I ordered pizza the other night because the guys were coming over for some cards. I'm rushing around trying to get everything set up and still have time to run the Little Caesar’s to pick up a few hot and ready $5 pizzas. My wife tells me she saw the marquee at Hungry Howie’s showing 1 topping large pizza for 5.55 order 3 or more free delivery. "Sold."
I call and order two pepperoni and one cheese. I ask them if they accept checks. "Yes sir but we need some information on the check. Is it a starter check?”
“Is it from out of state?"
“Sir we will need two phone numbers on the check.”
Can they be the same number?
I whisper to my wife: Honey where is the checkbook?
"We also need your driver’s license number listed."
OK got it, as I start writing this information on the check.
"Sir please put this number on your check. 75494895763291984."
OK got it, more writing and trying to keep up with numbers previously requested.
"Can you also provide me the routing number from the bottom of the check?"
This better be the best pizza evar.
My phone beeps for call waiting. I could barely contain my excitement. It is the small things in my life that keep me going. I check the caller ID and it is George, one of the guys. I ask the pizza guy, "Hey can you hold please?" That’s right, were you paying attention? I put the pizza guy on hold! Take a minute to let that sink in...George was calling to say he was running late. I told George what I had just done. “Really?”
George why is your voice cracking?
"You are my hero man. I get put on hold every time I call a pizza place."
See you in a minute.
I flash back over to the pizza guy. Hey man you still there?
Where were we? First born?
"I need the routing number from the bottom of your check."
Hey buddy before we go any further I am going to need your social security number.
"Sir we have to have this information due to the bad checks we receive."
How long will it take for the pizzas to be delivered?
"They should be there in about 45 minutes."
Perfect. Hey how much is it going to be?
OK thanks as I fill out the check for 21.07. Since my math skills are limited to calculating golf scores, I hang up and ask my wife if that sounds like free delivery to her. She says, “Sounds like they charged you for delivery.”
Within about 10 minutes after my wife and kids leave, my doorbell rings. I thought it was one the guys. It was the pizza guy. Hey man you are early.
"How are you doing tonight sir?"
Let me get the check.
"Sir in order to pay with a check I am going to need some information on the check."
Yes I know I been filling out the pre-check application since this morning. Shake my hand I was approved.
Nevermind, here you go. There is the number they gave me, as I pointed to a general area on the check that was filled with numbers.
He hands me the pizza and I say thanks.
We have to get a lot of information on the check because of all the bad check we recieve."
So I have heard.
"Just last week I had a guy stiff me for $30.00. That comes out of my paycheck."
Hey at least you know where he lives, right? We shared a chuckle.
"My name is Howard." He sticks his hand out for me to shake it.
Hey Howard. I shook his hand.
"Are you and oilman?"
What...I look at my shirt...no I was just in an oilmen’s golf tournament as a guest. Howard I would not be ordering pizza if I was an oilman. We shared another chuckle.
He looks at the check.
"Sir this check does not include a tip."
Several things suddenly become crystal clear to me. 1 - Howard is a large man. 2 - Howard has a good firm hand shake maybe from crushing beer cans on his forehead or belly. 3 - He just asked me for a tip. 4 - With all the numbers and qualifications during the check approval process I failed to add a tip to the total. 4 - I had no cash. 5 - My wife who usually has some cash was gone. 6 - Howard has a crazy eye that was starting to twitch. 7 - Howard had been stalling. 8 - Howard is a large man. 9 - Howard is not leaving without a tip. "Sir they do not provide the gas we use to deliver these pizzas. We have to pay for our own gas." He looks at the check again, "I do not see a tip on the check."
Howard Can you come back in about 30 minutes? I will take up a collection from the guys. I am tapped out of cash at the moment. Howard did not say anything, but his eyes opened real big as he took a deep breath. Before he could say or do anything he would regret while he sat in his jail cell I said, Howard will you be at work tomorrow, I can stop by.
"I do not work again until Wednesday. Just put it in an envelope with 'Howard' on it. Can you remember 'Howard'?"
10 - Howard is holding a check with my checking account information, drivers license number, two phone numbers, address, and signature. 11 - Howard knows where I live.
Howard man how can I forget your name?
"God will bless me. May God bless you too." Howard turned and left.
I did not sleep well Monday night or Tuesday night. I get home from work on Wednesday and steal, borrow, $5 from my wife’s purse. I get a security envelope and put "HOWARD" on the front. I write a note "Howard - Sorry about being short on cash Monday night, hope this get to you." Slipped the $5 inside the letter and sealed the envelope.
"Honey will you go to the store for me?"
Sure I have an errand to run any way.
"Where you going?"
I mean Howie’s. I owe the delivery guy a tip.
"They charge you a delivery fee already why do you owe the driver a tip?"
Howard was really nice and I felt bad for him. Plus he asked for it. I will be back in a few minutes.
Since I did not want to go alone, I took a witness, my four year old daughter. We arrived at Hungry Howie’s. I saw Howards truck parked outside. I walked in and scoped out the workers behind the counter; no Howard. A teenage girl stepped up to the counter and asked if I needed any help. As my voice cracked, Is Howard here? "Yeah he is the back, I will get him." She walks to the back and I pull my daughter close to me thinking maybe he will not show too much aggression if I have a child close by. "He is on the phone, can I help you?"
What is he on the phone with the bank?
Yeah can you see that he gets this? I hand her the envelope.
As she walks back to the back again I leave.
Why did I do it? It was the right thing to do. Will I ever order from Hungry Howie’s again? Course not; they can put notes on their computer systems for bad customers. I cannot put my buddies at risk chancing bad pizza from a crazy man. Did I sleep well Wednesday night? Like a baby.