Monday, October 8, 2012

Misplaced Indignation

     I looked carefully at the ticket the waiter handed me and shook my head. I had been a pizza cook at the Lahaina Pizza hut close to nine months and thought I had seen everything. But this was too much. I called the waiter over.
     “Look at this,” I told him. “These X’s here mean cancel that item. You said these people want no cheese on their pizza.”
     The waiter confirmed that was what he meant.  I tried to stay calm and moved closer to this new guy who seemed to know nothing and needed a little talking to from an experienced pizza man.
     “You can’t have a pizza without cheese,” I said. “Cheese is what a pizza is all about.”
     “That’s how they want it,” he explained. I looked at the ticket and then into the dining area at the table with a young couple, tourists most likely, who thought they could order a pizza without cheese. I didn’t know how to tell this poor naïve waiter that he had gone too far indulging them.
     “You can’t have a pizza without cheese…” I repeated.
     “Yes you can,” said the manager walking by.
     I was incredulous. How did this man get to be manager?
     “They can’t do this,” I protested. “It’s a veggie pizza. Without the cheese, all the vegetables will burn. You can’t have a pizza without cheese, you just can’t.”
     We made the pizza. Once it was in the oven, I called some other cooks over and pointed to the table and explained that those people had ordered a pizza without cheese.
     “Eeeewww,” they all said. I felt validated.
     In addition to that validation, I felt like a monstrous injustice had been committed and told all my friends and anyone who would listen for the next week about it.
     And today, 26 years later, the incredulity I feel now is how much indignation I felt back then. Really David? Let the people order what they want and just let it go. When that was happening, the Berlin wall still stood. Injustice of all kind was worldwide. I got my knickers in a knot about how I thought people ought to want their pizza.
     So I’m older now. There is nothing like a few years to soften someone up and give them a sense of perspective, right? Maybe not. How about having children? That might help someone realize what’s important in life. Two years overseas helps foster a healthy sense of perspective. Granted, it was in a developed country with clean water and impressive infrastructure. And if that didn’t calm me down and realize what is important, having a child diagnosed with cancer at three years old is something. Talking care of her for three and a half years, going through scans, surgeries and all sorts of trials did quite a lot to help me realize what was important and see the big picture.
     But did this last?
     A piece of furniture disappeared at work last week. It vanished without explanation and no-one knew where it had gone or who took it. People at work were a little disturbed. I was particularly upset. I had been one of the last one’s out of the building that night and had walked right by the shelf that had been noticed missing the next day. I took it personally. And even though I didn’t visibly bluster, I bottled up some intense feelings.
     Then the furniture piece was found in a locked closet. So now it’s back where it belongs. But the question of who, why, when and how might never be answered. And that still bugs me. When I updated my family that the shelf had been found, there was little joy or interest. I probably appeared emotional when I told about it. Jamie, who is almost 11 years old, asked me if I was going to blog about it. Prajna rolled her eyes at the thought of me venting my frustrations over such a petty issue.
     But I was intrigued. I thought about the indignation I felt over such a little thing. I thought I had gotten over that. I thought I had learned to pick my battles and not sweat the small stuff. Was it enough that I didn’t burst out in anger and keep my feelings to myself over such a little thing? I didn’t insult anyone’s taste in pizza this time. Did I deal with this in a healthy way?
     I don’t know. I do know this, if I found out who moved the furniture and locked it in a closet I would want to throw burned vegetables at them. I might not be over this. Most of all, I wish I knew why they did it. And it all comes down to this: I might never know.
     I might never know. But one day I’ll get to heaven where there will be no sorrow, pain or confusion. I will see my daughter again. Maybe in heaven there’s a library with all kinds of data someone can look up and it would have this incident listed. Or maybe I won’t care about it anymore. Maybe once I get to heaven there will be plenty of cheesy pizza.


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