Pizza and Perception

My wife and I are picky about our pizza. We treat pizza like people treat fine wine, if the location isn't aged over 10 years…we don't want it. After spending four years in Florida searching for a good family owned place we eventually seceded to a chain pizza place out of sheer desperation. But when the transition to LA happened last fall, we found a favorite place within a week. Little Toni’s has been in LA for over 50 years…and I’m pretty sure it’s a mob front. The walls are an aged wooden brown, with yellow stained glass windows that let you know what it would be like to be inside a pizza. And also, they have the world’s smallest parking lot. As we exited our pizza nirvana, we came to discover the car directly behind us did not pull in far enough, making it impossible to maneuver past it. After about five attempts to escape, I notice  a BMW waiting to take my spot (parking spots in LA are like pots of gold at the end of a rainbow, when you see one, you go for it). My wife and I eventually realize we are stuck, and we notion to the BMW that it’s not going to happen. Most sane people would understand the physical limitations science gives us…not this lady. A tall well dressed latino lady hops out of her fancy car, and begins to explain to me, “You need to pull further back and turn more.” It was a challenge to not utter the words, “captain obvious.” I am from the midwest, so my first natural inclination is to try and appease this stranger. The second is to silently scream to myself and not explain why.

I give it another couple of tries then once again tell her, “It’s not happening. Sorry.” Most rational people would drive away at this point. But she walks up to my window and says, “You want me to try? Get out. I will give it a try.” I come from a family where we treat our cars like children. So when a stranger asks to get in the driver seat of my car, it’s like someone asking me to take my baby for a stroll. I politely decline and once again let her know I wasn’t going anywhere. She tries again, “You sure. I can get it out of there.” At this point I am impressed by her gumption, also I am passed my social politeness and state, “Nope. Not going to happen. I am waiting here. Sorry.” The strong latino women got back in her car and finally drove away. It was a small victory I didn't realize I needed.

My wife went inside and convinced to the waitstaff to ask each table if they had a car matching the description of the one blocking us in. After about ten minutes of asking, no one came clean. I convinced them to ask again and at this point they were just plain angry at us. Apparently restaurants on a Friday night are often busy. So I decided to take matters into my own hands, and had to use my limited powers of perception. I noticed the car blocking us in was both a rental and had a handicapped tag. It was time to stereotype. I knew it mostly likely was not someone in an actual wheel chair because it was a smaller sedan. It had to be an old person, and figured it also had to be someone when they heard a car description, they would instinctively think back to their own car, not the rental they were currently driving.

So I began to walk up to each table with a smile on my face (playing the opposite of the stressed out waitresses who had visited them minutes before) and slowly mentioned, “white car,” and, “handicapped tag.” Sure enough, my fourth table in I found a older white gentleman who took about sixty seconds to recollect that the car he was driving today was not the same car he was driving at home yesterday. The frustration of a simple task being lengthened into a forty-five minute puzzle was soon forgotten simply because I was so happy we could finally leave. The man pulled his rental up further, and we were able to go along on our merry way.

Was it worth all that hassle for a good piece of pizza? Heck yes.