|Ridiculousness: The Sequel
||[Nov. 14th, 2007|12:15 am]
One Helluva Guy
|||||XTC - The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead||]|
It wasn’t until two o’clock in the morning that I became worried. I had prepped up fifteen medium pies and fifteen large, and it was no big thing for me take the orders as they came and toss them into the oven. Joe had brilliantly suggested that we turn on the classic “Ridiculousness” mix to pump us up for the business we knew was coming, and it had certainly done it’s job. I could feel it; Joe and I both knew that the dance had begun, and we were each in our proper positions.
Working with Joe was different from working with Keith. Keith did a fantastic job making sure everything was run correctly as he worked the phones and carryout, all the while calling out our statistics for the hour so far: our sales, labor, and average delivery times. It had been nice, but sometimes I’d wished he would just shut the fuck up and let me focus on slapping pies.
Joe was different. He did just as great a job with the phones and carryout, but now I was in charge of the shift. I didn’t have Keith there to route the deliveries to the drivers, and I couldn’t let someone else slap or the entire system would have crumbled. I would have to run the store from the slap table, and I knew that strategically, that was the worst place in the store to try and do so.
But when I turned my head over my left shoulder, I had Joe expertly handling the drunken customers, dividing his time evenly between the ringing phones, the customers picking up pies in our carryout area, putting in fax orders from Campusfood.com, and hanging labels on boxes for the pies coming out of the oven. And when I turned my head over my right shoulder, I had Joey pulling pies out of the oven and putting them in boxes, calling out when a carryout’s pie was ready, and stacking pie screens neatly on the prep table to cool before bringing them back to me to put more pies on.
When I had worked with Keith, we always had an inexperienced insider working our ovens and just hoping for the best. Back then, it was me and Keith against the world, trying to get as many orders in and as many pies in the oven as quickly as possible while trying to hold the store together as it hung by a thread.
But it wasn’t like that now. Joe, Joey and I had, as we called it, “started the dance.” We occupied the same space at the same time, each performing our separate, yet intertwined functions, all without getting in one another’s way. Joey walked right past me to put cooled screens back on my rack without my even noticing. Joe posted labels for Joey as he talked on the phone with a customer long before Joey ever needed the box he was posting. We danced around one another in perfect rhythm, all the while shouting to each other the lyrics from the eighties love songs that pounded on in the background, courtesy of the Ridiculousness mix.
And then two o’clock hit. I always expected a hit at two o’clock, when the bars closed; whether it came or not, it was always better to be ready for it. That night, however, I HAD been prepared for a rush, but I was in no way prepared for what actually happened.
“Hey, what the fuck’s up with the dispatch screen?” called my driver, Logan, from the other side of the store.
“Whaddayou mean, what’s up with the dispatch screen?” I called as I dropped some sausage onto a medium pie. “What’s wrong with it?”
“It’s all fucked up. There’s all these runs on here that don’t exist, they’re not fuckin’ anywhere.”
“What the eff?” I exclaimed as I pushed the last pie into the oven and rushed my way across the store. I looked at the dispatch screen to see several bright red runs up on the screen, some at an hour and fifteen minutes old. “Wha—what?” I scratched my head as I looked up at the screen.
“These orders DO exist,” I said, puzzled. “The order number is about thirty away from our latest run right now. These orders have already been delivered.”
“Well, it’s not letting me clock in,” Logan said as he poked at the screen. “And the runs that we DO have up aren’t on the screen. What do I do?”
“Not letting you—what the fuck?” I said, becoming irritated. I glanced over at my makeline. I was hanging four pies. Three more popped up as I watched. “Shit, I don’t have time for this...” I tried to clock my drivers back in quickly, but to no avail. “What are you taking?” I asked Logan.
“Uh, the Mary Jane Circle and the Pheasant Run,” he answered.
Joe came over from the phones and looked at the dispatch screen. “What’s up? What’s going on?”
“I’m on it,” I told him. “Get back on phones.” I turned back to Logan. “Look, it looks like the orders that are up now aren’t on the screen, but anything we’re clearing is going up there. I’ll dispatch your runs manually. Just go.”
Logan bagged his runs and headed out the door as I ran to the computer closest to my slap table to dispatch him. Once I had done that, I turned my attention back to the makeline. However, each driver that returned to the store had the same complaints: “I can’t clock in”, “Where are these runs?”, “What’s wrong with the dispatch screen?”
“Look,” I told each and every one of them, “I don’t know what’s wrong with the dispatch screen. I’m going to have to dispatch you manually from over here until the computer catches up with us. Just tell me your number and the order numbers of the runs you’re taking when you leave.”
