Bateman & Robbing
Daily Herald #33
"Bateman & Robbing"
by Eric D. Snider
Published in The Daily Herald on June 19, 1997
The call came in like any other. Someone wanted to order pizza. As a Pizza Delivery Guy, I immediately sprang into action. Unfortunately, I couldn't really do much because the pizza still had to be made. Once it was made, though, I was right on top of things.
As I sped down the street in Pedro, my 1987 Hyundai Excel, I glanced at the order. The name on it was "Bateman." I thought, "Bateman ... Bateman ... Bateman ... Where do I know that name from?" Then it hit me: I had forgotten the breadsticks!
I raced back, obtained the bread in question, and was soon on my way again. By the time I reached the house, I had made the connection: BYU has a president named Bateman -- Merrill J. Bateman, to be exact.
The door of the large, spacious house in the Indian Hills of Provo was answered by a man who was not Merrill J. Bateman. I quickly scanned his face to see if he could be a relative. He bore some resemblance to Merrill J. Bateman, insofar as they were both males and both had the regular features you'll find on your standard face -- nose, mouth, eyes, etc.
I was courteously admitted into the house, carrying four pizzas, four bags of breadsticks, and four containers of dipping sauce. I was shown into the kitchen area, where several women of various generational origins were sitting around the table. There were children frolicking in the backyard. It was obviously a family gathering of some kind. The man who appeared to be patriarch was bending down, picking something up off the ground. While still bent over, he said, "Where's the checkbook?" He then stood upright, and there before my eyes stood Merrill J. Bateman.
I was unsure how to act. I didn't know if I should say, "Hey, President Bateman, I go to your school," because this is Provo, and nearly everyone my age goes to BYU, and well, frankly, so what? I thought of making a dumb joke like, "Gee, President Bateman, why are you buying pizza when you can eat at the Cougareat [BYU's cafeteria] for free?" but I opted against that. I eventually decided to remain silent on the matter, since I could think of no reasonable way of bringing it up.
He found his checkbook and prepared to write a check. I told him the amount he owed was $35.64. He and the man I had determined to be his son made small talk with me. Merrill J. Bateman signed the check and sent me on my way with a friendly "thank you."
I bounced out the door, excited over my brief brush with fame. Not since the MTC president had asked me to stop playing the piano so loudly had I felt so "in-touch" with a celebrity. Then I glanced at the check, written in Merrill J. Bateman's own hand.
It was for $35.64.
The amount of the order.
My world came crashing down around me. Images grew fuzzy. I stumbled to the car and choked back my tears as I fumbled for the ignition. I couldn't find the gearshift. The gearshift mocked me.
I don't remember the drive back to the store. I know that I when I arrived I had to be led by fellow employees to the back room, where I lay on the break table with a cold compress on my forehead for the rest of the evening.
Why hadn't Merrill J. Bateman given me a tip? The order had arrived on time -- five minutes early, in fact -- and it was accurate. I had smiled and been pleasant. I wasn't going to starve or miss my rent or anything, but it was the principle of the matter. Why hadn't he tipped?
Perhaps he thought the "delivery charge" added to the price went to me, and not to the company. That's not true, nor is true at any pizza place I know of -- drivers NEVER get those delivery fees, they're to cover company costs -- but at least that would be a reasonable explanation for his not tipping.
Or maybe he's one of those people who don't know that you're supposed to tip drivers. I've been surprised at how many people I've met in my everyday life who don't know that. But surely a man of Merrill J. Bateman's age and experience would have learned at some point that you tip pizza guys. But maybe not.
I'm over it now. The experience has hardened me, made me a little wiser. But mostly it has taught me the value of something, and reminded me that something is good, or something.
Copyright © Eric D. Snider.
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