been wearing a hat, I assure you the hair on my head would have been on end. Then the lightning struck. It was close. Close enough to reach out and touch it when it hit the ground. Far enough away that I only clenched my bowels instead of releasing them. It caused me no harm other than a momentary flash of terror that would easily be calmed with a one-hit of ditch weed on the drive back to the restaurant.
I made a mental note to tell my manager a greatly exaggerated version of what happened. How close I was to losing my life in selfless service to my duty as a pizza delivery driver in their employ. I would put the back of my hand to my forehead and say “Oh Lordy” a lot and such.
I was a very dramatic young man.
This was just another story about one order. There are at least 3 or 4 more…
TRUE TALES OF A FORMER PIZZA DELIVERY DRIVER.
Enjoy your delicious moments.