Wait, that wasn't pepper in the pizza crust? Rats!
By Mark Rutledge
Saturday, May 26, 2018
A story in the news a few weeks ago highlighted a pizza-delivery establishment that had become infested with rats. It has taken me this long to be able to swallow hard and talk about it.
This story received national attention because of an online photograph that went viral. The image displayed a tray of raw pizza dough topped with black sprinkles. Large poppy seeds they were not.
There is nothing earth-shattering about rats raiding a restaurant. It happens. But this story really grabbed my attention, and not just because the pizza place happens to be right down the road from my house.
I have chosen not to name the friends with whom we shared three pizzas two days before the story broke. They have insisted never again letting us buy the pizza. I don’t want to mess that up.
I’m also withholding the name of the establishment. That information has been widely distributed already.
Besides, I might be partly to blame. If I did indeed eat several slices of pizza seasoned with rat pellets, my own karma might be at play.
Three contributing events from the past come to mind:
■ I was nine and at summer church camp helping an older girl heat a huge kettle of chili in the mess tent. My job was to wave the flies away while she stirred. She could stir a lot faster than I could wave. Neither of us ate any chili. God would forgive us, she said.
■ When I was a teenager working at the Jiffy Market, I failed to disclose to inquiring customers the real reason we closed the hot dog machine for an entire weekend. Those tiny roaches I’d been seeing for weeks had belonged to a larger family living behind the cigar rack just above the machine.
■ I once was a rat myself. Not long after we moved into the farm house where my mother still lives, we discovered that a colony of rats was living there, too. At night they would scurry through a hole in the floor in search of food.
After Mom encountered a big rat sifting through the kitchen garbage one night, she set poison under the house. The poison did its job, and Mom asked me to go into the crawl space and remove the dead rats.
“Somebody has to do it,” she said as I recoiled. I mentioned something about there not being enough money in the world for me to perform such a task, and I left to hang out with my friends.
While I was gone, my sweet and kind little mother belly-crawled under that old house with a flashlight and a trash bag. She hauled out 15 dead rats.
A few well-done droppings on some pizza won’t kill me. Knowing I let my mother do that all those years ago still does.
Legendary country comic and raconteur Jerry Clower used to leave his audiences in stitches with talk about the Clowers’ undertaking a community “rat killin’” on the family’s place to rid the laid-by corn harvest of the rodents. Jerry has long since left us, but the pizza chain near my house might want to contat some of the Clower clan for their vermin-exterminating expertise.
“If I’m lyin’ I’m dyin’.”
Contact Mark Rutledge at firstname.lastname@example.org or like him on Facebook at Mark Rutledge Columns.