Years ago, I had a friend in Aspen who was a very large man. He'd been an offensive lineman on his college's football team, and here in town he'd packed on a few more pounds through plenty of booze and unhealthy eating habits. (He has since shed roughly 100 pounds and now trains pilates instructors, but that's irrelevant to this story. This is about when he was still huge.)
His apartment, a tiny one-bedroom, was furnished almost exclusively with pizza boxes. He had a bed and a couch, but the coffee table, nightstand, end tables and most everything else were nothing more than stacks of old Domino's boxes piled high.
One might think that such an overt testament to a poor diet would be enough to make someone realize that maybe they're eating too much pizza, but such was not the case. In fact, my friend didn't have his "aha" moment until some time after the boxes had taken over his apartment when he went to answer the door after ordering another pie and found a new delivery guy standing there. The guy looked at my friend for a second, and then his eyes went wide in awe.
"You!" he said. "You're that guy. You're the guy who orders all the pizzas. They told me about you. Hold on, I have something for you."
The guy handed my friend his pizza, went to his car and came back with a medallion.
"They wanted me to give you this," he said, "for being such a good customer. It's kind of like our frequent-eaters club. That medallion's good for 15 percent off on all your orders."
And that's when it dawned on my friend that he might be eating too much pizza: when Domino's, to use a Vegas phrase that seems particularly apt, considered him a "whale."
That story has always stuck with me for a couple of reasons. First, I thought it was pretty cool of the Domino's employees to give my friend the discount. They didn't have to. It's not like he was going to stop ordering pizzas if they didn't. And second, I always thought my friend had pretty much set the bar when it came to eating a lot of pizza. I couldn't fathom how someone could do better than earning entree into Domino's frequent-eaters club.
As it turns out, however, I was kind of off on both points, as a story from last week illustrated. Apparently, you can eat a lot more pizza than my friend, and giving out medallions is far from the coolest thing Domino's employees do for their customers.
Here's the scoop: Kirk Alexander, a 48-year-old man from Salem, Oregon, is very well-known by the local Domino's employees because he reportedly gets pizzas just about every day and has been doing so since 2009. He orders online, and each day, according to one employee, when the order shows up, "We see it come across the screen and we're like, 'Oh, Kirk's order.'"
But then something happened. For a week there were no orders from Alexander, and when a manager checked the database, she saw that the last order had come in 11 days earlier, "which is not like him at all," the manager said.
Fearing something had happened to her "whale," the manager sent a driver to Alexander's house. Neighbors claimed that Alexander rarely ventured out, so when the driver saw that lights and a TV were on but she couldn't get someone to come answer the door, she called 911.
Police arrived on the scene to find Alexander in need of immediate medical attention. He evidently suffers from severe health problems and had taken a turn for the worse, meaning that the only reason he's alive today is because he eats so much pizza. Remember that the next time you're working on your fifth slice of the evening and some vegan snob tries to tell you pizza is bad for you.
As for the heroic Domino's employees, they merely shrugged off the praise.
"(Alexander) is an important customer that's part of our family here at Domino's," the manager said. "I think we were just doing our job checking in on someone we know who orders a lot."
It's heartwarming, isn't it? Seriously, I think that's awesome of those employees. Good for them. Now, if Domino's could just figure out how to make a decent pizza, their good deeds would almost be enough to get me to be a customer myself.
Please excuse Todd Hartley's pizza snobbiness. People who grew up in Connecticut are like that. To read more or leave a comment, please visit zerobudget.net.