Westside Deli

In 1987 I was working at a pizza place called Westside Deli on Lansing’s north side. I was 17 years old and my job was my obsession (this was in the pre pool and Leroy’s days). I was damn good at making pizzas and in the slow hours I’d spar with my Laotian co-worker Arigna Vilayseng who would teach me kung fu by kicking me in dramatic fashion and throwing knives at me. We were the two best workers on the night crew but one day they had me work training the new guy who was a white guy from Bath named John Schoonmaker.

I had John start with the easy stuff just helping with the prep stuff while I made the actual pizzas. I didn’t need him slowing down my rotation. Then at a slow point John tried making some Chinese jokes about Arigna. “Chinese people: Ching chong ching chang!” he said, squinting his eyes. Evidently he thought he was clever and very original.

“Arigna’s not Chinese, he’s Laotian. And don’t let him catch you doing that. He will fuck you up. He can fight.”

“I can fight too” says John, dubiously.

“No. He can really fight.

I didn’t have too much trouble working with John, besides the fact that he didn’t have a great work ethic. I think he kind of resented the fact that he was 19 and I was a 17 year old taking charge of what to do but what the hell, I was better than him at it.

Then one day I had a little scam going on. Some of my friends had got together and I was making us a pizza, a huge pizza with extra cheese and double items, damn near everything I could throw on it. It was so thick I had to cook it an extra five minutes to make sure the dough got done on the inside because when it’s that thick all the toppings insulate the middle. I told my peeps when they came to the drive thru to just hand me a $20 and I’d put it in the cash register and hand them back a ten and two fives so it would look like a transaction but would cost nothing (I can say this now because the place is out of business and I’m sure the statue of limitations has run out on this one).

Anyway, when the pizza was finally done I scooped it out of the oven. It was heavy as midget. It was so big the pizza slider thing was actually bending in the middle from the tension. I slid the pizza onto the cardboard pizza box so I could cut it. It looked fabulous. The extra cheese, onions, mushrooms, ground beef, and green olives just glistened. Angels were singing in the background.

I grabbed the pizza cutter and I noticed John salivating at the pizza as I was about it cut it. He didn’t know it was for my homies and me. For all he knew it was for any old customer. I cut it up into 8 slices, then turned to him and said:

“This pizza looks good, doesn’t it?”

“Hell yeah it does! I wish I could have some of that right now!”

“I know. . . Me too” I agree.

I look at the pizza some more, then turn to him and say “Fuck it, I can’t take it anymore.” I grab a piece from the inside and take a big bite out of it. John looks at me, his eyes bugging out in disbelief at what I have done.

“I can’t believe you just did that! What the fuck???”

I laugh and put the slice back and pull some of the extra cheese over the empty spot in the middle and say “That’s all right, nobody will ever know!”

When my homies come through and get the pizza, I make sure and tell them about the slice with the bite out of it. I say “Put that to the side, that’s mine.” I let John go on believing it had taken a bite out of a random stranger’s pizza. Now I wonder if he ever tried that himself. Who cares? I never ordered from Westside Deli after that except if I made it myself.

16 Responses to “Westside Deli”

  1. guy in the UNLV jacket says:

    That was a good ass pizza. I remember that hookup going throught the drive through in my ’79 black firebird….Man those were the days

  2. R says:

    HAHAHAHAHA!!! Awesome! Man, I wish I had pals working at a pizza joint making me a humongous midget-thick pie.

    Fuck my stupid friends.

  3. Mexigogue says:

    Now I’m all hungry for Westside Deli. That place is now a law office. Hey we should have hooked up with the “D” if we knew him back then. We could have had free Westside Deli pizza, stolen beer, and black market vegetables from when he robbed the vegetable man!

  4. rae says:

    My ex-husband’s parents started Westside Deli and Made MILLIONS off of it when they franchised. My ex-husband was pissed cause he was supposed to take over the business but they sold it out from underneathe him. When we would go to their house for family functions they would give me their famous dough-to-go. MMMMMmmmm that was good eatins.

  5. The "D" says:

    That would have been the bomb. I also had a cousin that sold the “GHAN” — that’s what we called it.

    I wish I was around back in the day. Damn!!

    My hookup was Mickey D’s. we had 4 boxes of those damn Monopoly pieces to open and still did not win. That’s why I don’t play those crap games anymore.

