When Ben was a couple of months old, I went back to work as a waitress. I’d waited tables for years before, so I was eagerly hired at the new pizza place that opened up in town. In a sea of newbies, I was a Master of my Trade. Queen of the Kingdom.

The general manager of the restaurant was a guy I’ll call Phil (although, I am stating for the record, this was not his name) and he was a decent guy. For an over-worked underpaid restaurant GM, that’s a huge thing.

He’d show up on the weekends and despite occasionally trying to get us to unsuccessfully have team building meetings at 5PM when the dinner rush was beginning to discuss things like “selling more pizza,” and often telling a server who was so slammed that she was eyeball deep in the weeds to “smile more,” I always liked him. Probably because he called me “efficient” which is a label–unlike ’stupid bitch’ which I am called quite often–that I had never before heard.

Hokey and corny, yes, but Phil was a good guy. Which meant we’d often mock him behind his back–although, I must add, not unkindly–and try to do our best Phil impression. This often involved frowning a lot and bursting out conspiratorially with the often-heard “I think someone is stealing cheese,” and by far and away the best impersonator was one of the managers, a mexican dude named Cesar.

One Saturday night after close, Cesar, who was the night manager, pulled from the manager’s office this large cloth contraption. Mystified, we all grabbed our smokes and gathered ’round, our piles of tips left on the tables near the halfway rolled up basket of silverware. Cesar was laughing so hard that he was crying. Although this wasn’t uncommon as he was known for his excellent sense of humor, we all clamored to know what the hell was so fucking funny.

Once he’d caught his breath and wiped the tears, he turned around the cloth contraption he was holding. On the back it had been brown but on the front, it was red. With large circles of purple and dots of grey felt and slices of green felt. It took us a moment to realize what we were looking at, but we all saw it at the same time.

“Holy SHIT,” Amy–another server–yelled. “That’s a gigantic fucking pizza suit.”

And it was.

Phil had bought us, for no reason we could ascertain, a gigantic triangle-shaped pizza suit. I can swear to you, The Internet as my witness, that I have never, ever laughed so hard in my entire life. It was a typical Phil thing (it is killing me, I should add, to not tell you his real name not because it’s an exciting name, but because I can’t think outside the effing box) to do: pointless yet hilarious, hokey yet comedic, and one of those things that no one else would think was a good idea.

I mean, sure, I do sometimes see those poor fuckers, dressed up as a taco or a sandwich on the side of the road. We live far enough from stuff that driving from place to place is a necessity, so these people merely stand listlessly on the side of the road, wilting in the heat and freezing in the cold and choking on the exhaust of Escalades and Bentley’s. And I will tell you that I have never, ever, EVER stopped to eat somewhere because they had a person dressed as a chicken sadly standing at the side of the road.

If anything, I keep driving and pretend for both of our sakes that it never happened. I had not seen an actual humiliated person standing there, dressed as a large Chicago hot dog or a milk shake. Seemed healthier that way for all parties.

Anyway, there we were, a cluster of servers, bartenders and delivery drivers, staring slack jaw awash in awe of the possibilities that only a gigantic felt pizza suit would provide.


Rick, one of the delivery drivers, acted first. He swooped down, all 6 feet of him, and grabbed the pizza suit from Cesar and held it up to his burly chest before running into the bathroom with it. He emerged, several minutes later, as a slice of pizza. A HUMAN slice of pizza with his face sticking merrily out of the middle of the slice.

It was just too much. I nearly soiled myself.

Who the hell thinks that a human dressing up as food is anything other than a) humiliating or b) hilarious? Phil had, obviously, seen this as an amazing way to attract attention and perhaps increase profits tenfold, but his thinking was predictably flawed.

While a dancing slice of pizza was sure to attract attention–the same way an afro on a white man attracts attention: it was, of course, the wrong KIND of attention. And it was such a uniquely Phil way of doing things, just like standing in front of the single pop machine during the dinner rush to inform some server or another that they were using too many napkins.

Valid point, stupid timing. Could be the slogan for restaurant GM’s.

But for us, all of whom had been interrogated at one point or another about the Curious Incident Of The Cheese And The Nighttime, it was just that much more hysterical. I mean, really, a dancing PIZZA?

