Sunday, April 15, 2007

Calls for a Chicken Parm

As usual, my day had dragged on longer than I expected, and late in the afternoon, doing laundry at the laundromat, I still hadn't eaten.

Although I should be eating fruits and vegetables, avoiding salt, I figured "What the hell" and headed across the street for the New York Pizza shop. This calls for a chicken parm.

The pizzeria is staffed primarily with college students, mostly men, and they have never excelled at customer service. This time, I stood at the unmanned counter, waiting for quite a few minutes, with no results, although I could hear voices from the kitchen. Finally I leaned over the counter and saw three college age kids standing in a circle, talking. One of them caught my eye for a fraction of a second and quickly turned to pretend he hadn't. I waited some more, still with no results. I thought about leaving, but I was hungry, and in a small town, options are limited.

Then I had an idea. Looking around, I found a flyer with a menu and a phone number. While the few customers in the booths watched with interest, I reached for the phone on the counter and dialed the number. One of the guys in the back room came flying out when it rang, picking up another phone on the second ring. "New York Pizza--can I help you?"

"Yes," I replied, standing just four feet away. "I'd like to order a chicken parm." He hurriedly hung up the phone and took my order, while the gentleman in the booth to my right laughed his ass off.

About fifteen minutes later, as I enjoyed my parm while reading the newspaper, the boss arrived. He's a medium height, early middle age Italian man, quiet and reserved. He moves with the sure but understated mastery of someone who has done something for years and years. He rarely speaks, and then just a few words of instruction, unheard to anyone else. He seems like a nice enough guy, but I've never seen him smile. He seems detached, yet not disinterested either.

The place was all business now, the staff bustling about. It's usually this way--not friendly, but not cold either. Turnover seems high, probably not surprising given a staff of mostly college students. The walls feature photos of Italy and presumably family, giving a touch of warmth immediately dispelled by the stark decor and the not too dirty, not particularly clean balance common in the booths. The staff rarely talks to customers, even to acknowledge them. They don't smile either. The food is good, and consistent, but not extraordinary to the point that customers would seek it out. Phone orders clearly get priority. I wonder if the boss checks in by phone sometimes.

Writer

1 comment:

Pegasus said...

for a newbie.. its a nice post.