Saturday, May 3, 2014

Fun With Pizza (Part 5 - Greek Tragedies)



"Hey brah!  Izzat our pizza?"

Well, girdle, give me your fucking name and I can tell you.  There's fifty of you clowns living in this monument to watery beer and date rape, it's a Saturday night, and there's just the tiniest chance someone besides you ordered.  Okay, it is yours.  You pay up, then I give you the pizza.  Because that's how I do things, that's why.  You really want an explanation?  You want me to stand here and explain why I'm treating you with surly distrust while your pizza grows cold?  You can't figure it out for yourself?

Well, Jocko, it's because two years ago I made the mistake of handing over a pizza at a frat house --- no, not yours --- and the little assholes grabbed the pizza and bolted, hopped the wall and sprinted up the walkway along the side of the house and in a back door.  That frat house had a strong back door; I couldn't get through it no matter how hard I kicked, and I didn't have a wood maul in my car.  Obviously, we had a first name and phone number, and.... Oh yeah!  Whoever placed the order was using a credit card, so we weren't out a dime!  (Even wrote in 20% tip.)  Still, it was one of those little incidents that adds to the long list of negative aspects of members of the Greek Fraternal System: "Thief."  It's a damn long list we've got, too.  With the exceptions of maybe four or five houses at Berkeley (who never seem to order from us anyway), frat boys are assumed to be drunks, thieves, entitled, incompetent con artists, arrogant, whiny, bullying (when in a group), slobs, rapists, homophobes, racists, misogynists, spoiled by their parents, dress like total pud-knocks,  and have bad breath.

It wasn't your house that I got ripped off by?  Yes, you're right, what's your point?  I treat fraternity members just like you treat non-whites: they're all the same.  You seem really fucking interested in me giving you the pizza before you hand me the cash.... I think I'll be going now...
Oh look!  You do have money in your hand!  Give it to me, and you get your pizza.  There, that wasn't so hard, now was it?  And yes, I do have to be a "total dick" about it.  Frat boys and base-heads are about neck-and-neck when it comes to honesty in my book: you're a fraternity member, which to me means you're dishonest, a thief whose acts of larceny demonstrate either compulsive behavior or astoundingly low goals.

Aaaannd you're going to call up the store to complain about me, because I was "such a total dick" to you.  Sad news, Sporto: all I gotta do is tell the manager or owner I had you sniffed out as a thief --- which I did --- and the matter will be dropped.  You will be told, "We leave the discretion totally up to our drivers.  If they feel they're in danger in any way, they are free to leave at that moment, and we will support their decision.  If a driver felt you were going to try to rob him, he can take whatever action he feels appropriate.  You got your pizza?  Then I don't understand what you want to complain about."  If anything, the vigilance of our drivers will increase at your address: don't be surprised if the Indian drivers demand payment before even getting the pizza out of their cars.  (They are, admittedly, a little paranoid.  Sent one to 924 Gilman once and it took him three days to recover.)

The Greek Fraternal System, commonly known as "fraternities" and "sororities."  One for the boys, one for the girls.
Its continued existence remains a mystery to me: I've had people try to explain how involvement in the Greek System creates life-long bonds --- normal people refer to that as "making friends" --- and contributions to the local community.  In what manner, I have no idea.  Certainly any of the shopping cart winos who make their way up the hill from Telegraph can hit a gold mine of recyclable bottles and cans, so there is that.  Otherwise, I have no clue.

After seven years of observation, my conclusion was being a Greek was entirely about (a) drinking, (b) organized drinking, and (c) "parties," at which everyone drinks heavily.  Other activities include sporadic use of rusty weight benches on the front porch, watching pornographic videos, pooling money to hire strippers, and the collection of beer ephemera in one's room.  And, of course, eating pizza.

I catered one of the "Dude, we should totally hire strippers next weekend, that would be hot!" events.  I showed up with six pizzas and two orders of cheesy bread --- a pizza skin drenched in liquid margarine mixed with garlic powder and oregano, then covered with cheese and served with cups of pizza sauce and ranch dressing --- to find things at a standstill.  The three strippers (and their muscle) were there, but hadn't started yet, so they were just standing around.  Some Brother, who seemed to be pretending to be in charge, was taken by surprise by my arrival: he knew the order had been placed, but paying for them had slipped his mind.  "Dude, I gotta collect money from people, I'll be right back."

