For a brief moment this past Sunday, I found myself considering the possibility that I might die an incredibly unceremonious death…at Domino’s Pizza.
Let me explain, because I know a lot of yall are looking like this, right now:
Prior to being required to think about whether my last breath on this earth would smell like garlic butter and/or marinara sauce, I’d had an otherwise positive and uneventful day. After church, my social work mentee (who is a legend, ok; shoutout to M) came over to vent/wash clothes/potentially finesse her way into dinner, because undergrad probs. Shortly before she arrived, my informal mentee, S–who happened to be in the area, and hit me up–had stopped by. As the two of them are essentially the same human being–from mannerisms, to boisterousness, to a fresh fade as a hairstyle of choice–they were having the time of their lives, and I was third-wheeling/marveling at their twin-ness. Before M made a brief departure for a meeting on campus, the three of us decided on pizza for dinner once she returned.
There’s a Domino’s near my house, but the way living trap-adjacent is set up, delivery is limited. I learned that the hard way a couple years ago.
No more than 30 seconds after submitting an online order, I received a phone call informing me that “Unfortunately, ma’am, we do not deliver to any residence across the train tracks, once it gets dark outside.” After a delivery driver was robbed at gunpoint at one of the apartment complexes behind mine, the franchise owner channeled his inner Joanne the Scammer and said “That’s over, it’s cancelled” with regards to delivery after dark.
Over time, I’ve grown accustomed to delivery not being an option after a certain hour, though, so once we settled on what we wanted, I placed an order for carry-out. In a truly serendipitous moment, the online tracker informed me that the pizza was ready, at the same moment that M told me she was about to head back to my apartment for dinner. As I was on my way to pick up the food, I got what is possibly the weirdest phone call I’ve ever received.
“Hi, this is _____ from Domino’s Pizza. I’m calling to let you know that unfortunately, we cannot fulfill your pickup order right now, for security reasons.”
“Umm. Ok. You can’t fulfill my order right now. So what does that mean for my money right now?”
“Well the store will refund you. But for security reasons, we can’t allow you to pick up the order.”
“I…ok. What do you mean by security reasons?”
“Well, we just got robbed like 20 minutes ago.”
The quintessence of “Well, that escalated quickly,” right?
I got off the phone with Pizza Polly, and called S to let her know what was going on; I also let her know that I would be going up to the store anyway. I err on the side of conspiracy theorist, so while I was empathetic due to ol girl sounding shaken up on the phone, I also couldn’t let go of the feeling I was having, that all of this was an elaborate scam.
And so, in a departure from how I behave as a bae/potential bae, I pulled up unannounced.
[Completely expected] plot twist: It was 100% not a scam.
As I arrived, I spotted squad cars on the side streets near the building, with their flashing lights on. Additional cars pulled up at the same time as I did, dramatically screeching into parking spots like they were on a federal drug bust, and not responding to a pizza shop stickup.
The entire time, I’d remained on the phone with S, keeping her abreast. A voice of reason, she reminded me that it was “not that deep” and that we could find other food to get. I responded: “Honestly, f*ck all that. Because 1. they have my money, and 2. I’m too hangry for all this dramatic sh*t. Like…have the cops make sure I’m not also here to rob the place, and give me my damn pizza. Also, stay on the phone right quick.”
I want to keep it light in this post, so I won’t get into the myriad reasons I felt it necessary to have an auditory witness to my excessiveness. You can make your way over to “I’m Good Luv, Enjoy” for a refresher on the innocuous behaviors that can get you killed by the cops, when you’re Black.
I started walking up just as two responding officers went inside. The looks on the faces of everyone in the building, as I casually approached the door, were priceless. I’m certain at least one person muttered, with an astonished tone, “What in the hell is she doing?”
As I got closer, I anticipated one of two things happening:
- An officer coming out to let me know that I *thought* was going inside, but that wasn’t going to happen on tonight.
- An officer or employee hastily locking the front door, before shouting through the glass that no one was allowed to enter.
Neither occurred. Probably because folks were shocked; the blank stares I encountered as I came up to the counter, were innumerable. With S still on speaker, I put on my very best “white voice” before stating my plight: “Umm. Hi. I was called and informed that I could not pick up my order…as I was already almost here to pick up my order. So…I just want to get my order.” I knew that no amount of code switching can save the life of a Black person, though. Consequently, a fleeting thought of being perceived by the cops as “combative,” and therefore losing my life over a large pizza and some stuffed cheesy bread, crossed my mind.
Instead, someone’s angsty teenage daughter simply rolled her heavily-lined eyes before asking “Last name please?”
At the next register over, an employee who was clearly still frazzled, recounted his experience: “So he went to pay, right? But when the register opened, he pulled out a gun and was like ‘Give me everything in that bitch.'”
I’d felt somewhat insensitive about coming for my things amidst such a tumultuous time…until hearing Sheltered McSuburbs (shade, but no shade, because that was me once) putting on his very best/very ridiculous Blaccent to quote the perpetrator.
It was then that I noticed that many of the (overwhelmingly white) staff members were looking at me–a slightly hangry, but harmless, customer–as if I was about to spray the store up with an AK. Scanning the deer-in-headlights faces, I soon found myself in the same annoyed mood as the cashier with the excessive eyeliner.
Channeling her, I simply rolled my eyes, picked up my boxes, gave a dry “thanks,” and headed back to the crib. Once I was home M & S had an extended laugh at the lengths to which I went, because I was hangry. I let them roast me a little bit, before responding:
“Ok, but…the cops are there. No one is hurt. They will be good, fam. And so will this food. So let’s eat.”