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Day 31 & 32: Up and Down

What a wild ride this is turning out to be.

When I took the pizza job, my path seemed very clear: Go to work during the day. Go home. Eat dinner. If it’s pizza night, go deliver. If not, hang with girls. Go to sleep. Repeat.

Sounds monotonous when I read it to myself. I’m ok with monotony. Monotony is good. Monotony in a worthy task is productive and wholesome. It drowns out the world. It invites focus.

Well let’s all hold our breath, count to three and take a giant poop all over that notion.

Monotony. Pah, humbug.


You can relate.

Some people deal with the highs by celebrating with low behavior. Some deal with the lows by getting high. You can imagine which one of those two groups does so with pizza in the mix.

The weather was cold Friday night. I had my beanie and a zip-up on. Pies in hand, I pulled up to an apartment building. The address called for the next building over. But, as it happens, the next building over looked like an abandoned Church. The next building after that was a block away.

I pull out my cell phone and dial the customer. It rings once. Twice. Thrice. Four-ice. A young woman picks up.

“Hi, this is RI with that one pizza restaurant. I’m outside such-and-such apartment building and I’m having trouble.”

She directed me. She explains that she is in a strange apartment, kind of, where the door is funny on the wall by the thing and it’s odd. She doesn’t know why people did it, but they did and she doesn’t know why.

Mmmmmkay. That was weird.

I picked out enough from her explanation to know to walk around the building. I told her I was doing so.

“Yeah, my apartment isn’t part of the building itself, just a number on a door on the side,” she said.

I scan the side doors as I pass.

“Ah, on the side!” I said.

“On the back, sorry, on the back,” she said. “Do you see a white car or a red truck?”

I had just come around the back of the building and there were the vehicles. I came around a cellar door and there she was. I greeted her. She opened her screen door and let me in.

Two more people were there. One sat on the couch nearest me. He was a young man. Hispanic. Quiet. Big goofy smile. The other was a young gal on a couch near him. She was lying down. Same goofy smile. It was uncanny. The TV was on. Didn’t catch the show.

“Hi guys!” I said, digging out the pizzas from my pizza bag.

I got a tired, “Hey.”

“Y’all having a good night tonight?” I asked as my customer got her cash.

The pizza was out. I didn’t have to focus on it anymore. I paid more attention to the room.

If that room had a quota for the number of high people to have in it, and that quota was three, it was right on the money. The smell of marijuana was subtle but I caught it. My customer’s nonsensical explanation of her apartment started to make sense.

She answered my question first.

“Yep, just hungry!” she said.

“I bet!” I said. My answer was distracted. Professional. Canned. I handed her the pizza.

All three of them chuckled.

The chuckle struck me as odd. My canned responses never make people laugh.

I was driving away when it hit me. Oops! Amazewife and I had a good laugh about it later.

Those stoners and my many other customers contributed to the best two days I’ve ever had. Friday night I made $88. It was a new record. Today, Saturday, I made $99. A new record again. It was a very welcome relief. You can recall from previous entries that my attitude had been dropping. I reached an emotional low. It corresponded with a low tip count.

But wow. PR twice in a row. What an awesome weekend.

I came in the door today high. Not on weed. Silly people. I was high on the dollar count. Cash bills.  I was high on what they represented. Productivity.

My wife was making dinner. The one year old was eating something in her chair. The Husker Game was on. I told her how much we made. We high-fived. I took that opportunity to count the last few shift’s winnings. $353. I readied it for deposit and debt destruction. It was great.

I showered and got dressed. I came out to the dining area.

“Do we have enough to just transfer that amount to the credit card right now?” I asked.

“Yep,” she said. “You just got paid. You could even pay a little more I think.”

I logged on to the credit card website. I checked the balance. $750.

“How much did you say I could put on extra?”

“Uh, let me check,” she said. She leaned over to the computer. The mouse and keyboard clicked. “How much is the balance?”


She paused. “You can probably just pay it all.”

I chose the radial button that said, “pay the remaining balance” and hit submit.

Remaining balance: $0.

Having two great days of tips was awesome. My shift was the top of a hill for me. At least it was until I stuck the last arrow into the monster that was our credit card. That wasn’t a hilltop. It was a milestone. It was no perceive-it-after-you’ve-passed moment. This one was real. There was physical proof right in front of me. Three of our remaining debts had now been whittled down by one. We had crossed an important threshold. Real results were happening.

That was an up for me. It didn’t feel like it at the time. There is a part of me that still doesn’t feel it. That could be because I’m on a hill staring up a mountain.

That credit card? We killed it. Several months ago, the letters we got from the credit card company told us that minimum payments would have it paid off in ten years. Ten years.

We killed it in 6 weeks.

That is Gazelle Intense. That is Roe Intense. It was focused, concerted hard work and regimented spending and sacrifice. I had worked hard. I had cut through one of the ropes that holds us down, and I’m still sawing like crazy.

Now, the mountain. Meredith’s student loan is next. Then mine. Die, student loans. Die in ash and flame. Just don’t light up. That stuff makes you numb. And it smells bad.



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