The strippers eyed my presence with interest.  I caught the eye of the nearest one and gave her one of those "Ain't it fun dealing with idiots?" eye-rolls.  She nodded and smiled at me, catching my meaning.  What the hell, at least I have normal people to talk to while I wait.
I set my bags down on on the table the strippers were behind, and said, "'Nother day, 'nother dollar, eh?"
"Yeah.  For all of us, I guess."
"Well.... Not for these guys," I said, motioning with my head.  All three gave knowing smiles.
"So, you're all strippers, right?"
The three nodded.
"So do you also do refinishing?"
Corny, but it worked.  It took a second, then all three burst into laughter.  "I gotta remember that one," the second girl said.
"You know, I considered becoming a stripper."
"Oh yeah.  When I still drank, I was a beer junkie, and I tell ya, I had a pair of C cups!  Yikes!"
The girls laughed in approval.
From there, the four of us just chatted, killing time.  I was used to having conversations with girls wearing a lot less than they were, they were happy to have conversation with someone who wasn't either intimidated by them or had drool running down their chins: someone talking to them as people, and not that night's jack-off fantasy.  Their muscle had sort of edged in closer when I first started talking to them, then realized I was harmless and backed off again.  The subject of that night's audience came up, and one girl quietly said, "I'm glad we only do a few frats each year.  They tip lousy, and most of 'em act like they've never seen a naked woman before."
I said, "Well.... You all are in three dimensions, not two dimensions like like the girls in the porn they watch.  That's what's throwing them.  They're just confused that you're human, and take up space in three dimensions."
"You probably nailed it," one girl said.  "They'd all be better served by a bus trip to the Bunny Ranch."  We all snickered.
I suggested, "There's a band called the Dwarves whose first release is called 'Blood Guts & Pussy.'  Super-fast stuff, songs lasting one minute long, and the songs are mostly crude odes to fucking.  You guys should work out a routine to that album --- it's only fifteen minutes long --- just to mess with people's heads.  A strip act set to hardcore punk."
One of the girls said, "Hey.... Does the album cover have two naked chicks covered in stage blood?  And a little dude holding a stuffed rabbit?"  I confirmed this, yes.  She laughed.  "My little brother has that album!  That'd be funny as hell to pull off!"
"Pretty exhausting, though."
"Hahahaha!  Oh yeah!"

You know that feeling you get when someone behind you is staring at you?  I had that, bad.  I casually turned and leaned against the table, pretending to stretch my back.  Folding chairs had been arranged in rows, all facing where a stage would belong.  The chairs were two-thirds full of frat brothers waiting for the show to start.... And almost all of them were glaring at me.  I was confused for a second, then the penny dropped: it was the same stink-eye I used to get from the customers at the porn shop I'd worked at, when we had a signing.  I was a nineteen year old punk rock kid, and there I was, chatting and laughing with the porn stars like we were old friends.  You know, talking to other peoples' masturbation fantasies as if they were..... Normal people!  At the frat house, they'd probably been given instructions about not trying to chat up the strippers, yet here's the.... The goddamn pizza dude getting along with them just fine!  Dude, what the fuck, man?  I'm a Haas student, and they're talking to some loser who delivers pizza?

Pizza I still hadn't been paid for yet.  I commented, "Well, this is getting old."  One of the strippers said, "Yeah.... Wasn't he going to just pick up your money?"
"That's what he said.  Well, it's a big house, maybe he got lost.  Ran out of bread crumbs to follow back."
Another girl said, "I know what it is.  You know how on those old maps, there'd be a notation saying "Here There Be Dragons" at the edge?  He had one of those maps.... And found the dragons!"  We all burst into laughter.
"Yeah, eaten alive by dragons in his own frat house.  That'd be hell to explain at the funeral!"  More raucous laughter, even the strippers' muscle were chuckling.
Just then the King of Organization returned, unconsumed by dragons.  He looked at me and said, "We've asked people to not talk with the performers."
I smiled and said, "Is that so?  Do tell."
One of the strippers said, "I'll talk to whoever I please." with the other two chiming in with "Yeah!"`````
The guy looked at me, then at them, decided keeping the strippers happier was more important than enforcing an arbitrary rule --- against a non-frat member --- and said, "Okay, how much was it then?"
One of the strippers pitched in with, "You kept him waiting ten minutes.  He deserves a good tip for his patience."
He counted out $125 onto the table and said, "Is that fair?"
"Most generous, sir."  I turned to the girls.  "By the way, I'm Lenny," and held out my hand.
They all shook my hand.  "Jen."  "Becca."  "Marissa."
"Good luck tonight, ladies.  Knock 'em dead."
"'Night, Lenny!"  "Stay safe out there sweetie!"  "Have a good one, hon!"
I got to the front door and turned around.  They were still watching me, so I gave them the "Black Power" fist.  They all stifled laughter and did the same back.

