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March 17, 2008
Papa Murphy’s Pizza and
the Kid on Break
The next time a client needs something from me, I’m going to say I wish
I could help, but I’m on break. I figure that if I do this continually
for about a week, I will have no clients at all, which will make it easy
for me to just skip work every day and go to baseball games.
came up with this plan at Papa Murphy’s.
Papa Murphy’s offers a very agreeable concept in pizza. You buy the
pizza assembled but unbaked, take it home and stick it in the oven for
12 to 18 minutes (I recommend the low end, but that’s me), and you’ve
got yourself a hot, fresh pizza.
This concept was first introduced to me by fellow North Star Writers
Group columnist David Karki. Once we maneuvered our way past the lack of
a pizza cutter in his apartment, we ate like kings. And now that a Papa
Murphy’s has opened less than a mile from my house, I suspect I’ll be
overlooking my inherent skepticism about Irish people preparing pizza,
and patronizing it quite a bit.
Earlier this week, I went with Mrs. Krause and seven-year-old T.F. to
the new Papa Murphy’s to order a beautiful array of raw dough, uncooked
meat and unmelted cheese. I dream about stuff like this. We walked in
and looked at the menu on the wall, but we couldn’t order yet because
the only employee in sight was on the phone in the back.
“Uh huh, OK, and then what?” he said.
Mrs. Krause pointed out that they have cookie dough! And we waited some
“Can you repeat that please? I didn’t hear what you said,” said the
employee on the phone.
T.F. pointed out with excitement that they had schedules for the local
baseball team! We took 25 of them. And waited some more.
“Yes, mm-hmm, OK, yep . . .” said the employee on the phone.
Once we had been there about 10 minutes, I turned to Mrs. Krause and did
one of those hands-in-the-air gestures that wonders non-verbally if
we’re ever going to get service.
“He’s the on the phone!” she said. “And he’s the only one here!”
“Maybe he should get off the phone,” I said. “There are customers here.”
Right at that moment, more customers walked in.
Mrs. Krause used to work in food service, and she instinctively defends
all food service workers, no matter how poorly they serve customers.
They’re like a big national fraternity, but with girls, and there’s no
point criticizing one to another.
Just then, a second employee emerged from the back to take our order and
make our pizza. Who was this guy? Where did he come from?
“I’m really sorry for the wait,” he said. “I was on break.”
Ah. Break. I looked at Mrs. Krause. This time I made no physical
gestures. My eyes spoke. Had they been a mouth, they would have said,
“On #$*($@ break? While customers are standing here waiting?”
“He was on break!” she reminded me.
The concept of the employee break is truly fascinating. It is 15 minutes
in which you will not do any work no matter what happens. You will not
wait on a customer. You will not help an overwhelmed colleague. If
you’re a union member, you can get hauled before the shop steward for so
much as thinking about work you might do.
is a period of mandated sloth. Smoking three or four cigarettes is
encouraged, but no break-taking employee is perfect. At least make a
mess and don’t clean it up – or something.
course, you can presume that the opposite is true, right? If you work a
six-hour shift, and you take a 15-minute break in there somewhere, that
other five hours and 45 minutes is nonstop, nose-to-the-grindstone
productivity. No customers around? Scrub table legs! The place is
immaculate? Devise marketing gimmicks to get people to come into the
store! Maybe you could build a 200-foot-high inflatable Irishman who
holds raw pizza dough.
That’ll stop traffic.
employee would ever stand around and do nothing during a non-break
portion of a shift. That would adulterate the whole concept of the
break. It would be wrong on so many levels. I know, I can’t imagine it
That’s why, once the break begins, no work can be done. Waiting
customers? Swamped co-workers? Place burning down? Sip your drink and
inhale that nicotine, Sparky. You are on break.
Don’t worry. The world will wait for you.
© 2008 North Star
Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.
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