“Hi. Can I speak with a manager, please?” Alice asked the cashier at the till. The young girl nodded and disappeared to the back. While waiting Alice looked After a minute a sort man with a shinier name tag came to help Alice.
“My order was wrong. Can you guys replace it? You can take this one back, I’m not out for free food or anything.” She turned the box around and opened it facing him, she was not sure if she could stomach looking at it again.
“I do apologize, we’ll get a new one in the oven for you. But, uh, what was wrong with this one? You ordered it with everything, right?” The manager looked at the receipt taped to the top of the box. Alice nodded confirmed it.
“It’s probably my fault. I didn’t know what ‘everything’ was,” she apologized. She was perfectly willing to pay for a new one if she had to, but she felt that it wasn’t necessarily her fault. She could not find a list anywhere of the horrible things she found on her pizza. “Can we just make the next one pepperoni?” She asked, hopeful. The manager nodded with a smile. He gestured for her to take a seat and walked to the back of the kitchen. Alice played on her phone and waited for 10 minutes before the manager appeared at her table with a box.
“Thank you!” she said. She had the presence of mind to check her order there and lifted the lid in front of the manager. Instead of the bright red meaty
“Pepperoni?” The manager’s response came in the form of a question.
“How do you get this far into having a pizzeria without knowing what pepperoni is?” Alice asked. The manager looked at the chicken nugget pizza, then back at Alice.
“It’s not pepperoni?” He asked. Alice shook her head. Her mind tried to justify a reason for him not knowing that, but she could not find one. She flashed back to her first pizza with “everything”. Shrimp, french fries, spaghetti and gummy bears. She looked around at the empty restaurant. Initially, she thought it was empty because it was new, but she could not remember when it first appeared.
“What’s going on?” She asked. The manager looked at the ground, and tears started to flow in heavy streams from his eyes while wracking sobs racked his chest. Alice’s heart went out to the stranger and she stepped forward to give him a hug. To her surprise, he eagerly returned the hug and cried into her shoulder. He calmed down enough for them to sit down at a nearby booth. Alice pulled napkins from the dispenser to give him, and he wiped his eyes dry.
“Will you help me?” he said at last.
“With what?” Alice asked. The manager laughed to himself like it was a stupid question and spread his arms wide to gesture at the restaurant as a whole.
“This. I need to get this pizza shop going so that people want to come and eat here. But I don’t know how to do pizza.” he said.
“Then why make a pizza shop?” Alice asked the obvious question. “If you’re willing to hire me on as a manager, I’ll take the job.”
“Of course! We’ll give you whatever you want as long as you help me. I wouldn’t have done pizza if I had a choice, but you know how it is. If the higher-ups want you to open a pizza shop, you open a pizza shop.” Alice nodded, she totally understood unreasonable demands from faceless bosses.
“But wait, that doesn’t make any sense. If you want to make money, you’re starting off really badly.” Alice commented as the cashier girl she talked to earlier handed her a clipboard with what looked like an application on it. She started filling it out immediately.
“Oh, we’re not in it for the money. We have all the money we need. , I said, I need to get people coming through here. Don’t worry though, now that you’re on our team we won’t eat you.” The manager pulled his face off. Alice did not realize it was a mask until he held a loose-hanging piece of flesh-colored material in his hands. The face behind the mask was small and grey with large solid black eyes.
“But what the hell is pepperoni?”