THE PIZZAMAN DIARIES 1 // Russell Jaffe
I took a job as a pizza delivery driver
while I waited for what would happen next.
I took a job as a pizza delivery driver
while I waited to see what might come next.
I'm 33 this year. The same age Christ--what? Died? Was murdered? If he existed at all? A lot of foggy notions in the blue, that's the best I've got for what I'm calling it.
The training driver taught me about where he got the best tips, and where he was carjacked. I didn't like that story, but I liked the aching promises about how easy it is to become a manager, that idea of leveling up;
something I've realized about myself is I really like gestational development.
I have extreme blasto diarrhea either from pizza last night (I had giardiniera on it and ate while I drove home, which was more like a representative performance-artifact of the American condition than it was a dinner, honestly) or it’s because something terrible happened involving a cookie I ate out of the trash. It was sort of George-Costanza-style.
The cookie was one of those small butter cookies that comes around the top of a straw if you get a shake from Potbelly. I saw that the dispatch girl had been drinking this shake with the cookies pushed way down, and then when I came back from a delivery run, I saw that the shake was sitting in the trash, yeah, true, but on TOP of the trash. It wasn’t touching anything. The straw was facing up. Because I was absolutely famished, and no one was looking, I reached in, slid one of the cookies off, and ate it. And then, when I was walking out the door with the next order, with the door closing behind me like a tomb being sealed, I heard her gasp, and another driver laughed—“OH SHIT, ONE OF THE COOKIES IS MISSING!” She gasped loudly; “oh my god, someone ate one of the cookies, oh shit! Hey yo, someone ate one of the cookies!” And then everyone was gasping and laughing, and the door did close, and I left.
See where the cookies are?
Been thinking about that gasp. A gasp of surprise for something having been removed from the trash? Or something more insidious? Where could that cookie have possibly been?
So something terrible even happened, or it was a test of some kind? Who knows, I can’t get off the toilet.
Now it’s 4:48. I feel like I’m indirectly working towards being this paragon of manliness, which I don’t want to be, but it’s this relationship between what I’m actually doing—driving pizzas from a store in town to homes—and what I’m feeling, which is in a state of adjacency, in this country and in my career as a provider in this country, and solid blue, and unsure, and like I’m camping on rocks that are perpetually falling. And that community is a buzzword on a job application, or a flag.
Not even masculinity, but manliness. Where I don’t want to be.
Working, I’m supposed to (it's supposed in general) labor without emotion, the guys when I walked in were talking about the game. I don’t know what game it was. I’m supposed to run around and do the job, and when the job is done, the job’s done. There’s not a lot of consideration for the frivolity of everything. Like, this is pizza we’re delivering. But it is really serious. It’s not really about pizza at all. So there's nothing serious at all! You could sub in anything. It’s a holy act of total system obeisance. Not to be a servant or unwilling slave, but to lose oneself in the rock face of the structural order of the times. It doesn’t matter that it’s me or that it’s this pizza restaurant, and it’s not a performance. It’s the surface fabric upon which all dreams, notions, goals, and living plays itself out. It’s sort of like a holy or religious ceremony. Or even a secular one; to be like, these are the things that unify and tie our binds to make us human beings. We have to behave, or there is nothing.
Without the pizza,
without the ceremonial garb associated with the pizza,
without the ritual of the pizza,
there is nothing.
Standing there, like the angel of death, listening to the delivery kids, all significantly younger than me, talking about strippers and titties and calling each other racial epithets. The Hispanic dispatch girl calls a young black driver the N word and he hugs her. There's a lot of arguing that involves territory claiming ideas--if the cooks are working here and cheating, or trying to add, the take out dispatcher says, her, for example, on Facebook, but she blocks them immediately because they're creepy, it's OK, because their wives are probably getting it in with the neighbors--she knows that happens there, so it's OK. There is so much play fighting and hand slapping. With every camaraderie defining hand slap, I become older. My arms are crossed, I'm scowling, thinking about quitting. I want to be with my kid. Why am I here?
I was young once.
Then, an order: finally, time for action. It's a sandwich, and it's across the kitchen. Pretty simple order, Italian beef sandwich. Only when the ticket prints, it's almost a paragraph long. But why? When I go get the sandwich to bring to the delivery area, I see that the sandwich order has been meticulously deconstructed: Italian bread separate and uncut, peppers separate, a ju in its own container, beef with a melted piece of sweaty mozzarella on it sequestered off in its own container. All of this was laid in a larger container on top of a fruit salad, with a single tomato added wrapped in foil. All of the drivers, including myself, stood around looking at this order, gathered.
Something uncanny before us.
When I wrote this, a ton of comments, a chorus of people talking without listening to each other, or if they were, there was a lot of cascading overlap about Ross. When they DID respond to each other, it was like a crossover of universes from my life.
Distinctly of the times.
Writing this now as a diary, I think that what makes me a poet is synthesis, and that's about it. It's easy to say we're barometers of the times; it's harder to think about how we get hung up on UNcreative patterns of writing like torn clothes stuck blown up and tangle over rooster weathervanes; all the poets were writing about outer space and the body because of the mysteries, and the escape. The macro mysteries of the universe and the micro mysteries of the human body--our cells, galaxies, a lot on endless play...that these external connections of people timestamped from periods of my life but unified without time's constraints on Facebook
fill entireties in me.
Being cut tonight was ecstasy. And this upsets me a lot.
I've had jobs where I learned to love the work and to feel reflexively content in being done, but focused on the work and its being done well, and tended, that at the end there was a dulled joy in the continuum, not a sudden burst of it that dulls itself. It is the joy of living itself instead of the synthetic pop of feeling somewhat freer.
Sonic Youth. "Spirit desire." Have you ever thought about a song?
Jesus Christ, I love the silence.