Friday, 12 November 2010

Pizza-Poor Performance

You won't know because none of you read about it, but Emma and I went to the cinema the other night. I mention this because prior to the film, we took the outlandish leap of faith that is a visit to Pizza Hut.

We don't seem to have much luck in that place. I recall an episode some years ago when we almost missed our film, so long did it take the service staff to fulfill their highly complex duties. We ended up leaving the premises with a boxed up pizza which, when you get it home, never looks as appetising and leaves you wishing you had passed on the whole thing and gone straight home to order one in. I can't remember which film it was, but the experience ruined it. Probably.

This time they surpassed themselves. Our film began at 7.30pm. We both work in Liverpool so even allowing for the drive home in the currently gridlocked traffic jams around The Royal, we still had plenty of time. Emma finishes work at 5.00 and has a short walk of less than five minutes to the University where I work and where we park the car. We were back in St.Helens for 6.00.

So on arrival at the serial offender of a restaurant our first problem was not time. It was the cold. It is the middle of November, and so to be greeted by a notice telling us that the premises might be 'a bit cool' due to a problem with the air condiditioning was not ideal. Describing the temperature in there as 'a bit cool' is a bit like describing Wayne Rooney as 'a bit greedy'. If there is anything it was not, it is cool. It was very uncool. Freezing is a better word.

Undeterred we allowed Cathy the waitress to show us to a seat (cue gags about me bringing my own). Foolishly we took our coats off briefly, before having an even more brief moment of indecision. Should we make a run for the warmer climes of Wetherspoons now while we still could? By then, laziness had set in and we stayed put, stubbornly freezing half to death like extras in Titanic. The coats went back on and we ordered. Cathy seemed nice and helpful, but the relationship was about to go sour very quickly.

Occasionally, and especially in such frugal times, fat-cat companies like Pizza Hut like to tempt you with offers. Forgetting that you never get anything for nothing we took the bait. Two courses for £8. We'd share a starter, have our own individual pizzas and then share a dessert. I eat like a caterpillar and Emma may or may not be on a diet this week, so it seemed more than enough for us. And it would have been, had it worked out that way.

Fighting the formation of icicles around our extremities we otherwise happily began and everything was fine. We finished the starter, but it was some time before Cathy could arrange for the pizzas to make an appearance. Yet still we were not really clock-watching. We'd given ourselves 90 minutes to have a pizza, remember. Time passed, and passed, and passed. Then the pizzas arrived. By when it was around 6.40 and things were getting a bit tight. And things were beginning to get frozen too.

I eat pizza slowly. I'd imagine a caterpillar would take a long time to get through a Hawaiian all to himself, and I did. Yet by 7.00 I was done and dusted. Still 30 minutes to get through dessert. Easy, right? Cathy could make us four desserts in that time. Wrong. Again the clocked ticked by and the realisation sunk in that, like the Titanic extras, we were not about to be rescued. It was 7.25 by the time Cathy emerged from the kitchen all smiles and 'what's the problem?', dessert in hand. Emma explained that we didn't have time for dessert, and to be fair they knocked £3 off the bill. But it's not about the money. I'd rather pay and have good service than get crapped on for free.

As I mentioned this is not the first time we've had problems at Pizza Hut. I can now also recall an occasion when myself and my work colleagues visited the branch in Liverpool One. We were offered pizza and garlic bread for £4, and quickly found out why it was so cheap. The pizza was straight out of the freezer from Iceland across the concourse, and one colleague is still mocked for having a slice of pizza missing from his plate. He's always been once slice short, but elsewhere there were furious complaints and one or two justifiable refusals to part with a hard earned £4.

Food could be the death of me. On the way home from work today Emma reminded me of an occasion a couple of weeks ago when an entire crate of food fell off the back of a lorry in front of us on Edge Lane Drive. It was early in the morning on the way to work. The truck's doors inexplicably flung open and it unloaded, missing us by a matter of feet. I could see boxes of cornflakes amongst other things hurtling towards us.

Emma seems to think we have cheated death but so far I've just shrugged it off. But should I? It was a heavy vehicle carrying a heavy load, so maybe she's right. It's all a bit like that scene in Pulp Fiction when Travolta and Jackson are sprayed with bullets by a gunman bursting in from the next room. Only all of the bullets miss. Jackson thinks it's a miracle and just wants Travolta to 'fucking acknowledge it'. Travolta shrugs, no big deal.

Anyway, I told Emma that things falling off the backs of lorries in Liverpool was not a freak occurence by any means. It's an industry to them.

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