For the next several weeks, during the start of the dinner rush, well before the drivers were needed to shlep pizzas back and forth, the delivery drivers would take turns putting on the pizza suit and running through the dining room. I’m fairly certain that in this manner, many children were suitably traumatized. But it never failed to make us laugh: this a stupid, corny costume.

Once in awhile, Phil would convince one of the poor line cooks (poor as in the take-pity-on-him not in the broke-as-a-joke way.) during a slow lunch shift to go to the nearby road to wave at passing cars. As far as I know, it never attracted a soul into the restaurant to drop some bucks, but 50 million marketing geniuses (genuii?) can’t be wrong. Can they?

One Friday night after work, Rick and I were sitting and counting our tips and having our shift drink together, and I was grumbling and grousing about how he always made more bank than I did. Little did we know that the opportunity of a life-time was about to be hatched.

I don’t know who suggested it thanks, in no small part, to my tall Jack-n-diet-coke, I can’t full take credit for it so instead I will simply say that we mutually came up with a brilliant plan. The following Thursday night, when I was off work but while Rick was working, we would meet up at the restaurant so that I could help him deliver his pizzas.

Rick would, we decided, dress up in the pizza costume and deliver the pizza to our unsuspecting victims as a slice of pizza. Because short of throwing Rick into a thong, his bulge hanging out for all the world to see, I couldn’t think of anything weirder than getting a pizza delivered by a slice of pizza.

So that’s just what we did. With my friend from school, Arlene, manning the video camera, we–acting as normally as possible of course–drove Rick’s route that night. He’d ring the doorbell and hand the pizza to the victim while I would help make change. Just like this was the most normal situation. Just a random Thursday night delivering pizzas dressed as a slice of pizza lah-dee-dah.

Acting like this was nothing out of the ordinary was harder than it no doubt sounds.

Arlene took some footage that I am certain would rival The Blair Witch Project for most nauseating camera work on an independent film. I would pay a lot of money to see that footage now, but I haven’t seen Arlene since I graduated college and have no idea where to find her.

Shockingly, not a single person commented on this. Not one soul acted as though anything was out of the ordinary. It was as though we were being Punk’d while we were trying to Punk others.

In our efforts to behave as normally as possible, it seems that the houses we hit were full of people for whom this is an everyday occurrence. Maybe they are always served hot dogs by people dressed as gigantic wieners, Chicago-style. Maybe every ice cream cone is hand scooped by a walking, talking milkshake. In a world where a sandwich is always made by a sandwich, we were mere players; costumed pawns in this parade of nameless, faceless food mascots.

I would totally live in that world, you know. So long as I could make the rest of my family wear sausage costumes.

Just so I never have to wear the Santa costume again.

59 thoughts on “Sometimes The Best Thing You Can Say About The Day Is, “Hey, At Least I Didn’t Have To Wear The Pizza Suit.”

  1. Those chickens are a road hazard! Tell me your mind is on the road when you are passing one.

    I guess Phil is the one who moved on to give the idea to Johnnie Rockets that all employees must stop working at the same time and break into a dance while 50’s music plays.

  2. Funny! Brings back fond (not so much) memories of being a terrible server who was ALWAYS being told to smile more when I was in full on “oh shit did I just get another table” mode.

    One small kvetch though, why the need to note that Cesar was Mexican when nobody else’s ethnic background was noted and it didn’t matter to the story?

      1. Ah, I see. Sorry, just a pet peeve of mine. Perhaps because I used to have a co-worker who constantly referred to my husband as “her husband, who is black” when it had nothing to do with whatever we were talking about. Pings my radar the wrong way, ya know?

        1. Oh, no, I get it. Cesar was ALWAYS talking about it. You couldn’t talk to him for 10 seconds without him bringing it up (in a good way) so it was a part of him in stories and sort of his legend. But I know EXACTLY what you mean and it wasn’t what I was getting at.

  3. Holy shit, Batman. That. Is. Awesome. I would have tipped double if a fucking pizza delivered my pizza!

    ‘Course, the only thing I can picture now is that scene from Accepted is Sherman standing in a hot dog suit, yelling “Ask me about my weiner!”

      1. Oh thank God above, I am NOT the only person who thought that part of the movie was hilarious. Of course, it would have even been more hilarious had he thrown in something absolutely irrlevant to the “ask me about my wiener” spiel like, I don’t know, “It isn’t really a wiener it’s a Polish sausage.” you know.