Luckily, my time off the makeline hadn’t put me too far behind. Nothing had gone in the oven over four minutes old. I still had plenty of preps, and it was a good thing, because the orders were coming in strong.
When Joe got a break on the phone, he came behind me and said, “Hey, Jeff, our system time says it’s one-fifteen, but it’s two-fifteen. Could that be what’s going on on the dispatch?”
I shook my head without halting my pie-making. “That doesn’t make any sense. Why would it do that? Daylight savings isn’t for another week.”
“Yeah, but that just started last year. These are old computers, they might have been set for the old daylight savings.”
“Alright, fine, but these computers aren’t supposed to update automatically. We have to change the time manually after close on Saturday...” I stopped talking. “I suppose that’s so...THIS wouldn’t happen.”
The good mood I was in had faded. We were still getting our deliveries out on time, but you wouldn’t know it looking at the numbers. I knew for a fact that we only had six late deliveries for the night so far, putting us just above ninety-five percent on-time...but the computer was counting all the deliveries that had already been delivered and were back on the screen as “late.” I was pissed, and everyone could tell. I was getting pies in the oven with a speed born not out of determination, but out of anger. We were doing a great job, goddammit. We had the A-team staffing the store. I looked up at the screen. For Christ’s sake, our oldest pie going in the oven was at six minutes, and we had been relentlessly busy. While I topped pies, I calculated our pie hour in my head. We’d done seventy-two pizzas so far that hour, plus the twenty-six sides...six plus two is eight, two plus seven is nine...
I stumbled over my next pie. I stopped for only a second, then continued to top the pie as the realization hit me. We’d done ninety-eight pies so far in the hour. I turned to put the pie in the oven and stretched my head to see the time. Two forty-three.
I was going to beat my record.
I ran back to the slap table and pounded out the next pie. I was hanging twelve on the makeline. I had more than fifteen minutes to get in as many orders as I could before the hour was over. At this point, my record beaten. It was just a matter of by how much I would blow it out of the water.
“Let’s get those Campusfood orders on the floor into the system, Joe!” I yelled out.
Joe shot me a look that said, “I’m on the fucking phone, I know about the goddamn Campusfood orders!”
As I continued to bang out the pies, I realized that Joe was under enough stress as it was. I waited until he got off the phone and I called out, “Joe, it’s two forty-five. We’ve done a hundred and twelve pies so far this hour. Do you know what this means?”
Joe blinked, then his eyes lit up. “You’re gonna beat your record!” he exclaimed.
“WE’VE already beaten it, Joe,” I said as I threw another pie into the oven. “The question is how MUCH are we gonna beat it by? We need to get as many orders in the system as we can while it’s still the two o’clock hour. It doesn’t matter when they get made, just that they’re in our system before three. Now, those Campusfood orders cannot sit on the floor. Let’s get them IN.”
Joe nodded and picked up the Campusfood orders, calling out to the driver that just walked in, “Clock in and put in three of these orders!” I grinned as I slapped out an extra-large.
Joey came up behind me with screens. I slapped out a large pepperoni and tossed it into the oven. “One hundred and twenty-four!” I called out to Joe as he posted a label while greeting a carryout customer (managing to pull off a cheerful greeting while still stressing urgency at the same time, I might add). My sour mood had lifted, and the entire store had resumed “the dance.” We danced around one another, each expertly performing their function as I called out our pie hours to my teammates, and we ate it up.
“One hundred thirty-two!”
“One hundred forty-four!”
“One hundred fifty-three!”
“One hundred fifty-four, what time is it, Joey?”
“It’s three-oh-five, J!” answered Joey. I looked up at my screen. My oldest pie hung steady at six minutes. It was still within the window. I furiously slammed pepperonis down on the \pie and threw it into the oven.
“A hundred and fifty-five pies,” I said under my breath, and as I cleared my next pie, all my pie-hour columns shifted. Last hour shifted to one fifty-five, this hour shifted to one.
I looked up at the clock. “We’ve got fifty-four minutes until close, guys,” I yelled to anyone that could hear me. “We did a hundred and fifty-five pies last hour, six minutes in the oven. Let’s finish this up with as much as we can.”
I was tingling. It wasn’t over yet, and that was good, because the adrenaline had yet to wear off. The computer thought that our late percentage was much more than it really was, but I knew. I knew nothing had gone in that oven over six minutes old, and nothing had left the store more than nine minutes after that. We didn’t have a single late delivery after midnight, and we had done so during a record pie hour, with more than a little computer trouble.
We were the A-team. Everything had gone absolutely swimmingly. Everyone in the store, driver or insider, worked as one unit. We were a well-oiled pizza delivery machine, and we hadn’t just survived a hundred and fifty-five pie hour, we had conquered it.
And that was only the beginning.