autobiographical

The Time I Got Fired From Pizza Hut

I worked at Pizza Hut as a waitress the summer after my first year of college.  It was the first of many serving gigs.

Pizza Hut had its fun moments.  Waiting tables, even at a chain pizza place, was much more lucrative than the customer service minimum wage jobs I had prior to that.  People used to go out to eat pizza.  Maybe they still do this?  I don’t.  Pizza is the food you get because you don’t feel like going out.

Pizza Hut in the late 90s was the familiar red-roofed building with a somewhat dark interior, complete with red and white checkered table coverings and personal jukeboxes in each booth.  People had birthday parties for their kids there.  We had a lunch time pizza buffet and people came in on their lunch break.  We had a rudimentary salad bar with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, croutons, a few types of dressing and two types of soup.  You could order a personal pan pizza and it came to you in the pan, which seems hazardous in retrospect.  Those pans were hot as hell.  We sold beer by the mug or pitcher and we a most exciting variety on tap: Bud or Bud Light.  Soda was served in big red clear plastic cups and a big red pitcher for refills. 

Incidents at Pizza Hut that summer:

  • The time we made a Personal Pan Crayon.  We unwrapped a bunch of the crayons that were for kids to color on the paper kid place-mats, put them in the personal pan pizza pan, and sent it through the oven.  This was a truly ill-conceived idea.  We thought we would get an awesome swirl-colored crayon disc.  But pizza ovens are really hot, and wax crayons melt really fast.  So halfway through, they melted over the side of the pan, leaked out into the oven and caused a noxious cloud of smoke that set off the alarms and brought the fire department.  OOPS!
  • The time I passed out while carrying a pan pizza.  I am lucky I did not burn myself.  This was one of 3 times in my life I passed out unexpectedly.  It happened when I was 19, 22, and again at 35.  I have no idea why nor do any of my doctors.
  • The time a table of French-speaking tourists came in and ordered one medium pizza each.  Despite my repeated attempts to explain that a medium pizza could feed 2-3 hungry people, and 3 years of high school French under my belt, they didn’t get it.  When the 8 medium pizzas for 8 people arrived, their shocked faces were unforgettable.

I ended up getting fired after an incident involving an angry man.

It was later in the evening and we were close to closing time.  A very large group came in, something on the order of 20 people.  We seated them and I took their orders.  They were all very friendly, all but one.  The group was mostly women and there was one man.  The man was very grumpy. The good-natured women in the group laughed and joked with me and said to pay him no mind.  But he was very angry and grouchy the entire time.

Because it was late, there was not enough silverware for all of them as it was in the dishwasher or dirty.  I discussed this with the other waiter who was working and we decided to give them plastic utensils.  It’s pizza anyway, barely anyone ever used the utensils except moms cutting up pizza to feel to children too small to eat it as a whole piece.  

Grouchy man did not like this, or anything.  Unfortunately grouchy man was paying and I was glad that the gratuity was included for large tables or I am sure he would have stiffed me.

A few days later the manager fired me.  Grouchy man had called in to complain and the manager had a policy of firing anyone who received a customer complaint.  When I tell the short version of this story, I just say I was fired for giving people plastic silverware at Pizza Hut.

I was 19 and didn’t really care.  I used it as a reason to go to Atlantic City with some friends instead.

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