A pizza delivery guy on 9/11

A look back at what I was writing about 20 years ago.

I’ve been blogging since well before people called it “blogging”; my first blog worked by writing posts in Notepad, marking them up with HTML, and then dropping them into a folder on the server using Telnet. Today, none of my posts before 2015 are available online; but I still have the archives sitting on my hard drive. So this morning, I decided to see what I had to say twenty years ago about 9/11.

Turns out: not much! Because back then, I was working as a pizza delivery guy for Dominos. And when I wasn’t writing about dating or getting drunk on the weekends, I was mostly writing about work.

I thought I’d share what I was writing back then to give some perspective on everything else circulating in the media today. 9/11 was a tragedy with profound domestic and geopolitical consequences that are still with us. If you were a worker who lived in Afghanistan, or Iraq, or other battlegrounds like Yemen, the aftermath was often deadly. If you were a worker in the US, however, the controversies over government surveillance, TSA pat-downs, and so on were fairly low on your list of concerns. When I worked at Domino’s, I was mostly worried about whether my boss was in a good mood, whether I would get enough hours and good tips this week, whether my car would hold up until I could afford some new tires.

Socialists have to bear this in mind and avoid getting sucked into the obsessions of elite journalists and politicians, even amidst the hysteria of events like 9/11. Fight militarism, and fight for better material conditions for workers — food, housing, healthcare, and so on. If you don’t, no one else will.

September 12, 2001

Bill is twenty-five, and is rumored to have graduated with honors. But he makes pizza for a living. He works with me at Dominos and uses it as an opportunity to tour the country. If he wants to live in Chicago, he calls corporate and asks them if he can transfer to Chicago. He has lived in eighteen different cities, already. Or nineteen. If pressed he has difficulty recalling exactly where.

For all of his travelling, Bill is still very young. He talks very loudly, and sometimes waves his arms. Sometimes he comes into work hungover, and either collapses on two precariously propped wheeled chairs in the office, or rampages through the kitchen angrily, shouting at things that don't exist. He spends a lot of his money on alcohol, video games and snowboard equipment. He tells stories that are supposed to be self-flattering, and probably exaggerated if true at all; and he tells them many times, to as many people as haven't heard them yet. Sometimes they aren't even very flattering, like the story about the fifty year old woman who tried to pick him up in a bar. Punchline: you're old enough to be my mother. I thought he handled the pretend situation, even if it was not pretend, rather ungracefully. He seemed to take some pride in being harsh with a lonely old woman.

He probably takes some pride in being harsh with the employees. Yesterday when things had slowed down, he asked me if I would give him an honest answer to an honest question. I said maybe. He asked me if he was an asshole. I couldn't bring myself to say yes, and later on I was glad that I didn't. I said no, you're just a little loud, maybe that comes across the wrong way to some people, why are you asking. He said he'd just had some problems with someone else, it wasn't anything to be concerned about. Before I left to deliver a pizza, Becca asked me to stop by an apartment and pick up some money one of my coworkers had forgotten to turn in afte rhis deliveries. She said don't get into a conversation with him about it, just get in and out of there. Bill said it would be funny if I wore his nametag when I went on my run, but wouldn't explain why. Becca wouldn't let me. Later that night I'd found out that Bill had apparently hit this guy, and the guy had said some angry things and drove home without clocking out or returning any of his money. His mom was thinking about pressing charges.

The first night I worked delivering pizzas, I was sitting in the back watching drivers go on their runs when I overheard a conversation. Bill was outside with Becca, smoking. Bill asked Becca is he could ask her an honest question. She said okay. Bill asked her if she thought he got along with people very well. Becca didn't know how to respond. Then Bill asked what she thought he could do to be a better person. Neither said anything for a very long time. It's weird that you ask questions like that, Becca finally said.