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Roe v. Wade v. Pizza

In an earlier newsletter I mentioned a connection between Roe v. Wade and pizza. Here is my story.

When I was in high school, I had a job at a certain fast food pizza delivery service that may or may not rhyme with “Schominos.” My wage was $3 an hour. I was rolling in it! I was seventeen, and I really wanted to be a delivery driver. My license was fresh and, in my (highly elevated teenage) opinion, I was an excellent driver. I knew the town and how to navigate all the tricky backroads. Plus, who wants to stay in a stuffy room when one could be out in the world? Let me in on this!

However, I wasn’t allowed to be a driver. That was left to the guys. The reason? It simply “wasn’t safe” for “a girl” to be a driver. Why? Because it was too dangerous. What if I got raped? That is what my manager told me. Now, was this a company-wide policy or simply this one man’s opinion? I’m not sure – I was young and didn’t know to ask these questions. What I did know was that I was stuck inside making pizzas while my male coworkers got to leave for hours at a time, earning tips that they did not share!

Yes, only the males were allowed to be drivers and they did not share money! Funny because I was the one making the pizzas and I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t be tipped as well if they were showing up with boxes of air. Did you ever think about that, Brad?! (No. He did not. He used to like to wave his sweaty dollar bills in my face. Brad was filthy animal.)

Needless to say, I was not very impressed with this policy. Also, it had a ton of holes. So, I can’t drive somewhere and drop off a pizza, but I CAN be left alone with wads of cash and a thin layer of plexiglass for protection? Because I couldn’t possibly be raped – or held up – in a building? (What about getting held up with a gun at the store? But don’t worry about that. Gun violence – LOL, right America?!)

Please note that the policy that excluded me from driving because of my gender that also directly affected my wages was stated as fact. The “It’s dangerous out there!” theory was merely followed by a shoulder shrug. Never once did the conversation turn to the fact that this was extremely messed up and perhaps we should shift our focus to educating men on how not to sexually assault women who show up on their doorsteps with food. Just me? Apparently.

While we’re here, I’d like to humble brag. Personally, when I order food, I am able to restrain myself from sexually assaulting the delivery driver. In fact, I am able to smile, open the door, make polite small talk, give a tip, and take my food – ALL WITHOUT FORCIBLY TOUCHING SOMEONE’S GENITALS. (This was “before times” when you actually opened the door and interacted with someone when something was delivered. But, even in our now socially distanced society, I like to think I’m still able to refrain from raping someone who shows up on my doorstep. Or really anywhere. Just one of the many things I am proud of in my life.)

At one point I did broach a few of these points with my manager. He responded by flirting with me. I did not find this very amusing, but I smiled and nodded because I wanted to keep my job. Let me tell you, $3 an hour was a lot of money in 1988 and I had college to save for! Was it enough money to make it worth being harassed by a freaking grown-ass adult who thought it was okay to flirt with a teenager? NO. But I hung in there because I was a child and I didn’t know how the world worked yet. It felt wrong. But nobody was talking about those things then. Another story for another time. Yay!

I finally graduated and was off to college. Was I relieved to leave that job? Yes, yes, I was! Oh, but wait. Did I still need to work? Yes, I did. Guess where I went? Yep, same company, different town. They accepted me as a transfer employee. And I accepted the fact that I was too lazy to look for a job elsewhere. We were a perfect match!

Here I was still not allowed to be a driver, but I didn’t care. I was busy. I wanted to be on campus. Walking and biking were more my speed at that point. I had more homework than ever to distract me. Plus, I had parties to go to that did not involve asking parental permission to attend. I was my own woman!

Things were great. I was even offered a promotion after I washed all the pan pizza containers! I guess no one at this location had done that before. Per the manager of that branch, via his own words. The conversation:

“Oh, wow! You washed all the pans. No one has done that before.”
Me, “You mean… wash dishes?”
Him, “Yeah. The pans have never been washed. I didn’t know you could do that! Do you want to be the manager?”
Me, “Um, wow. Well, thank you. I’m honored. But I have school.”

I was so confused – and terrified – as to why the pans had never been cleaned before. Was he hoping the grease from all those pizzas were acting as some kind of seasoning? It’s been decades and I still think about this.

It wasn’t great, but it was a paycheck and I soldiered on. Then the breaking point finally (finally!) came. One day a friend of mine came careening into our store. (This was when people told each other things in person, before email or cellphones, if you can imagine it.) She slammed her hands down on the counter and said, “The CEO of this company just came out as pro-life! It’s all over the news.”

And that was it for me. That was my limit. The wage theft. The sexism. The disturbing lack of dishwashing. I’d been able to surf it all. But knowing I was working under a man who supported taking away women’s rights over their own bodies? It broke me. Hell to the no, dude.

“Fuck this!” I exclaimed as I threw down my apron. I walked out the door with my friend and never looked back.

Sometimes taking a stand looks different than you’d expect. But as long as you take one, that is what matters. Also, spend your money on good pizza – life is too short! Xo


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