In 2011, I brought my life crashing down around me. It certainly wasn’t the first time and, unfortunately, it wouldn’t be the last. As a result of a few misunderstandings with the local police, I had been placed on felony probation. I had no job, no money, and no prospects. I was twenty-six years old and I was totally drowning.
I had miraculously managed to kick the two-gram-a-day heroin habit I had been operating on for the past two years prior, but I was still in rough shape physically, mentally, and emotionally. Simply put, I was fucking looney toons insane, and I couldn’t pull it together enough to formulate any real long-term plan that would get me out of trouble and get my life back on track. Somewhere along the line, I had lost the ability to think rationally and realistically about anything.
However, I was smart (or stupid) enough to figure out that I should probably seek employment. Aside from heroin hustling and street scams, I hadn’t worked in a year. Not to mention, my employment history was shaky at best and I was a convicted felon. It was irrelevant, or so I thought, that I had two degrees from UC Berkeley. I didn’t even attempt to find employment that would require any kind of skill or focus or talent; no, it would have been far too disappointing when I was surely turned down and, moreover, I knew that I wasn’t mentally capable of hacking it at a real big kid job.
So, at twenty-six years old, fresh off heroin and crazy as a fucking loon, I became a pizza delivery driver.
As I mentioned, my life was pretty fucked. Part of this picture was that I didn’t have a car. In fact, one of my main motivators for getting a job was so I could buy a car. You see, I could handle being a drugged-up-burned-out loser, but I wouldn’t stand for being a drugged-up-burned-out loser without wheels. Besides, do you know what a fucking drag it is to pick up dope on the bus? I wouldn’t recommend it.
I may have had a less than desirable criminal record, but somehow my driving record remained unblemished. I soon realized that my criminal record would have been overlooked anyways, as literally every single other person who worked at Johnny’s Real New York Pizza* had a criminal record. DUIs, drug possession, fraud, you name it: the place was run by small timers. Hell, the place was owned by criminals. Sure, they liked to call themselves fancy names like “attorney” and “businessman,” but those dudes were as fucking crooked as they came, even going so far as to steal tip money from the kids working there. My tip money, however, I kept closely guarded.
Mom agreed to let me borrow the minivan for a few months until I could buy my own ride, and I put in ungodly hours delivering pizzas and salads to yuppie scumbags all over Newport Beach. I quickly learned that the richer a customer was, the less of a tip they would give. The self-important millionaires in their gated communities would stare down their noses at me like I existed solely for them. I once made a twenty mile roundtrip delivery for a whopping thirty-nine cent tip, and when I asked the dude if he was sure that was all he wanted to give me, he laughed in my face and said he was sure. I’m sure that I was drunk and I’m also sure that I pissed in his mailbox on the way out.
The best part about working a job like this is that you have no personal stake in it. You’re underpaid and overqualified for the gig, so you find yourself not giving a fuck about behaving yourself. At least, that’s where I was at. I started pounding beers and snorting lines of coke in the storeroom before going off on deliveries, and I would fuck with customers intentionally– especially the rich ones, whom I hated with an unfathomable fervor.
There was a silver lining though. After about ninety days of working without one day off, I bought my baby: a 1990 Cadillac DeVille in near mint condition. I was so fucking proud of that thing and even more protective of it. One misfortunate rich twat made the mistake of placing his pizza on the hood of my car, and I looked him straight in the face and said, with real sociopathic panache, “Get your god damn pizza off of my car now.” He tipped me a twenty and scurried inside.
The gig was fun while it lasted, and it really helped to reinforce my lifelong disdain for the upper class, a reptilian, lecherous, self-centered breed of human excrement that I will never bring sustenance to again if I can help it. Class consciousness aside, I had a lot of strange encounters, but one in particular stands out.
I was out on a delivery and I couldn’t find the apartment I was supposed to be going to. I called the number on the delivery slip to find out what the deal was, and this chick answered. I could tell right away she was fucking trashed, as she couldn’t seem to tell me where she was. After a lot of coaxing on my part, she seemed to remember where her own fucking residence was and directed me to wait for her in the downstairs lobby of the building.
