A Pizzapie Pizza Pie
By Brian Sacca
Art by Kati Pietrafeso & Ray Young Chu
Published Issue 117, September 2023
Sophie always did her best thinking when she was high. And she was really, really high.
“When I was a kid,” white spittle gathering in the creases of her lips as she began her diatribe. “When I was a kid, a large pizza pie cost $10. This large pizza pie right here only costs $6.99. How can prices go down over 30 years?”
Sophie was onto something. She took another huge rip from the bong.
“Are you following, Tyler?” reading the pizza delivery guy’s name from the sewn-on name patch on his corporate-branded shirt. “Adjusting for inflation, paying $6.99 today is like paying $3.11 when I was a kid. Are you writing this down?”
Tyler was not writing it down. He stood with his hand outstretched, waiting for his $6.99 plus tip.
“You should be writing this down, Tyler,” Sophie insisted.
Tyler flipped over the receipt and reluctantly took notes. He would do anything to incentivize some sort of tip. He needed that extra scratch. This job wasn’t paying what he’d thought it would. And now that Jennifer had another baby on the way (this would be their fourth), he was desperate for anything.
“Think about those numbers, Tyler. The corporate conglomerate you slave for charges $6.99 for a pizza. In order to make a sufficient profit, the cost of ingredients must be under two dollars per pizza. You’re telling me this 12-inch pie costs less than $2 to make?!”
Tyler quickly crafted a response that was both polite and indicated his desire to leave.
He uttered a “Whoa,” hoping this slight acknowledgment of Sophie’s passion would end her tirade and subconsciously encourage her to give him a fiver. Five bucks could get him a package of diapers. God knew he and Jennifer needed diapers. But it could also get him a cheap sixer. Hmmm … Maybe he could get shitty tonight. Tyler missed getting shitty. Back in high school, he and his buds would get shitty after every game. Tyler was known for his exceptional ability to “boot & rally.” He could make himself boot without even sticking a finger down his throat. Maybe tonight he’d boot for old time’s sake.
If only Sophie would finish.
“Pizza guy! You’re not listening! The wool has been pulled over our eyes by the ‘Pizza Industrial Complex.’ Pizza isn’t pizza anymore. They used to make pizza with leavened dough. Now, they use sawdust and melted plastic. A pizza should not be created in a lab. This pizza is a pizzashit. Yeah, I said it. It’s a pizzashit. For these reasons, I will pay for this pizza. I will eat this pizza. But I will not enjoy this pizza. So, here’s your tip — work in an industry that isn’t built on a foundation of fraud.”
Sophie passed Tyler six one-dollar bills and 99 pennies.
“Seriously? Bummer.” Tyler fingered through the coins, approximating their value. But his mind was elsewhere — no fiver, no getting shitty, no booting, no rallying.
Sophie immediately felt a pit of shame in her stomach. She knew she was being stingy. She took another rip from her bong, waiting for Tyler to leave. His presence only amplified her guilt for undertipping. He didn’t budge, instead choosing to stare into her eyes, silently pleading for something more than an unwelcome lecture. Begging for an acknowledgment of not only his struggle but his being.
Sophie’s eyes fell to the ground, “To be honest … that was the only cash I have. I just said all of the stuff about the Pizza Industrial Complex to justify not tipping you. I’m sorry.”
Resigned to his tip-less fate, Tyler turned to his Scion xB.
“Wait!” Sophie called out.
“I got more deliveries, lady,” Tyler murmured as he opened the door to his subcompact hatchback.
“Wanna smoke?” Sophie called out.
Tyler turned back. He was not much of a weed smoker. But since he wasn’t going to get that sixer, maybe now was the right time to start. “Sure,” he said.
One week later, Pizzapie Pizza began random drug testing. Tyler was tested and subsequently fired.
But Tyler refused to leave. He knew that these drug tests weren’t random. They were a targeted hit, sponsored by the leaders of the Pizza Industrial Complex. Sophie had removed the wool from Tyler’s eyes and would never let it grow back. Not only did he deny the termination, he demanded a raise.
After a video of the police escorting a ranting Tyler from Pizzapie Pizza went viral, he was able to quickly find employment as the Chief Economics Analyst for an upstart right-wing news organization.
Some nights, when Tyler is nostalgic about his days of delivering pizzas, he’ll ask his private chef/nutritionist to conjure up a pie. As the chef passes Tyler the leavened dough covered with artisanal toppings, Tyler hands him back six one-dollar bills with 99 pennies. Tyler stands, smiling, nodding at the chef with a heavy dose of self-pride.
Neither Tyler nor the chef understands the meaning of this financial exchange.
Brian Sacca is a writer/actor/director who has created and starred in traditional film/TV content and digital media for over a decade. He is most recently known for his original film script BUFFALOED, which starred Zoey Deutch and Judy Greer and was directed by Tanya Wexler. New York Times gave it a “critics pick” and called it “zippily entertaining.” Follow him on Instagram for more work.
This is Brian’s debut with Birdy. Keep your eyes peeled for more future work by this talented writer and creative.