It took me a second to figure out.... Something odd was happening.  Then I realized that all the frat boys, parked in their folding chairs, beers in hand, were swiveling their necks back and forth between the strippers and me, like they were watching a tennis game.  There I go, wreaking havoc and confusion again, without even trying.  Yeah, the pizza guy, the fucking punk rock looking loser, gets to talk and joke and laugh with the strippers and we don't.  A definite disturbance in the Force of Entitlement.  We're the goddamn future of this country (God help us all) and we're being treated like first graders on a field trip --- "Sit down, be quiet, and don't touch anything" --- and a pizza-slinging scumbag gets to hang with the strippers and have a good time.  There is something very wrong here.

No idea why they all looked so annoyed.  The strippers and me?  We ain't nothing but hired help, period.  Perfectly natural we'd hang out together: all these frat boys were to us were customers, nothing else.  My night would continue, the strippers would do their show, and tomorrow all of us would be providing services to a different set of paying customers.  I'd deliver pizza to different people, the strippers would take their clothes off for a different group, a bachelor party or whatever.  We were just doing our jobs.  It should matter fuck-all to the frat boys if the strippers and me had a friendly talk....  But it sure as hell did.

I found out just how annoyed they were the next day.  Apparently some Grand Pubah from the frat called up the store and requested that I never be sent to their address again.  The owner was curious about this request and called back.
"So, what driver was it?"
"Um, I think his name was Larry...."
"Yeah, that's it."
"You could have just said 'the white guy' and I'd have known who you meant.  What did he do?"
"Well, we'd hired strippers last night, and he was talking to them."
A brief pause.  ".... And...?"
"Well, we have a policy about not interacting with the strippers."
"And my driver would know about this policy.... How?  I'm assuming this policy is in place for the members of your fraternity, especially those who have been drinking."
"Yes sir.  We've had troubles in the past, uh....  None of the brothers are allowed to consort with the strippers, period."
"Huh.  Let's see, my driver was sober, correct?"
"Well.... Yeah."
"And is he a member of your fraternity?"
".... No."
"Then I'm not sure why we're having this conversation.  He apparently broke a rule that's in place specifically for---- Wait, I know that delivery from last night!  You had him jammed up for fifteen minutes waiting to get paid!  He only had two tags, we'd started to wonder what had happened to him, he's usually one of our quickest!"
"Umm.... Yeah, it took a couple minutes to gather up the money."
"So, did my driver harass or annoy the performers you'd hired?"
"Well, no, they were just talking and making jokes, but ---- "
"Did he insult, abuse or otherwise harass any members of your fraternity?"
"Well.... No...."
"So I don't understand what it is you want me to do."
"I want you to not send that driver to our house, ever."
"Nope.  Not gonna happen.  It doesn't sound like he did anything wrong, at least nothing that would apply to non-members of your fraternity.  How would he know that rule existed?  Sounds to me like he waited, rather patiently, to get paid, and talked with some other people you hired.
"Besides, we're a busy place.  Routing one particular driver away from one particular address won't work.  We'd have to put that instruction in for every driver, which means we wouldn't be delivering to you at all, you'd have voluntarily blackballed yourself.  Do you want that to happen?  No deliveries from us anymore?"
"Well, no, but---- "
"As far as I'm concerned, my driver did nothing wrong.  Hate to break this to you, kid, but the arbitrary rules you've put in place for your fraternity don't apply to the rest of the world.  I'll assume you want to continue to order from us.  How often Lenny shows up at your door, I can't say.
"But whatever beef you have with him is over with.  If he runs into trouble at your address, you will be blackballed, and depending on the trouble, BPD and UCPD will get involved.  He's there to deliver pizza, nothing else.  All of our drivers are out there to conduct very quick, very smooth business transactions, no matter what address they're at.  Have I made myself clear?"
"Yes sir."
"Very good then.  By the way, we've got a special on Tuesdays now, free small cheese sticks with any order over $16.  You have a nice day."

