A few years ago the pizza shop I was working at was plagued with so many fake and prank orders we were calling back to confirm every order that wasn’t recognized as a regular. There were probably 15 to 20 bad orders per week which was starting to eat into the profits. For a larger city they might get that many in one night, I don’t know, but this a real problem for this store.
Most of pranks would consist of two fake addresses within a few hundred feet of each other and the second pizza was taken from the car while the driver would be out of the car with the first one. Some drivers had a problem with locking their car doors for some reason. The incident in this story was a different kind of prank.
It was mid afternoon and I was working a kitchen shift for a change, it was just me and a driver there. A kid about 12 years old called and ordered approximately $50 worth of pizza. As I mentioned before we were getting alot of prank orders and I was on guard for them. This kid sounded legitimate even ordering that much food. I did actually call back to confirm the order and everything sounded okay. I was very good at spotting fakes by this point in my career, this kid was good.
The driver left with the order, about 15 minutes later he returned with the pizzas. I asked what happened. He said that that the address was that of a little old lady in her eighties who was very confused about what was going on and assumed that she had to pay for it. He said she was very sad and upset in her confusion. He said he had a hard time calming her down.
The first thing I did was call the number back that had been given. If I had any doubt about who I was speaking to I might have done something different but I knew it was the same kid who had a very distinctive voice. As soon as he knew he was talking to someone at the pizza shop he couldn’t hide the guilt in his voice. I asked him what kind of stunt he thought he was pulling here and he said he didn’t do it but his brother does stuff like this all the time. I asked him “Your brother does what all the time? It sounds like you know all about it and by the way I know your voice. Don’t leave your house, you are in big trouble in case your wondering.”
I called the police. I asked them what I could do in a case like this. The officer I talked to answered “What do you want to do?” I said that if he came in to the store and paid for the order and apologized to the old lady there wouldn’t be any further action. The officer ran the address of the little old lady and the phone number I gave him and it turned out that she lived across the street from the boy. I guess he did it just so he could watch and see what happened. The officer stopped in a couple of hours later and said he called the boy and got his father’s number at work. The officer told the father to go home, pick up his son and then pay me a visit.
It wasn’t long after the officer left that a man in a suit and a respectable looking young boy came into the shop. The boy was bawling his eyes out and carrying his piggy bank. At this sight I did feel a little bit bad but that was outweighed by how much this had been going on and by the fact that it upset a little old lady so much.
As the boy cried and counted out the money from his piggy bank I spoke to his father who was obviously very dissappointed in his son. I felt sorry for the boy because in the brief conversation with his father I learned that he was an only child and didn’t really have any friends. He had done this whole thing himself where most kids would do it to show off for their buddies. This had been some sort of cry for attention or just a really bored kid, I don’t know. At this point I felt like saying that he learned his lesson and to keep the money but it was too late for that.
As they were heading for the door the father turned to me and said. “How did you catch him anyway”? I said “Wasn’t hard, he gave your home phone number”? “You stupid bastard” is all he said to his son as they turned and left.
I still can’t decide if it was too harsh or it was the right thing to do in this situation. These people lived in a nice part of town and looked like respectable people. It never really hurt anybody except maybe the feelings of the old lady. I never did find out if he apologized to her. I can guarantee that the boy never did anything like this again. Maybe I prevented his downward spiral into a life of crime.