I was the only one waiting in the lobby when she got out of the elevator. The chick couldn’t have been older than twenty-two, and she was wearing sweatpants and a college sweatshirt. I forget which university it was, but it was some lesser institution, like UC Fresno or something. This young lady was a total mess: no shoes, hair all a mess, and she appeared to have what was semen all over her face. I’m not exaggerating: her face looked like she had just finished up a bukkake session with a herd of elephants.
I was flabbergasted. I didn’t know how to approach the situation. Furthermore, I certainly didn’t know how to feel about it: was the sight of this chick in a jizz mask the funniest thing I had ever seen, or was it the most tragic? My mind was reeling. This was a Kafkaesque nightmare of a magnitude that I was ill equipped to deal with.
“Are you the pizza guy?” she slurred.
I looked down at my shirt that clearly read “Johnny’s Real New York Pizza” and then over at the twenty inch pizza box next to me that read the same before looking back at her.
“No, I’m with the IRS, ma’am.”
Her eyes stared back at me in blank confusion, accentuated by the glimmering semen that covered the rest of her face.
“Nevermind,” I replied. “That’ll be twenty-two seventy-three.”
It took her a moment to figure out that she was expected to pay me, but when she did, she reached into her pocket and pulled out a ten dollar bill. She handed it to me and tried to pick up the pizza, which apparently wasn’t such a great idea: she immediately fell to the floor in a cummy, crumply heap.
“This isn’t enough money to cover the bill for one, and for two, you don’t seem capable of carrying anything at the moment. Are you all right?”
She looked up at me from the floor and her eyes began to water. The floodgates burst and she spouted a steady stream of tears that cut through the jiz swamp that was her face.
“You don’t understand!” She sobbed. “Nobody understands! My teams lost today! Both of my teams lost today!” She covered her head with her arms and curled up into a ball.
I was awestruck. Was I to understand correctly that this poor young girl, upon witnessing not one, but two defeats of her favorite sports clubs, was so distraught that she saw no other way of rectifying the situation save booze, bukakke, and pizza? It all seemed so drastic to me and I, Pizza Pie Picaro and Trusted Servant of the People, wanted to help.
“There there now, my dear. Sports are no excuse for debauchery and self-destruction. What’s a sport anyways? It’s a silly game, a distraction concocted by the ruling elite to keep sweet young girls like yourself drunk, distracted, and covered in, uh, sadness.”
“I KNEW YOU DIDN’T UNDERSTAND!”
I suddenly realized that she was speaking my language and that I knew exactly what to do in a situation like this, with an inebriated and irate girl making accusations that I “didn’t understand”: I gave her some food and carried her to bed.
I still think about that girl. I hope she’s overcome her irrational emotional investment in sporting events, laid off the sauce, and learned how to be more discreet with her sexual misadventures. And I must confess that a part of me still regrets not asking her on a date…
P.S. Composed September of 2011 or so.
*False advertising, indeed. The dude who named the shop after himself was a self-styled "New Yorka" whose closest connection to the Empire State was his fucking Wall Street stock broker.
Pizza Pie Picaro
One tip, two tip, three tip, four,
I can tell by the way you open the door
to your coastal mansion, with the Porsche in the driveway,
you’ll take your pizza pie, then turn me away.
With empty hands and empty pockets to match:
Did I say something wrong? Or was it my mustache?
Or perhaps my cologne, of pizza dough and desperation
(with a hint of Italian sausage and sexual frustration)?
I’ll wave to the gate guard on my way out
and shoot him a look, to show him I know all about
how it is to be so close, yet so far away
from wanton wealth every single day.
It don’t bother me much, when I think of the price:
the mindless boredom, credit card bills, and housewifean vice
(the best tips come from rusted trophy wives with prescription pill peepers,
though they sometimes want more than pizza, but I ain’t no creeper).
I’m just your Pizza Pie Picaro, out for a stroll.
Tip me or don’t–my day job’s rock ‘n’ roll.