Lessons From Ziggy’s Pizza: Technically Correct Isn’t Correct.Posted: February 7, 2011 | |
When I was sixteen, I had a job at Ziggy’s Pizza. Ziggy and his restaurant are no more, but I still live by some of the lessons I learned in that little place.
At Ziggy’s, I learned about work and the adult world. I learned about food service. I learned about managing people. Mostly, even though it wasn’t what he was trying to teach me, Ziggy taught me about effective communication. He paid me $2.35 an hour to learn what he wasn’t teaching.
Ziggy’s was next to the grocery store my family patronized. We’d go in the restaurant and grab a bite occasionally. The pizza wasn’t anything special, it was just in the right place.
There was one thing that distinguished the pizza from others. The large pizza was not cut in the typical triangular fashion. Instead, it was cut with three cuts running north to south, and three cuts going east to west. The result was some slices without crust, some with crust, and four triangles. It was the sort of thing that when you see it you think, “that’s odd”…and then you eat.
I had the usual expenses of a high school junior. The place with the weird pizza had a help wanted sign, so I applied. They hired me and I started working that Friday night.
I worked a day here and there with different managers, but never met Ziggy himself. One Saturday morning he walked in. He walked in like he owned the place. I suppose owning a place entitles a person to do that, but only in that particular place.
Meeting the first person whose name was not Grandma to write me a check awed me. I think he sensed my nervousness and tried to put me at ease. We spoke for a few minutes and then I went back to work making pizza.
Let Me Show You How We Cut A Pizza
Ziggy watched me. I kept working, trying to make a good impression. Between orders, I found ways to keep busy. When an order was ready, I got down a box and slid the pizza in there like I was born for the task. I reached for the cutter, but Ziggy had other ideas. It was time for him to teach.
“Let me show you how we cut a pizza” he said, grabbing the cutter. I thought that was odd; I’d learned that the first day I worked. But the man was signing the checks, so I let him show me the wondrous north-south, east-west cutting method.
Ziggy proudly demonstrated the six cuts that distinguished his pizza from the rest. Then he asked, “any questions?” I figured I should have one, so I asked “why do we do it that way?” Ziggy told me it was so we could tell the customers that a large pizza had sixteen slices.
It occurred to me that this gave the customers the wrong impression. I started to ask about that, but a manager intervened and saved me from talking myself out of a job.
I worked a few nights a week, and tried being the best pizza maker $2.35 an hour could buy. I cut a lot of north-south, east-west pizza. When customers asked, I told them there were sixteen slices in a large pie.
One night, I gave the sixteen slice answer. The customer paid the manager and I brought the pizza out. He looked and told the manager “there’s no way there are sixteen slices of pizza in that box”.
The manager opened the box and pointed out that there were, in fact, the advertised number of separate sections of pizza. The gentleman disagreed, countering that they were not the expected slices. A debate ensued. When the customer told the manager “yes, technically you are right, but if you have to say technically to be correct, you are lying”, the debate ended.
The customer got his money back.
Ziggy’s first lesson, though he didn’t mean to teach me this, is – You don’t have to qualify the truth. If you are technically right, you are not right. In the eyes of some, you’re lying.
Sometimes I am right. I am more often wrong. I’ll always choose being wrong over technically right.