It is nice having a boss who's got your back.

James (the owner) did of course ask me what the hell happened that would have one of the higher-ups at a frat house request I never show up there again.  I told him the truth: no fuckin' clue.  I spoke to exactly one fraternity member --- the guy who paid me --- and beyond that, it was just me and the strippers cracking jokes and making small talk, killing time, just several members of the working class shootin' the shit.  What few disparaging remarks we had made at the expense of the frat boys had been done sotto voce, no way they could have heard us.  I finally got paid, said good night to the girls, and went on my way.  The guy that paid me (and kept me waiting all that time so I could chat with the girls) was the only frat member I interacted with, period.

"I do have an idea, though," I told James.
"Let's hear it."
"I think the dudes at that house genuinely hate me now.  It's more than just having broken their stupid house rule about not talking to the performers: yeah, that's part of it, but I think it was 'cos I was someone who didn't go all ga-ga in their presence.  They were bored, so I was crackin' jokes just to lighten their mood.  Then all four of us were just.... Gabbing.  We were comfortable enough around each other to just chat.  I mean, shit, I've told you about those gigs I had back in the late Eighties, so I don't go all googly-eyed around half-naked women --- of the three, I couldn't even tell you which one had the best tits --- so here I am, having a normal conversation with what was, to those guys, that night's jack-fodder.
"And I think that pissed them off.  Bad enough I could talk to them and they couldn't, but having a real conversation?  With strippers?  And I'm the fuckin' pizza dude?  That's what enraged them: I was comfortable talking to the strippers, and I'll bet not a one of them could pull it off.  Not to sound too feminist, but we're talking about frat boys here: they've objectified women ever since their balls dropped, and that attitude goes double for strippers.  And here I am, disproving that objectifying bullshit.  Not to sound too egotistical, but if I'd given those girls my phone number and said, 'Hey, we should hang out sometime, go bowling or something,' they'd have kept the number.  You know, just a few fellow members of the working class hanging out together.  And believe it or not, I wouldn't hit on any of them, they put up with that constantly.  Now, if one of them made a pass at me, well...."

James laughed and said, "'Fellow members of the working class,' eh?  You still got that punk rock class warfare 'tude."
I shrugged.  "Eehhh.  I've outgrown the idea that putting bricks through the windows of banks is a good idea.  All that shit does is make life miserable for the poor slobs working there.  So it costs the bank a tiny bit of money for new glass.  Nothing is accomplished."
James pointed a cunning eye at me and asked, "So how come you don't hate me?  Aren't I, as a business owner, the enemy?"
"Oh, put a sock in it, James.  You're a guy who owns a pizza place.... And a successful one, and I sincerely congratulate you on that.  You also work anywhere from fifty to ninety hour weeks making this place go.  You've slept on the flour sacks some nights, because you were too damn tired to drive.  You work, you work fucking hard, and anything you've got you can look at and say, 'I earned that.'  You keep forgetting I'm no fuckin' communist.  I just don't like people who have always had jobs instead actually working."
James smiled again and said, "And I can guess how you classify the fraternities."
"To be honest, and even leaving my personal politics aside?  They're really useless human beings.  I know their presence helps keep me employed, but.... James, you should drive on a few weekends, and see how these guys spend their time.  Hell, deliver to a frat house any day of the week, at any time of day, and see how they live.  They're pathetic: they live off lots of mommy and daddy's money, I've lived in squats that were cleaner and better maintained than frat houses, and their interests are beer, weed, and tits.  They truly are consumers: they consume, and expend nothing of use or validity.  I wonder what Mumsy would say about Junior's 'They're All Cunts To Me' t-shirt?  All women are to those dudes are breast and pussy support systems.
"And what bugs me the most?  These woman-hating drunks are supposed to be the 'Leaders of Tomorrow.'  Whatever that means.  What I've seen of them, they couldn't lead a dog by a leash."
James cocked an eyebrow and said, "So.... What you're telling me is you harbor an intense hatred for a certain percentage of our customer base, am I right?"
I paused for a few seconds, and said, "What answer won't get me fired?"
James laughed and told me, "It's a trick question, your job's not in jeopardy.  You're one of my quickest drivers, you have maybe two returns a month --- I don't know how you do it ---- "
"I, um, know tricks on how to circumvent the doors to apartment buildings, and those are where I run into the most trouble.  All these apartment buildings are pushovers."
James glared at me and said, "You know, Lenny, there are some things your boss doesn't need to know.  I didn't hear that.  Anyway, right now you're my only damn driver who speaks English as a first language, you've never missed work because of a breakdown, and I've had exactly one complaint about you in four years: the one we just got, and it was bullshit.  Frat boys who were pissed that you got to talk to the evening's entertainment and they didn't."
"They wouldn't have known what to say, so it wouldn't have mattered.  Those frat boys would have either been mute with fear, or so crude the strippers' muscle, their guards, would have thrown them out of their own house."  I looked at the clock: 3:54.  "Welp, time to get into rotation."
"You want a bump before you start?"
"Um.... Hey, sure."
He pulled out the keyboard tray of his desk --- a computer desk with no computer; he relied on a laptop for working --- displaying six lines of speed and a cut straw.  I snorted back the one closest to me, and thanked him.  (I had some of my own, but took his offer as a gesture of good will.)
"No problem.  You're on till two, right?"
"Yeah.  It's Saturday, so it's a long one."  Our last orders would come in at two a.m., which meant I'd probably be dropping my last tags at around a quarter of three.
"If you want another one, just give me a tap --- I'll probably be on the make line --- and I'll let you in the office."
"Thanks, James," I said, giving a solid sniff on one nostril to knock back the speed.  Then I grabbed my pizza bag and headed into the maelstrom at the front of the store.

