“Sam, quit fuckin’ around and take this delivery, will ya? It’s been on top of the oven for 10 minutes now!” George, my boss, yelled to me from the sweaty, closet-sized kitchen as he ladled marinara sauce.
I loaded the order into the passenger seat of my dented 2001 Civic, the smell of grease and garlic consuming the car before I was able to reach the driver’s seat.
I had taken the delivery job with excitement when I was 17 and still in high school. Back then, it was freeing. Now, almost three years later, I was in my second year of college- and sick of the minimum-wage job, and the lingering stench in my car.
I wasn’t having a good night with tips, and at $ 5 an hour, tips are everything. The last thing I wanted to do was drive over 10 minutes to the outskirts of town for a single delivery.
Driving slowly to check the house numbers, I muttered, “Fuck George, fuck this job, and fuck this delivery.”
I clicked my car into park and re-checked the ticket. 46 River Road. Yup, this is it. The ticket had instructions to “Go through the porch door,” so I let myself in. “Pizza!” I announced.
“Come on in,” a man’s voice said from a few feet away. I cautiously rounded the corner. The largest human I’d ever seen was sitting on what I assumed was a couch. I could swear I once saw him being crane-lifted out of his home during a LifeTime Network special.
“Can you take the food out and put it on there?” He gestured toward the table in front of him.
I awkwardly made small talk while I removed his food from the brown bags. First, the chicken parmigiana dinner. Then the salad. Then garlic bread, and the two-liter of soda, I arranged everything right down to his condiments and silverware. I could tell he was grateful.
“$34,” I said, smiling the sort of nervous smile you give someone who is speaking a language you don’t understand. He handed me a folded wad of money. I shoved it into my pocket without counting it.
Back at the store, I leaned on the counter and took the wad of money and crumpled receipt out of my pocket. There were four folded $20 bills. “Holy Shit!” I said.
“What?’ George asked without turning his head.
“The guy from the last delivery. He gave me a $46 tip!” Something like this had never happened to me in over three years of relentless doorbell ringing.
George turned around for the first time in the conversation and smiled at me.
“Must be your lucky day.”
“Yeah,” I said, but all I could think about was the man at 46 River Road.