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Doghouse Artichokes

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I spent a year delivering pizzas for a high-end pizza place in greater Seattle area, almost a decade ago. My area included a lot of rich homes for Microsoft developers, so I saw a lot of strange, silly, and uncomfortable things in my time. From a guy who saved enough bread sticks boxes to make a literal fort in his living room to a friendly guy who would give me a bigger tip if I watched him do a line of blow. But I think the best story is about the Doghouse Artichokes.

I'm delivering a single large pie to a house along the waterfront. Hadn't been to this one yet, but the order ticket suggests they order a couple times a month. I get to the door, ring the bell, and a guy comes out looking like a shorter Ray Ramano. The usual policy is to open the box, verify the ingredients, and ask if they need anything else. But Ray is clearly going through.. something. His eyes are red, he's breathing a hard, and he's staring at the pizza box like it might contain a bomb. I figure he's tripping or something, so I go real gentle. "Let me open up the box and make sure everything is on there correctly, OK?" He nods, eyes locked on the box, unblinking.

I lift the lid of the box, and Ray almost collapses. Like someone kicked him in the soul. "FUCK man, there's artichokes!" Uh-oh. I'm panicked, our kitchen doesn't fuck up orders like that hardly ever. I look at the ticket, and artichokes were definitely part of the order.

"I'm sorry, it looks like artichokes were included in the order. But I can-"

"No, man. Those are doghouse artichokes."

I've never heard the term, so I just kinda give a questioning look.

"My girl and I are fighting, and she stormed off to her room upstairs a couple hours ago. Usually, if I just give her space, she calms down, and she'll order a pizza so that we can eat before we try talking again. But if she's really mad, like if I did something really dumb, she'll order a pizza with artichokes on it. I'm allergic to artichokes. Those are doghouse artichokes! That means I'm sleeping on the couch tonight, man."

Throughout the year, I'd get occasional orders to that address, and I'd always check the ticket to see if there were any doghouse artichokes. Usually there weren't, but it did happen one more time. I took the opportunity to order a small pepperoni pizza for myself as soon as I saw the ticket, and explained doghouse artichokes to my boss. I went out to deliver, Ray opens the door. I show him the artichokes and say "Sorry, dude".

He gets that same defeated look. "Damn. I didn't even deserve it this time."

Then I reach into the delivery bag, pull out the bonus pizza, and hand it to him. "Even dogs have to eat though." His face lit up like Christmas. I got a $20 tip for that.

Anyways, I was just reminded of that story recently, realized I'd never written it down, and wanted to share. I'd love to hear your stories from delivery work!

Complicated Reality

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