As I write this, GOP presidential candidate and former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain has just finished giving his speech at the Ames Straw Poll. I didn’t see it, but I plan on going back and watching once it hits YouTube.
You see, I’ve been keenly interested in Mr. Cain’s candidacy. And it’s not just because of his fantastic mustache or speechifying. We share a connection, Herman and I.
I was a Godfather’s Pizza delivery driver and dishwasher for roughly a year and a half. In my ’89 Ford Thunderbird, I delivered piping hot — or fairly warm, as was most often the case — pizzas to the residents of Canby, Oregon.
Cain wasn’t CEO of Godfather’s while I was working there, but since he’s running on his business acumen, specifically how he turned the pizza chain into a profitable operation, it seems like fair game.
Earlier in his campaign, Cain was questioned about why Godfather’s didn’t deliver to certain black neighborhoods in Omaha under his watch. Cain explained that delivery drivers were being assaulted.
“If I wouldn’t send my own child there, I wouldn’t send your child there!” Cain said with typical gusto. “And that’s the same way a President Cain will make decisions about our military.”
In addition to being ridiculous, Cain’s statements sent me on a trip down memory lane.
I was hired at Godfather’s Pizza in the fall of 2003. My training video was narrated by a stereotypical “godfather” figure — a portly, mustachioed man in a three-piece suit and fedora.
“Welcome to da family,” he said in the introduction. And somewhere, all of my dead Italian ancestors sighed and dipped deeper into their wine.
Now, as a delivery driver, I never faced any existential threats, but there were uncomfortable moments.
Like the time I delivered to the crappiest apartment building in town. It looked like it had been airlifted from a barrio and dropped into place.
I knocked on the door of the apartment, waited a minute, heard nothing and knocked again. As soon as my hand knocked a second time, I heard someone stomping loud and fast to the door.
The door flew open, revealing a shirtless, gaunt man with sunken cheeks and red rings around his eyes. I pegged him for a meth head on the spot.
It took him a little while longer to figure me out. There was a brief, pregnant pause while he glared at me, and then his look softened.
“Oh,” he said. “It’s you.”
Turning to look over his shoulder, he shouted, “Honey, put your pants on! The pizza man is here.”
I was suddenly less afraid of the wiry speed freak in front of me than what possible behemoth lurked out of my field of vision.
There were countless other instances, like middle-aged men in bathrobes trying to lure me into their apartments or night deliveries deep into rural backwoods. I delivered to a trucker at an interstate rest stop once. It all turned out fine, but constantly replaying scenes from “Saw” and “Deliverance” in your head is not good for long-term mental health.
Health-wise, I never saw anything gross or damning about Godfather’s pizzas, but I will say the logistics of making hundreds of pizzas a day leads to certain unappetizing divisions of labor.
When I wasn’t washing dishes or delivering pizzas, I spent a lot of time greasing deep dish pans with a lard-soaked sponge or slathering uncooked pizza crusts with paintbrushes dipped in liquid butter.
Sometimes I think about what the federal government would look like if Cain was elected and ran it the same way as a Godfather’s Pizza joint. I like to imagine all manager positions would be held by middle-aged women who would roam the halls of government shouting, “If you got time to lean, you got time to clean!”
Staffers would be high throughout the majority of their workdays.
Federal employees would be sent home when labor costs started to cut too far into profits. That doesn’t sound like such a bad idea, actually.
I quit Godfather’s in the spring of 2005 to take an internship at a newspaper. Cain resigned in 1996 to head the National Restaurant Association. I wish the Cain Train well, although I suppose that’s mostly because I didn’t die a grisly death at the hands of a wiry meth addict and his pantless wife.
C.J. Ciaramella is a reporter with The Daily Caller