There are times when I dream of a simple life on the prairie with a family, a horse, a dog, a fiddle and a house with a wood-burning stove. And this particular Friday night before Christmas was one of those times.
Daughter #2 had an annual Christmas slumber party with some old homeschooling friends, and that is what started it all. It would take an hour to drive her there and another hour to drive back. Daughter #1 had a clarinet audition the next day and so she would need to stay home and practice. A good friend of mine volunteered to watch daughter #3 and daughter #4 and since it would be dinner time, I volunteered to pick up some pizza and drop it off for dinner when I dropped off the girls. I ordered an extra two slices for daughter #1 to be dropped off on the way back — “Easy as pizza pie,” I think. I phoned in the pizza order, packed up daughters #2, 3 and 4 and set out into the bitter and black cold of night for the pizzeria.
“I’d like to pick up our pizza, please.”
“Sorry, no pizza here for that name.”
“But I ordered it,” I insisted.
The cashier was eyeing me with a suspicious look, as if convinced I had really ordered from another pizzeria right down the road.
“What’s your phone number? came his query, with the confident air that phone number records don’t lie.
After some research the pizza results were in. Like a judge slamming down a gavel, the cashier slammed down his hand and rendered the verdict: “The pizza was delivered to your home.” (This is the trouble with caller ID that carries a name and address. They can inadvertently deliver pizzas to your home without you even saying exactly where it is you live.)
Now I had information that led me to believe that this would be trouble. First of all daughter #1, who was at home, had no knowledge the pizza was ordered, and so she would be flustered. Second of all daughter #1 was penniless.
“Pay for it here,” came the unanimous response from all working personnel who had now gathered to ponder the problem.
“We’ll call the delivery boy on his cell phone, and tell him it’s paid for,” the confident cashier added with a smooth air.
Hoping the problem was solved, but having a sneaking suspicion it wasn’t, I paid for the pizza and headed for home.
I was greeted at the door by Daughter #1.
“Mom, why didn’t you tell me you ordered pizza?”
I explained to her that I didn’t order the pizza per se for her, and inquired as to the pizza’s locale, since it was nowhere to be seen.
“I asked him what I should do, Mom. I didn’t have any money. He said if I didn’t have any money then the pizza had to go back.”
Undaunted, I set off once again into the frigid dark of night back to the pizzeria.
I again ask the pizzeria cashier for our pizza. I receive a blank stare. It’s a busy Friday night before Christmas and the place is hopping. He looks for the pizza. He looks up. No pizza. He looks down. No pizza.
“We don’t have your pizza,” I am told.
“But I paid for it, and my daughter who was home said it was sent back to the pizzeria.”
“It’s not here yet,” they insist.
OK, I decide I need to wait for the pizza to surface. To bide some time, I drop off daughters #3 and 4 at my friend’s house, giving the girls instructions to pass on to my friend that a pizza “drop-off” will soon follow. I set off on the trek back to the pizzeria, with daughter #2. I might have gotten mad by now, were it not for the happy twinkling streets of lit houses and nativity scenes greeting us along the way.
I see the eyes roll upward as I enter the pizzeria door.
“Did the pizza come back yet?” I ask.
“The pizza I paid for that was delivered and then sent back for lack of payment. Didn’t the delivery boy bring it back yet?”
This sends the cashier hurrying to a less noisy spot in the back of the pizzeria to place a call presumably to the delivery boy’s cell phone. He emerges triumphant. The pizza was delivered. He’s sure of it.
“We contacted the driver and told him the pizza was paid for, and he delivered it.”
Thus I embark on a journey back home to pick up the pizza.
There I find both the lost pizza and dazed and confused daughter #1 ready to greet me.
“Mom, why did you get me a whole pie and two slices? Do you think I can eat a whole pie?”
I inform her that, despite her adolescent rapid growth and growing appetite, no, I do not think she can polish off an entire pie. I again tell her that the slices are for her, but the whole pizza is not, and as I head for the door, pizza in hand, the phone starts ringing. It’s my husband, calling from his cell phone, traveling home from a business trip in Boston. Daughter #1 had apparently been in some cell-phone communication with him about the pizza issue. He had attempted to resolve things by checking on the status with the pizzeria himself. But he couldn’t do that. While he was on the phone with them, their computer (which apparently kept a record of every pizza pie transaction) crashed. My husband calmly assures me that he will take care of the problem.
“Sweetheart, don’t worry about picking up the pizza… I told the pizzeria I’ll pick up the pizza on the way home.”
I hear some ominous static followed by a decisive “click.” The cell phone goes dead. As I head for the door, pizza in hand, I tell daughter #1 to try to get in touch with her father in case his cell phone resurrects itself, and appraise him of the status of the pizza.
Meanwhile daughter #2 is beginning to panic. She has a slumber party to get to after all. She doesn’t care much about the pizza because there will be pizza waiting for her there. She hasn’t seen these friends in a while. She wants to know if she is going to be late… I try to use this as a lesson.
“This is just a comedy of errors about which you can do nothing but laugh. It’s a situation that calls for patience.”
My preaching isn’t reaching her. All this is easy for me to say, she seems to be thinking. I’m not the pre-adolescent girl who is about to be late for and thus miss the best part of the best slumber party of the year.
I successfully drop the pizza off at my friend’s house, drop off daughter #2 at the slumber party, return to pick up daughters #3 and 4, and arrive home two hours later none the worse for wear. I am warmed by our home the minute I enter it. Not just the heat, but the welcoming warmth of the Christmas decorations: the Christmas nativity, the Advent candles and calendar, the house decorated with gold garland and velvety red bows. Peace comes to me as I count my blessings and prepare to settle in for a relaxing night. Whatever test this was of my patience, I am happy that God gave me the grace to survive it and most of all I am thankful the pizza ordeal is over. It is delightful to be home.
I am surprised to discover my husband arrived home just a few minutes before I did. I find him in the kitchen searching for something. Since he was expected home late from his business trip, I hadn’t thought to order pizza for him. Apparently our daughter had informed him that I had succeeded in picking up the pizza. She just neglected to tell him that there was no pizza for him. As I attempt to say hello, my beloved spouse greets me with these words: “Where’s the pizza sweetheart?”
[Originally published 2005]
© 2005 Mary Anne Moresco