  4. Um, yeah I would rather die than be made to wear that. Long story short, when I was in NYC years ago pursuing acting I was signed with an agency that would send us out and one of those jobs that paid well was to wear some kind of animal costume and walk around Times Square and as broke as I was…I passed. Just couldn’t do it.

    Sadie at heyMamas

  5. I think I’m gonna send my husband to PICK UP a pizza dressed as a slice.

    I keep driving by this poor guy dressed up as lady Liberty (in seafoam green) holding a sign for Liberty Tax Service. Talk about a distraction. I’m trying to pull over to take his picture to put on my blog.

    1. Ack! We have those here too. And the oddest thing is that I can’t actually ever find the building in which Liberty Taxes is ensconced. And we live in a small town so it isn’t as if there are 43 buildings to choose from, right? Plus: they start at 7:00 am here, and are, ahem, working the corners until after dark, leaving me to wonder what ELSE Liberty Taxes might be offering. Or maybe that’s just me.

  6. Full of the awesome! Restaurant work should be a college course. You just haven’t lived a full life until you have done it. Drove by a taco who had a guy circling him in a sombrero the other day, my daughter started cackling and said, “If there is a god, he will let that taco punch that guy before we get too far to see it” bwahahaha No idea where she gets these evil little thoughts………

  7. Ha ha ha ha!! This reminds me of the time that a friend and I painted our faces -I was a tiger and she was a bunny- for no particular reason and went out, at my insistence, to find some kids to cheer up. We couldn’t find any so I dragged her to Kmart. The looks, or rather the lack thereof, were hilarious. I actually heard one lady whisper something to the effect of “No, honey. Don’t look at them.” when her little girl pointed us out. My friend was MORTIFIED that I made her go out in public like that! I thought it was great fun! 😀

  8. This is hilarious – I completely relate b/c that’a the same sort of stuff we would do when I was a waitress (okay, maybe not the pizza costume thing but still…) We’d try to do the strangest things we could come up with for our own amusement. Kinda a la Super Troopers (Meow).

    1. Ahhh, yes. My friends and I who worked at a bar spent an entire summer stealing disposible lighters from drunk people. No idea why or who thought of it now. But whoever had the most lighters at the end of the night won $10, and we divvied them up between us. Because people steal lighters and OURS always went missing.

  9. That is awsome. I so wish that you and I were friends way back when. Wait, I mean just a couple of years ago. I waited tables when my son was little at a steak house. Fortunately no one had to dress up as a steak, but we sure had a lot of fun there. Although, not as much fun as you guys apparently.

  10. Right now our streets are riddled with poor schmucks dressed like the Statue of Liberty in a sad attempt to get you to use them to do your taxes.

    Um, how about no, you crazy dutch bastard!

  11. I dated a guy when I was in high school, who worked at Chuck E Cheese. Big guy. 6’4″ like 275, linebacker type. He normally worked the front counter, or in the back making pizzas.

    He decided that it would be good fun to go to work after dropping a hit of acid. The guy that was normally dressed as Chuck E Cheese called in sick, and my then boyfriend was nominated to wear the suit, on a Saturday, at Chuck E Cheese….needless to say he totally flipped clear the hell out, and ran out of there in the suit, almost trampling little kids trying to say Hi to the big mouse.

    He was fired. I’ve never been able to look at or hear a story about grown people dressed like this without thinking of the hulking, tripping mouse….

  12. We had a pepperoni thief in the pizza place I worked at. We had a set number of pieces that were allowed on each size pizza and they estimated how much was used from receipts and kept coming up short. So eventually, to narrow down the suspects, they made us shift managers COUNT EVERY SLICE OF PEPPERONI in the bin at the start of our shift, count any we added to the bin during the shift, count the number left at the end of the shift and then do the math for how many slices should have been used for the pizzas that were made and see what the total should have been. Then they correlated that to who was working that night looking for a pattern of pepperoni disappearance they could pin on a specific person.

    No one was ever charged with the pepperoni theft but we spent way more time than we should have counting how many slices of pepperoni were being put on the pizza (23 on a large, I still remember that 22 years later)

    Micromanagement taken to a whole new level

  13. I’m still stunned that no one was yelling, “C’mon kids, lemme snap a pic of you and the pizza!” Damn, you coulda charged! Birthday parties on weekends! (obese bachelorette parties…)

  14. I don’t see the humor in this. I dress up in a felt vagina costume every time I sit down to write a post for my blog. It’s inspiring.

