April 24th, 2002.

The wrong pizza.

As anyone self-employed will tell you, there are times when you are flush and times when you have to tighten your belt and look after the pennies. If ever my design customers dropped me and I found myself a bit short of cash, I have another possibility to fall back on... Pizza!

You see my home phone number is very similar to a local pizza take out place. I get a fair number of calls from people ordering all sorts of pizzas. I probably don't get enough calls to open 'Simon's Pizza House', but I could perhaps offer to take the order for the actual pizza place on a commission basis. Well heck, when times get hard, you gotta do what you gotta do, right!

The problem is worst at the weekends. Drunk 'scouser lads' and 'ladettes' call me and slur something like "Can-I-ave-a-cheese.. cheese... cheese.... [long pause]... cheese and tomato one please mate. 23 Mountwood Drive... oh and hey, joodoo beer like?"

I used to tell them they had dialed the wrong number, sometimes I'd even give them the right number. But I have stopped doing this as the callers would usually just hang up on me without so much as a word of thanks.

Recently though I have invented a new way of amusing myself when I get such a call. If the person sounds drunk, stupid, or, as is common around these parts, both, I actually take their order. When asked how long it will be until I can deliver it I say something like "I can get to you on Wednesday at 8 PM, is that alright for you?". Other times I simply refuse to deliver the pizza because they live in a "high-risk area" and it's just too dangerous for me to send a driver there. This always gets them very angry indeed!

Sometimes I let them tell me what toppings they want only to inform them that "we don't have that", so they ask for another and I say "Nop, we don't have that either". They try another and get the same reply over and over again until they ask what toppings I actually do have, at which I simply say "Asparagus."

Once I sat at my computer and played the sound of a dog barking then shouted at 'the dog' to stop licking the bases. The girl on the other end of the phone didn't seem at all phased by this.

"Oh have you got a dog?" she asked.

"Yeah, but I hate the way it always licks the pizza bases and dribbles on the toppings we use too which is really annoying," I answer.

She just laughed and made some joke about how he wasn't being 'man's best friend'. Then she continued with her order with no evidence of any concern whatsoever.

At the risk of finding myself on the wrong end of a lawsuit, I have decided to share tonight's call with you. If you know Merseyside at all then you'll probably be able to imagine the very strong 'scouse' accent that the caller had.

9:38 PM. Phone rings.

Me : Simon Jones.

Caller : "Hang on mate... TIM!!!!!! OI TIM!!!!! TIM YA KNOB'ED, WHAT D'YA WANT FROM THE PIZZA PLACE!!!???"

Me : Hello?

Caller : "Hang on mate..... TIIIIMMMMM!!!!!"

Me : "Can you not shout in my ear please."

Caller : "Sorry mate... errrrrr, can I have a deep pan one with chicken and sweetcorn and errrr.... sweetcorn."

Me : "Double sweetcorn then?"

Caller : "What?"

Me : "Double sweetcorn then?"

Caller : "No mate, just single sweetcorn please."

Me : "So you just want one sweetcorn"

Caller : "Yeah"

Me : "Just one single sweetcorn?"

Caller : "Yeah... err, no, no. Like one lot of sweetcorns like."

Me : "Anything else"

Caller : "Chicken please"

Me : "Male or female"

Caller : "[Long pause]... Male or female? What???"

Me : "Do you want a Male or female chicken"

Caller : "What's the difference."

Me : "This is a pizza place mate, not a farm." (at this point I am nearly laughing out loud.)

Caller : "Err... [muffled voices and a pause] Females are probably fatter aren't they?"

Me : "Mine isn't"

Caller : "Oh, in that case I'll have a male one then mate. Funny that, I've never been asked that before. Hey, is one cheaper?"

Me : "No, the female one is just better looking"

Caller : Laughs Me : "Address" He gives me his address.

Me : "£61.90 then, cash only and no change. Ten minutes. Thank you for calling."

Caller : "What? Hang on... how much?"

Me : "£61.90 and we take cash only and no change."

Caller : "For a pizza?"

Me : "Yeah... you ordered the chicken, we have to get them in special from Ireland. They are Irish county chicken mate."

Caller : Click... Dial tone.

I'm not sure if these people get their Pizza ordered in the end, and as yet I haven't gotten a call from the actual Pizza place complaining that I am losing them business. Perhaps the solution would for me to change my number. That would be pretty straightforward, but then where's the fun in that.