I need to preface this post by saying that I love British people but this country has the tendency to make me say, “Dude, what the fuck?!” I also need to say that the reason I feel this way is mostly because I’m completely out of my element in a different country and being unfamiliar with something usually means you’re uncomfortable with it as well. Kind of like going in for your first prostate exam.
I’m not comparing living here to a finger in the ass but hey, if the shoe fits. Anyway, it’s safe to say that if the roles were reversed and we plopped some Brit in the middle of Kansas, he would likely share the same sentiment.
So, just last night I finally got over my fear of ordering pizza from the Papa John’s in Peterborough. I usually don’t have reservations when it comes to food that makes my soul rejoice but when I feel like my life is in danger, sometimes my appetite just has to get in the back seat and shut the fuck up.
Living in England has its ups and downs. Mostly downs. No offense to the Brits reading this but I think I know why the pilgrims were like, “Whoa, fuck that place.”
One of the biggest downs is the fact that the English are known for two things: Terrible customer service and terrible food. Often times in England we experience culinary abominations in which the two converge to make dining out risky at best. Now, the food isn’t terrible in the “that food gave me mouth AIDS” way, but more like “that food tastes a bit AIDS-y.” Although considering their customer service track record I could totally see a restaurant employee over here being like, “Hmmm, that food smells like AIDS. Ah fuck it, AIDS never hurt nobody.”
Well, sometime last year I got lost in Peterborough. While trying to find my way back to the city center, I stumbled upon the Arab equivalent of Chinatown. This was the first time I’d seen this many Arabs in one place since I left Iraq and judging by their traditional Islamic clothing it’s safe to say that most of that population was Muslim as well.
Now, the vast majority of Muslims are very good people but I have a really hard time discerning the good ones from the ones who want to turn me into pink mist which makes me cautious of them all. Having spent more than a year in a middle-eastern combat zone dodging mortars and being shot at, I found myself swerving around potholes and doing 5 and 25s at stoplights. I’m being a bit hyperbolic but this place looked almost exactly like Ramadi and I was actually getting nervous. The fact that I was driving a left-hand drive car didn’t really help either.
How can you tell which one is the terrorist?
I know, I can’t tell either.
As luck would have it, In the middle of Ramadi, England I stumbled upon the greatest pizza place in the history of ever – Papa John’s. Now, if you’ve ever lived outside the US you know magical it is when you discover little pieces of America in a foreign country – Nearly as exciting as a double rainbow.
So I’ve known about this place for about a year now but I’ve only eaten there a couple of times. Each time I went there I just walked into the place and ordered it right there and I watched them make it as a deterrent to them waging holy war on my pizza. I know it sounds crazy but I get nervous around Muslims; I know way too much about Islam not to.
Yeah, I said it.
As I said before, each time I had ordered food there I waited for them to make it while I stood there watching. Being hungry and having a mild case of ADHD does not make this pleasant. Not wanting to wait this time, I decided to take my chances and order over the phone for carry out.
Still scared of dying from pizza poisoning, I was trying to think of how I would make this phone call. A couple approaches leapt to mind: I could either hide my American accent by faking a British accent but that would be about as believable as a Sprint customer service rep named “John” who lives in “New Jersey” but for some reason can't correctly pronounce words that end in 'tle.'
Or I could just be REALLY REALLY nice.
Or I could just be REALLY REALLY nice.
Now I HATE it when people are overly nice, instead of encouraging reciprocity like it should it makes me angry and want to kick them in the sphincter. I commend courtesy but when you take it over the top I start to feel like I’m being patronized.
But other people are receptive to it.
So that’s what I went with. When I called I was trying to be the “hey, please don’t jihad my pizza” nice, but it ended up sounding like I wanted to bone him. Totally not what I was going for but for the sake of self-preservation it was completely acceptable.
Picking it up it was kinda awkward but I guess I did something right.