Monday, November 12, 2007

Pepperoni or Cheese? Simple Question For Some; Vexing, Mind-Blowing, Life-Altering Decision For Others

marsha takeda morrisonA couple of weeks ago I was asked to help out at Back-To-School night at Kira's middle school. This is a chance for the parents to meet the teachers, and the PTA and booster clubs at most schools use it as a fundraising opportunity to sell food and drinks beforehand. While the idea of putting on a pair of plastic gloves and dishing out five hundred pieces of pizza sounded daunting, I hadn't had a chance to volunteer at Kira's new school, so I agreed. Besides, knowing how tight money is in the system these days, one slice of pizza sold could mean the difference between my kid having paper towels in the girls bathroom or having to wipe her hands on her shirt like we make her do at home.

By the time I arrived the other parents had already set up a row of tables on which sat eighty pizzas in insulated carriers. My job was to stand at the first table and offer a choice of either cheese or pepperoni; I would hand out the cheese slices and send the pepperoni requests to the next table, and then to the next for salad and drinks. Easy enough, thank god, since I was anxious to make a good impression on my first middle-school volunteering assignment. I'd hate to screw up and have one of the other senior moms give me a wedgie and shove me into a locker.

Everyone was cooperative and the line moved swiftly. And why not? The decision to have pepperoni or cheese pizza isn't exactly a hard one. (Not like trying to decide whether to have your cappuccino dry or semi dry - sometimes I ponder that one for a good ten minutes.) I got into a rhythm, and soon was calling out "pepperoniorcheese" like it was one word, like the really cool pizza guys do. Why, I was beginning to see a future for myself in food services and was dreaming of what I would look like in a stylish hair net, barking out orders for my fry cooks to "Load up another rasher of bacon!"

But my nirvana was cut short right at at the busiest time, in the form of a sixth grade girl and her mother. I could tell there was going to be trouble as soon as I asked "Pepperoni or Cheese?" and the girl furrowed her brows, put her hands on her hips and tried to peer into the box. "What kind of pizza is it?" she asked, oblivious to the bright blue and red Dominos logo on the lid - perhaps she thought I had drawn it on all the boxes myself with a Sharpie. When I stated the obvious, she whispered something to her mother who then asked if her daughter could see the pizza. Sure, I said, and opened the box. I glanced at the forty people behind them in line and shrugged, giving them my "Aren't people just wacky?" look.

More whispering followed, and then the mother asked if she could see another pizza. I paused, but obligingly opened the lid of another box, hoping they'd both suddenly realize they were lactose intolerant and transfer to another school. And then? Even more whispering.

And the mother asked to see a third pizza.

Sure! I answered. But why stop there? Just step around the tables here and let me open up all eighty pizzas, so that you can carefully examine each and every one. Take your time! Find the one, perfect slice out of all six hundred pieces, and once you find the one you want, I'll pick it up with my platinum spatula, have it blessed by the Pope and then serve it up to you on this diamond-encrusted plate.

Actually, I refused. I pointed to the line behind them, now fifty people long, and told them they'd have to choose a piece out of the twenty pieces before them. I pointed out that they were all the same, and if she wasn't sure maybe a nice plate of salad and a bottled water would make a lovely meal for the two them this evening. After some heavy sighing by the girl and a dirty look thrown my way from her mother, they finally pointed to two pieces of cheese pizza. I had to seriously hold myself back from licking each piece and rubbing them on my butt before handing them over.

What the hell is wrong with this mother? Okay, your kid's a picky eater - I get it. I'm sure she spends hours at home just trying to find something her kid will eat, running herself ragged trying to make sure her pizza is just the right shade of orange, and her spaghetti noodles are arranged in a pleasing counter-clockwise pattern on her plate. But when you're in a public place, holding up a line, isn't it time to say enough already?

I want to warn the poor guy who takes this girl out on a dinner date in ten years. She'll be the one who has to inspect the kitchen first, grills the waiter about every ingredient in every dish on the menu before she finally settles on the vegetable soup, and then asks to have them remove every speck of parsley, serve the potatoes on the side and have the carrots cut into the shapes of the silhouettes of the last ten presidents.

And whatever you do, don't take her out for pizza.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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  1. That was hilarious, yet maddening and then more hilarious. Those kind of people encourage my impulse to holler.

  2. OMG - People like that make me CRAZY.

    I think your patience in that situation was commendable.

  3. Yay - you're back.

    Don't send this girl to my house. I'll make her eat the pizza box.

  4. do you think her brain explodes when one of her friends askes if she wants nacho cheese or cool ranch doritos?

    because, honestly, that question can plague me for days.

  5. a faux sneeze while serving it might've been a nice touch.

    maybe that's just me.

  6. Aarrggghhh...people and their food neuroses!

    i say you showed great restraint, SPM. I think the pizza on the butt would have been a great idea.

  7. At a Bonfire Night a couple of years ago I was selling tea and coffee and I had a woman ask me what roast the coffee was and if I had any Earl Grey tea. It took all the strength I had not to kill her... especially when she handed me a £20 note for a 30pence cup of coffee.
    These people are sent to try us, and the mere fact that they are still alive proves that we are good people.

  8. whoa. that was some deep pizza interaction you had to endure, dude. But, you done good.

  9. Like mother like daughter. Hope that mom isn't on the PTA board.

  10. I suppose a Faux lick of the pizza as you slapped it on the plate would have been out?

    Then a Hearty
    "Thank god my herpes infection is improving!"


  11. As the mother of a TERRIBLY picky eater, I have to say:

    I would never, ever do what that woman did. Especially not with 50 people in line behind me. Sheesh. If your kid can't handle cheese pizza (which mine often can't), BRING YOUR OWN FOOD.