Not so bad.  Some frat boy cocksuckers try to get me in dutch with my boss, and my boss punishes me with free drugs.  Naughty, naughty punk rock pizza guy.

The best part: I was at that frat house not once, but twice, that night.
The first one was fine: 7:00 order time, 7:40 ETA, I was five minutes early, called the customer and told him to come on down, he got pizza, I got paid, that was that.

The second one was a bit more interesting.  A 10:45 ETA, and I was right on time.  I made the call and went to their front door, which was standing wide open.
We were in the middle of the transaction, me counting out his change, when Skipper says, "Hey.... You were here last night."
I confirmed that yes indeedy, I was, and how was the show?
"You're not supposed to be here, you were banned!  You weren't allowed to be talking to the strippers!"
"Yeah, it's one of the house rules!"
"That's nice," I said, handing him his change and pizza.  "Tell me, am I a member of this particular Greek Fraternal organization?"
"What?  No."
"Then why would I care about any rules put in place by this fraternity, which specifically apply to the members of this fraternity?  I had fifteen minutes to kill while Captain Chaos rounded up the money for the order: something he should have done when he called us, making it a forty-five second transaction.  You think I'm gonna just stand there with my hand up my ass waiting for him, when I could be talking with my fellow service industry workers?  I guess your chapter president called the store, and the owner spoke with him.  No, I'm not 'banned', unless you guys want to start ordering from Mister Pizza Man in Richmond.  With them, order before you're hungry, 'cos the two hour delivery times they have will give you the time to work up an appetite.  Shouldn't believe everything you hear, kid.  And you never answered me.  How was the show?"
He stared at the floor and said, "It was pretty hot."  Then he looked up at me and sneered, "And you missed out!"
I smiled and said, "Yes, I suppose I did.  I have to admit, they were all beautiful, but Marissa was a knockout."
He frowned and said, "Who's Marissa?"
"Marissa was the tall Latina girl, really stacked, she started off in a gold Spandex-y get-up."
"But that's not--- "
"The blonde was Becca, and the Brunette was Jen."
He bleated triumphantly, "They lied about their names to you!  You got conned, dude!"
"Really.  And what are their real names?"
"Um, I don't remember which was which, but one is named Stormy, another's named Rayne, with a 'Y', and the third... Was.... Um.... Snow....."
Watching the dude's 56K brain process the concept of "stage names" was a sight to behold.  Fuck him, I twisted the knife.
"So.  Three women, who just happen to be named 'Stormy,' 'Rayne' --- with a 'Y' --- and 'Snow' all just happen to work for the same agency and all just happen to work together.  Of course.  Under no circumstances would they be using stage names, never."
He glared at me, then growled, "What were their real names again?"
"Sorry, they've slipped my mind.  You go and enjoy your pizza, sir, and have a good evening."
He stomped up the stairs like a five year old.  In a lot of ways, he was.

Up the working class, mothafucka.

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