Domino’s Pizza. Located on the corner of Chicago Ave. and Ridgeland, 100 sq. feet, two blocks away from the south side of Chicago. The front of the store is a gigantic domed glass window. Every surface is painted red, white, or blue. While my friends blew whistles at annoying children at the pool or smoked weed in their basements, I was here, folding boxes and eating horrifying amounts of CinnaStix.
I could always count on Crackhead Preacher to make his grand appearance on Friday afternoons. Dressed in a red pleather suit and gold glitter shades with massive dollar signs on each lens, Crackhead Preacher would bust into the store and beseech the humble workers of Dominos to “GIVE to the LORD, so then the LORD will GIVE.” He would then lean over the counter and wave his yellowed sign-up salvation sheet and rattle his money collection tin. We never gave him anything but cold slices of pizza, but he put us on the salvation sheet anyway.
Handsome, Dominican, and always wearing youth XS t-shirts, Health Bro never missed an opportunity to tell us how unhealthy pizza was. He would pick up two medium pizzas (with two toppings each for only 5.99!) every two weeks or so, freshly showered from some Crossfit or Fit Tone Plus or P90 X-tra Good Looking class. He would lean dangerously close to the brim of my hat and whisper confidentially you can’t eat this crap all the time and look this good.
My favorite coworker was a girl named Joy, who famously broke both her hands when she attacked a tree in a semi-conscious state. I had seen her answer the phone in her regular voice only a handful of times: her go-to was a wicked southern drawl, which many customers misinterpreted as a state of belligerent inebriation. She constantly was refining and retouching her rich bouquet of accents, switching effortlessly from pushy valley girl to throaty Irish brogue.
“I’d like a pizza with half cheese, half pepperoni, and half sausage.”
“I’m sorry ma’am, we don’t do toppings in thirds.”
“I don’t want thirds…I want one half cheese, one half pepperoni, one half sausage!”
“I’m sorry ma’am, but we cannot do that.”
“NO. I WANT HALVES. THE WEBSITE SAYS YOU CAN DO HALVES!”
“Ma’am, I’m very sorry…”
During my first shift, the other phone girls pulled me aside to let me in on The Curse. If you work here for more than three years, whispered Amanda, you will get pregnant. The informer, a mother of a little girl and a veteran of six years, rattled off alarming statistics concerning impregnated workers vs. their time of tenure. Luckily, I missed the three-year mark, avoiding a much-dreaded Dominos Pizza immaculate conception.
The Dominos family tree was as follows: The owner, the owner’s son, the owner’s two nephews, two brothers who are best friends of the aforementioned nephews, three sets of married couples, cousins, second cousins, roommates, best friends, lapsed best friends, former lovers, and current baby daddies. DramaHoz, the store’s nickname, was a bit of an understatement.
I have cried once during work. I put down a pizza party order incorrectly, leaving seventy 6th graders without their crucial sausage topping. When the middle school teacher called, she was fantastically angry. She yelled until my manager came on the line. Her inflated outrage wasn’t uncommon. Every day we dealt with people who thought an apron around your waist made you less able to think, that wearing a company hat or hairnet rendered you emotionally immune to careless comments. My coworkers and I have been insulted, hit on, ignored, and disrespected. Customers have commented on our weight and on our appearance. The customer is not always right. Character isn’t who you are when no one is watching. It’s who you are when you’re talking to the Domino’s pizza girl.