  12. you showed amazing restraint.

    i would have said, "are you f*****g kidding me?"

    but then again, i don't like people too much.

  13. Oh my god, I'd have flipped out entirely. I know kids are picky but what's the mom's excuse? What on earth were they looking for? So, so weird.

  14. So, so funny!! I work as a server in a restaurant and moms let their kids do that ALL THE TIME!! But what is funny is how mad it makes the dad. And how guilty the dad feels, which leads to a better tip- usually.

  15. You just know that little girl will grow up to be a woman who needs all her canned goods lined up EXACTLY right with the labels all facing out.

  16. Wow, you were more patient than I probably would have been.
    Yikes, you gotta' wonder what goes on in some people's heads...

  17. Argh!!
    Parents who enable that kind of behavior make me angry.

    You wouldn't believe how many kids are like that..
    And ADULTS I work with

  18. I find that the more I have to deal with the general public? THe more I love my dog. She'll eat anything.

    With my luck THAT will be the girl my son marries someday. Gah.

  19. She'll be Sally to her best friend Harry. Everything "on the side"!

  20. oh. my. GOD. Are you serious? son is a picky eater and he STILL doesn't do stuff like that. (well, he isn't picky with pizza. I mean, what kid is???)
    You should have gotten that little brat by herslef, given her the wedgie and a shove in to the locker. Take THAT!

  21. Hi sweatpantsmom,

    Thanks for leaving a comment in my post Meta tag for your blog. I have responded to your comment.

    Peter Blog*Star
    Blogger for Dummies

  22. What were they thinking? Especially the mother????
    I probably would have gotten really snarky and asked her if she wanted me to open all 80 boxes while the 50 other people in line waited patiently.

  23. As the parent of a 7th grader myself, I can just imagine that scene. I would have wanted to punch the mother for creating that. "Oh, my child is speshul and she can take as muuuch time as she neeeeeddds to pick out her fooooood." I hate people that are raising those types of entitlement kids, because they grow up to be entitlement adults, and we all know how much fun they are to deal with.

    Did you forget to wear your very special "No, Actually The World Does NOT Revolve Around You" mom t shirt whilst serving the pizza? :)

    Actually, you're a hero in my book for volunteering at all. When they ask for volunteers, you'll usually find me hiding at the back of a large group of people.

  24. oh boy. i hate to say this but I WAS that girl. My poor Mom. I can recall our first (and only) trip to Disney, we stayed at the continental and went for dinner in the bottom with several resteraunts. we went to each one and i was like NO NO NO. BITCH BITCH BITCH, luckily my Dad was nnot tolerate of this behaviour and we sat down and ate somewhere and i had to suffer. my kid is not too picky but the important point is - i don't cater to her, if she can't find something, then she can starve.

  25. Maybe they thought you were hiding a special pizza somewhere in the 80 boxes, and they just had to check to make sure. You showed admirable restraint in not muttering something unpleasant under your breath.

  26. Perplexing, that one.

    She will end up ordering like Sally in "When Harry Met Sally", but only not as endearing, for sure!

    So, when's your next volunteer assignment? We could coordinate ours and cyber-drink after! ;)

  27. well, maybe not a cheese pizza. Imagine what would have happened if, say, you were serving chicken from a bucket???

  28. Oh good grief! You're a much better volunteer than me. When asked if they could SEE the pizza, I'd have asked, "Why - do you think it's doing tricks?"

    This is why, as a public service, I steer clear of PTA functions. I pay my dues and stay away. It works out better this way - for all involved. LOL

  29. you showed far more restraint than i would have. i would have picked up two pieces and smacked them with them.

    I can not stand people like that mother. grrr.

  30. I love when people are just totally oblivious to all the other people around them. Holding up the line, making demands. Makes me wanna smack some heads together.

  31. You were a GREAT sport about this. Seriously, if it had been me and I'd had PMS I probably would have said, Just PICK A FREAKING PIECE!

    You are favorite line (among several):

    "I'll pick it up with my platinum spatula, have it blessed by the Pope and then serve it up to you on this diamond-encrusted plate."

  32. That would have been a no-brainer for me. Cheese. I never get any toppings on my pizza.

    But the thing about pizza that really makes me angry is this: When there's a group of people, and it's decided that pizzas should be ordered, there ensues a 30-minute discussion about what kind.

    How about 1/2 pepperoni, 1/2 sausage?
    I don't like sausage.
    Shut up, Walt.
    I want a veggie.
    I can do anything but onions and mushrooms.
    OK, so we'll get 1/2 pepperoni, 1/2 green peppers and ham.
    Oh! No ham either. Jewish.
    What about anchovies?
    Ugh. I like bacon.
    I just want plain cheese.
    Plain cheese is BORING! You need toppings.
    No, I just want plain cheese.
    What about 1/2 onions/mushroom, 1/s sausage? Then we'll get a veggie and a pepperoni?
    Oh, and 1 boring-ass plain cheese for Kevin.

    Then, when the pizza arrives...everybody takes a slice of cheese first.

    When all is said and done, every single pizza has some leftovers...EXCEPT the cheese...which I only got one slice of.

    I hate pizza parties.

  33. I work in the school cafeteria, and there is this one kid on pizza day that makes us all want to slit our wrists. His mother actually CAME IN to the cafeteria and switched her son's pizza with another kid - the slice her son had was too well done and he wasn't ALLOWED to eat "burnt" pizza. The next pizza day, she sent an email to the teacher, requesting that she make sure I don't serve her precious burnt pizza.

    Cheese? Gets BROWN. It's not burnt. AND, if you don't like it, don't buy lunch that day.

    Sorry. Tiny vent there.


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