    Are you trying to tell me there’s something wrong or funny about that?

    Side note: don’t ever buy the felt vagina that comes with piercings. They’re awfully distracting and the cat won’t leave me alone.

  15. I love War Stories about waitressing. I can’t believe not one person said anything. If you had come to MY house you can believe I would have asked to have a picture taken.

  16. My husband once had to (no really, we were very broke) as the Hamburger Helper hand. In a fire I would save those photos over our wedding pictures, hands down.

  17. At least it wasn’t the faux Statue of Liberty get-up for a tax office we have around here…godawful greenish and a massive head thingy with frightening spikes…looks nothing like a majestic crown, that’s for certain.

    If these food/costume people are ever hit by a car, who do they sue? Or does it even count since they’re technically “inadament?”

  18. We have a local chain, Dominoes, in our neighborhood. We also have Papa John’s, Papa Murphy’s and Pizza hut, all within a mile of each other. The Dominoes pizza got a costume, some character, not a piece of pizza. The woman who wore the costume brought her boombox and danced the afternoon away in that costume. That Dominoes is not the highest grossing Dominoes in the nation. And not by just a little bit but by leaps and bounds. Now all the pizza places have someone outside in a costume or holding a sign. My son went to work at another pizza place this summer. He loves holding the sign, he stands there all day, holding his sign and listening to his iPod and texting his friends.

    1. Dominoes, Papa Johns, nor Pizza Hut is not pizza. Totinos pizza rolls keep it more real than the three of them.

      Thank you very much…

  19. I tried to get my boyfriend to dress up as a piece of pizza at work, for Halloween, one year.

    You’d have thought I’d thrown his cat out the window by the look he gave me.

  20. MY best friend made a large AwfulAwful (what the local creamery calls their milkshakes… it means Awful Big, Awful Good, don’t get me started) costume for Halloween in High School, then wore it on the street corner outside the creamery when she worked there for a whole summer. She did this willingly and even with glee. I was not surprised when she later studied musical theater.

    And I know you’ve seen the movie “Waiting,” no? Perfect for those of us who slung beers (or pizzas) for a living.

  21. HA! This reminded me of a time I had forgotten when I dressed up in a big dog costume. It was definitely an experience.

    I really wish the people who delivered my food would dress up as the food. I’d tip extra.

  22. The best thing would have been if the one delivering pizza, dressed as pizza, waited outside the front door for a bit and right when the person was taking a bite screamed “STOP EATING MY BROTHER”

    No? Maybe just funny to me.

    And it is now custom for line cooks (instead of always talking about how they are Mexican) to say “Hola Mami, you speak Spanish? aaah Why not?”

    The joys of working in a restaurant…

  23. Picture it. 1983. A new store opens down the street from my office. As I ride the bus home that evening, I spy a poor, dear, sweet individual dressed as a giant green M&M standing on the corner trying to draw attention to the new place.

    Two young women were seated behind me. One saw the M&M. One didn’t. Immediately after we turned a corner and the M&M was no longer visible from inside the bus.

    “OMG! Did you see that giant green M&M standing on the corner back there?”

    “No. What HAVE you been smoking?”

    Hilarity ensued.

  24. I just about peed myself reading this story. Having worked in a Italian resturant 5 years (I was a sucker for punishment I guess) I remember those Phil managers. Thankfully at one point we had 2 or 3 managers who were like Cesar and I know they would have made a few people dress up in a bowl of pasta just to take pictures and generally humilate them in front of everyone else. Of course I knew a few people who would have loved to get into that costume and dance around the resturant and outside just for shits and giggles too.

  25. ….Just had to come back to tell you thanks again for the line about Amelia breaking the bones of her foes and sucking down the marrow……….cause Joey’s neurologist just called and they want to do an MRI (which he has metal in his leg and I don’t understand how he can have an MRI with metal inside his leg) because they think he might have either an optic giloma or a brain tumor………….Thinking of Joey breaking bones and sucking down marrow right now helps me………..(I’ll probably blog about it later……much later)

    He needs prayers

    1. Oh Rebecca. Damn. That kills me to read that. I’m sending all my love and prayers okay? Joey is gonna rock the suburbs JUST like my Mimi. Breaking bones and sucking down the marrow for kicks, okay? HANG IN THERE. Sending you love.

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