Last evening I told Mrs. Dada if she would call in the order, I would go pick up a pizza for supper. Editor Sam, she and I would take it out back and consume it amid our new cushy patio furniture. "Be ready in ten minutes!" she was told. It's always ready in 10-15 minutes.
But last night was different. Before entering the pizza parlor, I noticed it's parking lot was pretty empty. The emptiest I remembered seeing. And for the first time ever, when I went in for pick-up, the pizza wasn't ready. In fact, when at the counter, instead of asking for the name on the order, they asked what kind of pizza we'd ordered....like they really hadn't begun to make it yet. So I repeated our phone-in order and was told it would be right out.
Taking a seat, I noticed two other parties waiting for the pizzas. I'd never seen this before. But sitting there gave me a chance to observe the operation.
"Thanks for coming!" was the manager's annoying shout across the room to each customer group as they exited the front door. I then got to next hear him point out to his help that dirty tables needed cleaning after customers left them. "Thank you," he said to his busboy as he parted for the dining room with his cart.
A few minutes later I was asked if I'd like something to drink. I politely declined, but took the offer as an implication the pizza was going to take still longer. After a few more minutes of sitting there, thinking somehow what I was seeing - fewer customers, slower service, apologetically accommodating behavior sans any explanation I might expect a pizza anytime soon, or apology - was somehow connected to our sinking economy.
The idea we really shouldn't be splurging for pizza then started creeping in my thoughts until, tired of waiting, I got up and walked! When I arrived home empty handed, Mrs. Dada was on the phone. It was the pizza parlor wondering why I'd left. Did we still want the pizza? Would I want to talk to them?
Handing the phone to me, I explained politely why I left. I had tired of waiting and that I no longer wanted the pizza. "Would you like to talk to the manager?" they asked. I thanked her and said, "No, that's okay." I figured they knew the implication of my departure just as I'd surmised the implication of their offer for a free soda while I had waited.
I hope the lost sale of a pizza to us last night doesn't cost anyone their job or layoffs due to declining revenues. These are hard times. We still like pizza. And it's nice to have a good little pizza parlor close by, that is, if we can continue to afford it occasionally and they can afford to stay open with declining sales.