Tuesday, May 22, 2012
The Pizza Diaries, Part 6: F* You, Dave Ramsey!
I remember a particularly bleak moment during my pizza delivery career. It was a Friday night, and I was already exhausted from working night and day all week. It was pouring rain, it was dark out, and I had no umbrella. I was to deliver a large pie to a sketchy-looking apartment complex. When I got there, my heart sank. There were no visible numbers on any of the buildings and no lighting to speak of.
One thing that enrages me about the area where we live? People around here have entitlement issues. So much so that in the ultra-ritzy areas, there are many homes that are not even numbered and they’re surrounded by fences and moats and gargantuan trees. Yet, people call up and order takeout with no special instructions as to how that takeout is supposed to appear at their doorstep.
The flip-side of the entitlement coin is that the rich slumlords who own the apartment complexes don’t believe that their
money should have to go towards maintaining their properties. So whenever I had to take an order to someone’s
apartment, I knew to expect the unexpected.
No numbers on any of the buildings?
Maybe. No lighting, and tons of
cracks in the sidewalks?
Definitely. Rickety staircases
that threatened to collapse at any moment?
And to top it off, even the people who live in these holes have an entitlement attitude. Their “apartment” might actually be an underground hovel beneath a Jiffy Lube, and yet, they will call in an order and just say, “Yeah, I live at 123 Main Street.” No clarification whatsoever about how to get their pizza from my car to their front door, which might require me to negotiate the city’s sewer system.
So anyway, there I am, at a run-down, never-ending apartment complex. Soaking wet, hungry, and cranky, I could not find apartment 9A. There was an 8, a 9, and a 10, but no 9A.
I remember standing near the entrance holding a heavy thermal bag and thinking, “Fuck you, Dave Ramsey. Why the hell did I take a job delivering pizza just cause some radio personality told me debt is bad? Everyone I know has some kind of debt and none of them are working on a Friday night.”
Finally, I called the customer and he came outside to meet me. At that point, I had my suspicions that there was no apartment 9A, and I was either being set up for a mugging or some homeless person used the address to get delivery service.
It turned out neither was the case. Apartment 9A was in the only place I hadn’t looked, next to the janitor’s closet underneath the stairs. That’s the other thing I hate about the area where I live – if the houses and apartments are actually numbered, the numbering might not make sense. Which kind of defeats the whole purpose of numbering to begin with, but I digress.
After I mentally told off Dave Ramsey and completed my delivery, I realized that I hadn’t taken the pizza job because someone on the radio told me to. I had done it as a test to see if debt had broken my spirit. The thing about me is that I’m a fighter. And when I feel beaten down by life, my response is to fight back. I can’t fight from behind a desk. I can’t fight using a graduated repayment plan. I fight physically. If pizza delivery is anything, it is physical. There’s lifting, carrying, navigating, running, climbing, and self-defense. As long as I was doing all of these things, I knew I had lived to fight another day. Each delivery meant I was closer to paying off my student loans.
The other thing I loved about pizza delivery was that it was a way of taking what I felt was mine. No one could tell me I wasn’t qualified for the job, and getting it meant instant cash. I didn’t have to wait around for some reject in human resources to give me a phone screening. I didn't have to write a disingenuous cover letter. I just walked in, asked for a job, and got one. I would pay off my debt on my timeline, not anyone else’s.
So although there were moments when I wanted to strangle Dave Ramsey and give up on the idea of debt freedom, most of the time I simply felt alive. Law school debt hadn’t beaten me. I now know where I fall on the toughness scale, ranging from J. Wellington Wimpy to Jake La Motta.
And if anyone has any doubts, all I have to say is, “Did you fuck my wife?"