December 31, 2007
4:00 pm - I am at work. There are 10 more drivers at work, because it is New Year's Eve. New Year's Eve is like Christmas for Pizza Guy. People are generous, everyone orders, Pizza Guy makes lots of money, it's good. I worked until close last year, and rang in the new year in some family's foyer while mom wrote a check and her kids dug into the pizza, ignoring the ball drop on TV. The money was okay, but I would rather have a life. I am determined not to repeat it this year. I told the boss a few weeks ago that I didn't want to work the closing shift this year. He scheduled me through 10:00.
4:30 pm - No one is calling. I know why no one is calling: It's 4:30 pm. People don't order dinner at 4:30 pm. Especially on New Year's Eve. People will order later. Eleven drivers stand around doing nothing.
5:30 pm - I take my first delivery. There are lots of drivers and not a lot of people in need of drivers. I am not going to make any money.
7:00 pm - The managers start to send other drivers home. I try to decide where I will go after work.
9:45 pm - All of the drivers are gone except me and the two closers. There has been a small rush, but nothing special. I hope the real rush will not come. I have taken four deliveries.
10:00 pm - The real rush comes. There are three drivers and two managers. I will not leave at ten. I tell myself I will be able to leave at 10:30. The snow is falling and the roads are getting covered.
10:30 pm - Still busy. I tell myself I will be able to leave at 11.
11:00 pm - Even busier. I might not make it. Now, the battery light icon on the dash turns on.
11:30 pm - Still busy. Three drivers. 11 deliveries on the screen. Battery light still on. Going to spend another new year with Papa John, and I am not happy. In fact, I am angry. I stew. But I don't know who to blame for this. The managers, the customers, myself, no one really fits the blame. I want to blame the customers.
11:45 pm - I leave the store with a triple. One of which is a free order, usually a remake for a mistake. I choose to go to him last, he won't tip. I try to find a radio station that will tell me when the ball drops, to make it official. None of them seem to be up for it, but that's okay. It's just a stupid ball.
11:59 pm - I am on 28th Street. Paul calls me.
January 1, 2008
12:00 am - I hear the people in the background on the phone count it down, and I am alone in my car, even though I planned it so I wouldn't be. Paul asks me if I'm coming. I tell him I'm delivering a pizza. I use another word, too.
12:02 am - I knock on another person's door. I'm not wearing my unhappy-ness very well, she tips me $2. I leave and decide I don't like the next guy, the guy with the screwed up pizza. I decide he's a slacker who asked us to leave the onions off his pizza, but we put them on there anyway. I decide he's going to be a stingy post-college drunk with a messy apartment, and that he's going to lay into me for being late. I work out my defense. I'm going to tell him I'm not having a good night, that I don't want to be here and he shouldn't complain.
12:10 am - I get to his house, an hour or more after he ordered. He's smiling, thanks me for the pizza, gives me a buck even though he doesn't have to. He tells me to have a good 2008. I am speechless. A buck seems like a lot.
12:20 am - I get back to the store, I've taken 19 deliveries. They're closed now, no more orders. They cash me out and I have made 82 dollars. $82! That's a lot. I go to Bethany and Jon's, I tell Paul I'll go to his place too.
12:39 am - I get to Jon and Bethany's. I eat some cookies, have a can of diet squirt. I catch up with a few friends. I beat Jon at Evenflow on Guitar Hero III. He played the hard setting, though.
1:10 am - I leave Jon and Bethany's, I tell Paul I'm coming. He says they're still there. The battery light icon is still on.
1:19 am - On Chicago Drive, my lights flicker and dim, the radio fades out. The car starts to lurch. The car has lost its electricity. I coast as far down Chicago Drive as I can, because I know I will have to walk. I call Paul and tell him I won't make it. He tells me it's my alternator, which I replaced (yes, I replaced it) in the Spring. He offers me a ride, but I decide I'm close enough that walking is just as fast as it would be for him to get there. I lurch over to the side of the road and sit in the quiet as the snow falls around me.
1:21 am - I get out, watch a few cars go by, and feel sorry for myself. I am a lone guy on the side of the road. I wouldn't help me if I was them, honestly. So I forgive them. A few of them slow, none of them stop. I watch three more go by, I stare them down. Then I walk. Down the hill, through the snow, across the railroad tracks, up the embankment, down it, and into the quiet streets of suburbia. I run a block, but decide that's not going to last. On the mile walk home, someone heckles me. I decide he doesn't know what tonight has been like for me. I decide to forgive him, too. I walk the mile home through four inches of unplowed, freshly fallen snow. I am wheezing from my asthma, my left knee is hurting inexplicably, and my socks are wet. The snow falls into my ears, and it tingles. I call my sister to see if she is at home, awake. She's somewhere else, wants to help, but is too far away. I tell her not to bother. I will have to wake up dad.
1:43 am - I get home, I wake up dad. He tells me he'll help. He doesn't really give himself a choice. I brush off his car and wait.
2:02 am - Dad finally emerges. I wonder what has taken so long, but I realize he's down one shoulder after his surgery. He changed all his clothes, put on boots and a jacket. In a middle-of-the-night fog, no less. I forgive him, too.
2:10 am - We jump my car. More people drive by, really fast, I worry about them. It's cold and my socks are wet and i want to be in bed. I tell dad I'll follow him in my car. He says No, he'll follow me. He's wise.
2:12 am - My car dies around the corner on my street. We jump it again.
2:15 am - My car dies, sitting halfway in the driveway and halfway in the street. Dad pulls in, we jump it again for the final twenty feet.
2:20 am - Mom is waiting inside, watching. She tells me that this is what family does for each other. I am thankful for my family. They don't have the whole story yet.
2:30 am - I am in my room, and I want pity so I blog about this. My socks are wet, and I scratch open a scab on my hand. It bleeds all over the place. I realize that I never ate dinner today.