The world's worst thief
"After I graduated college, back in the spring and early summer of 2010, I mainly worked at my father's car dealership as a detailer/lotman. My best friend was the day manager at a pizza place in a Buffalo, New York suburb and he convinced me to pick up some shifts (mostly delivering) during the week. I felt like I could use the extra money, since I wasn't looking to jump into adult life yet.
"He and I both had a ton of pizzeria and greasy-spoon experience throughout high school and college, because the Western New York area is one where you can't blindly throw a rock out of your window without hitting a pizzeria and then having it ricochet and hit a Greek diner before losing inertia and coming to rest at the entrance to a hot dog joint. As such, our combined fooding experience only necessitated the two of us being there from open, through lunch, and until dinnertime. This was cool, because it gave us ample time to hang out, do crosswords, and just generally fuck around.
"Just to give you an idea what this place was like: The owner also ran a second location of the same pizzeria that he CLEARLY cared much more about than the one my friend and I manned. His store was in fancy new digs in a younger, growing, and much more affluent neighborhood. Ours was in a plaza built before the A-bomb and in a town populated by people from that same era still with Great Depression sensibilities. His store had wonderful services like supply delivery and contained kitchen equipment that was safe, functional, and effective. Our store relied on infrequent supply drop-offs from the owner in his shitty Tacoma pick-up or, failing that, me running down the street to Restaurant Depot to procure luxuries like flour, tomato sauce, and cheese. You may recognize those ingredients as being THE THINGS YOU NEED TO MAKE A FUCKING PIZZA. As for OUR kitchen tools and equipment, well, I'm certain some long-dead Buffalo restaurateur had once paid top dollar for it all through Yugoslavian black-market mail-order catalogs.
"One day during our lunch 'rush' (maybe three people, and I couldn't blame anyone for avoiding this place), this complete dork of a guy came in and ordered three fajitas. This was a rare day when our illustrious owner had graced us with his presence and showered us with his bounty in the form of supplies, so we actually had what we needed to make this wiener his stupid fajitas. I took his order, and because I figured he could pay when he received his food (or perhaps because I hadn't been paid in so long that I had forgotten what the actual transacting of money was), I did not cash him out. My friend made the fajitas while I went and did prep work.
"When the fajitas were made, my friend brought them over to Turbo Doink, and that seemed to be that. When he returned to the kitchen, he gave me a quick look and asked for assurance that the guy had paid. Realization suddenly dawned, and I said I had figured the guy would pay when we brought out his food. After a second's pause we both rushed to the front door to see The Dork SPRINTING across the huge parking lot with the odd gait of some kind of raptor ballerina daintily holding a package. My friend, a fit and athletic former D-1 lacrosse player who doesn't suffer any shit, got out ahead of me, then came to a stop and shouted across the parking lot, 'Hey! Are you gonna pay for that?!'
"Now, here's the truly amazing part (bear in mind, he had ALREADY REACHED HIS CAR and was WELL out of our range): He stopped, turned around, and then sheepishly walked back to the store like a kid caught pilfering butterscotch candies from his grandmother's purse. The fucker should have just hopped in his car and drove off! He was already seen running, we weren't close enough to get a look at his plates (nor would we have had the wherewithal to do so, anyway), and it's not like he left us his name! This caper could have become a legend for this dorktopus to tell his friends about the time he stuck it to the MAN. In this case, though, the MAN would be two bitter college graduates who, by all rights, should have just let EVERY fucking customer walk away with free food.
"Anyway, Sir Dongle returns, battered, broken, humiliated, but defiant. He proceeds to mealy-mouth some shit about how long the fajitas took to make and my friend looks him square in the glasses and says, 'Even if that were true, you would take that to mean you could just fucking steal food?!' I don't quite remember what happened after this point beyond the guy paying and leaving and us laughing at both his brazenness and stupidity." -- Andrew Calliero
Do you have a restaurant, home-cooking, or any other food-adjacent story you’d like to see appear in Off the Menu (on ANY subject, not just this one)? Please email WilyUbertrout@gmail.com with "Off the Menu" in the subject line (or you can find me on Twitter @EyePatchGuy). Submissions are always welcome!
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