  6. Mexigogue says:

    Mike Nolan owned the one I worked at and his picture is on the wall at Leroy’s because placed won in a state pool tournament when he was 17.

  7. guy in the UNLV jacket says:

    Free Pizza, Beer, Weed, Vegtables and McDonalds Monopoly pieces. That is better than those old Old Milwakee commercials…I guess it does get better than that

  8. Hillary Clinton says:

    You forgot free health care!

  9. Phelps says:

    Notice that Guy didn’t include women in that list. We know what he is all about now.

    The only food service I ever worked at was Arbys. This was back when they first started that Arby’s Melt thing, and they were $.99. We got a 30% employee discount (those were some good benefits, huh?) so I could get them for $.69.

    I remember one day I bought like four Melts when the old black lady was working the sandwich counter. I could eat four because it was

    top
    1/4 oz Smoked Cheddar Cheese Sauce
    1.5 oz Slow Roasted Sliced Beef
    Heel

    When I got the damned things, there was like an ounce of cheese and about eight ounces of beef on them. I couldn’t eat them because they were too tall to bite and the bun kept sliding off because there was so much cheese. I had to take them apart. For reference, a roast beef sandwich has four ounces of beef on it. I think those giant ones they sell now (I think it is called a Big Montana) has about eight ounces ON A BUN TWICE AS BIG.

    They loved me working there because I was overqualified. They always put me on drive through because I wasn’t, you know, a slack jawed shiftless idiot, and I always used my radio voice.

    “HIIIIIII, welcome to ARby’s, may I take your order please?”

    “Uh… what’s on a ‘Arby Melt’?” (This is when everyone wearing a headset stops to hear the show.)

    “Our Arby Melt is thin sliced slow roasted beef with our famous smoked cheddar sauce on a lightly toasted bun. It’s terrific with our Arby or Horsey Sauce!”

    “… Wow… What’s a Cordun Blow?”

    “Our Cordoun Bleu sandwich is a juicy breaded filet of chicken topped with hot sliced ham and a melted slice of Swiss Cheese on a toasted Sesame Seed bun.”

    “Oh wow.”

    I should have gone into advertising.

  10. Mexigogue says:

    Dude!!!! That reminds me of the day we were short staffed and the Asian dude took over at drive thru! He didn’t normally work it because his accent was really bad but he knew his stuff. But at the end, instead of saying “Ok, that comes to $2.60”, he would say “DAT BECOME $2.60!!!” He said it like that and really loud and we were DYING laughing! (if he googles his names he’s gonna look me up and kick my ass again)

    “DAT BECOME $5.20! DAT BECOME $1.30!” We’re howling in the background DAT BECOOME??? What the hell was it BEFORE??? HAHAHHAHAHHAHAHAHAA!!

    That guy needs to do radio too!

  11. rae says:

    Actually it’s Mike NOLEN. He’s an attorney now and represented my husband in our divorce. Cock-sucking bastard. Anyhow- Phil and Maria Nolen were the original owners and they let Mike run a few of them. If I had put up with my Ex’s drinking I could have inherited a nice chunk of change-but it so wasn’t worth it.

  12. guy in the UNLV jacket says:

    you got me Phelps!

  13. The "D" says:

    Phelps and Mexi got a belly laugh out of me at work!!! Man I am cracking up!!!

    That become $3.50! That will be my battle cry this year! That become three ass whoopins in a row in pool Joe and King!

  14. Phelps says:

    HEY. Whycome I can look all over the BCA website and not find out how in the hell you figure up the score in 8-ball, much less how you figure an average, yet on the ABC website you can find out exactly how to figure out both the score and an average (including both your 21 game rolling average and your book average.) Whycome?

  15. Mexigogue says:

    For the same reason that when I want to find a Michigan Department of Community Health document, I use Google rather than the MDCH search engine: it’s cuz of the Mexicans!

  16. Phelps says:

    Oh, Reno 911! moment. There was the episode where they all think that Trudy is dating the Trukee River Killer, and Dangle tells Jones to look up the guy’s name on the computer, and then gets pissed off.

    “What are you doing? Are you looking on google? Are you stupid? Use the Sherrif’s department search. Damnit, you’ve been surfing so much porn you’ve forgetten how to use the damn computer to find criminals!”

    Jones just stares at him and they cut to commercial.