I think I haven’t written in a while because it’s been hard for me to clear my head.
I bite my nails to the quick because of a nervousness that I can’t understand. I want to play guitar more often but I cant because the strings hurt the exposed nail bed.
Working at a pizza place has taught me much more than I thought it could. Some people mistreat food service employees because they think they are below them. Some people are ridiculously generous, probably because they worked in food service and understand the hell that comes with it. Some people are just awful people.
I deliver to lots of different people. Some are happy; one man I deliver to a lot has tattoos of the earth on his arms and always smiles and talks to me and his child walks around and says “HI PIZZAMAN, HI PIZZAMAN!” and smiles only a way children can. I’ve delivered to new grandparents, new parents, new homeowners, to people who smile just because they are good. I’ve delivered to elderly people for who I am, likely, their only contact with anyone all day. I’ve delivered to people who can hardly move but still have happiness.
Of course, there’s the opposite. There’s a woman on Shangri-La ( I tell you this not for you to seek her out, but in case you ever have the misfortune of being around her ) that always treats any driver that comes her way like dirt. There are people that don’t want to appear cheap and so send out their kids with exact change. That sounds ungracious of me. I know. But it’s not about me not getting a tip. I get plenty of runs where I don’t get a tip, and it doesn’t bother me. It’s about using their children. People come into the store and sigh and tap their feet and get angry at us because they screwed up when they placed their order or they didn’t call ahead of time and they have to wait or because we are busy and have to wait or because they are just having a terrible day. I’ve delivered and redelivered and redelivered again because people, often times whose houses reek of weed, take advantage of our policy of appeasing the customer. Or worst of all, terrible people. And I get looks. Those are, really, the worst. Today while I was driving in an apartment complex I stopped to let a car turn before me. The girl in the car was beautiful and had blazing red hair. I smiled at her. She fixed me with a look that said, “If I had the chance, I would slit your throat.” No, it was worst than that, but I don’t have the words.
And sometimes I see this face in people, their eyes an alien teardrop shape and a gaping mouth that at a glace is filled with shark teeth. Sometimes I think I am hallucinating them. Sometimes they give me money for their order.
Most of all, the majority of people I deliver to are miserable. Not unpleasant, just clearly sad. Their jobs, their families, their homes- whatever it is that weighs on them just drags them down to a place where I look in their eyes and see nothing. So I say, I just need a total and a signature. The white copy is mine, the yellow is yours. It’s a script I’ve created and that I’ve said so many times it sometimes creeps into my dreams. I try and smile and be pleasant and talk to these sad people before or after or in between the script., in hopes that somehow I can get through to the human left in them and let them know that if the guy that brings them food is pleasant and nice to them, not just because he has to but because he wants to, that maybe there is some hope for something more. Drunk customers are the ones that make me the saddest. “I just… could I just… Just one thing, could you do for me?” Of course, I say. “Just smile and tell me you’ll have a good day.” I will, I say, smiling and trying to take my sadness out of it. I want you to too. Things will be okay.
I’ve had the wonderful luck to have bosses and coworkers that treat me as an equal. They are my friends, and I know this because like my friends outside of work they put up with my silliness and my oddities and my desperate attempts to be funny and my frustration at ridiculous things without looking at me with anger or hatred. They let me know when I’m being an asshole and they can tell and and try to help me when something is wrong. They take me off my high horse when I climb back on.
The most important lesson is just one that has been stressed and drilled into me over and over again lately. You don’t know what peoples lives are like. You don’t know what their day is or how their week was or if they just got fired. You don’t know if their mother just died or their brother was in a terrible car crash or their best friend was raped or if they just had a traumatizing abortion or if they’re dealing with something much worse. Or if they’re dying. Or if they’re stressed. Or if. Or if. Or if.
It’s selfish to tap your feet, to be angry at someone if you’re late. It isn’t right to put your needs above your treatment of others, to blame them for your mistakes, to assume incompetence because something isn’t ready on time or the computer has crashed. To yell at them, to be angry, to jump at something small they say because your life is so stressed or unhappy or boring that you need to take it out on someone else and they are a convieninet face, a medium for you to paint with your rage and then forget because they are strangers and you’ll never see them again anyway. You just breed more of your misery in others. And you have a share of the responsibility, when they drink, when they beat their wives, when they hurt themselves, when they yell at their friends or snap at their parents or smoke themselves into lung caner. When they cry themselves to sleep.
Every miserable second is only exacerbated by miserable people making miserable choices, and there are so many seconds left. I feel like ending this with some cliche about treating others as you want to be treated, or how you should love thy neighbor. It doesn’t matter. Not much sticks anyway.