Nimarta Narang | Hello U.S.A.
A slice of American lifestyle
Published: Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 02:10
We’re college students — we’re supposed to be hungry, sleepy, moody, groggy and hyper all at the same time. It has dawned on me that although we are in college to develop our knowledge and learn, our routines are based on the basic necessities of life — the things we need in order to function, like clothes, sleep and food. Everything else is just icing on top. If I even just take one small trip to Davis Square, I feel accomplished because I have done something other than sleep, eat, study or watch TV.
So this past weekend, I did something different. I chose to act on a whim and do something completely impulsive — something unexpected and shocking that would actually require effort. I decided to order in pizza.
Back at home, pizza was a sort of luxury I would eat only when hosting parties or getting together with friends. Here, however, it’s not a luxury at all — Dewick serves it almost everyday. So now that you know how unusual it was for me to consume pizza outside of Dewick, you may understand why I had been hesitant to order it before: I didn’t want the fact that I had pizza right at my disposal to spoil the feeling I normally got back home every time I ordered it — the anticipation of the greasy, cheesy, fat-filled meal. The main difference is that back at home, I mainly ate Thai food, while here, I mostly eat “American” food. However, odd as it may sound, I wanted to order in pizza as a way to feel back at home again — as if I were in Thailand ordering a slice of the “American” lifestyle.
My roommate and I searched for pizza parlors nearby that were affordable on the budget of a college student who only sleeps, eats and studies. We settled on one, and I made the call. Imagine how exciting it was for me to order pizza in the United States — a scene I have only witnessed in TV shows and movies. The person on the other end of the line picked up and said, “What do you want?” I was slightly startled. After asking whether this was the correct number for the pizza place, I received another brusque response: “Yes, now what do you want?” I immediately felt like a five-year-old child who accidentally smacked the back of an adult who hates kids. I answered, expending the little amount of confidence I had left and continued the conversation with a half mind to hang up. Then he said, “45 minutes. Be there,” and hung up first.
At home, I would have had a pleasant conversation with the person on the other end of the line. In Thailand, you can almost taste the sweetness with which the people at take-out restaurants answer your calls. They would have politely requested that I be ready in 45 minutes to pay for delivery, instead of being so curt and demanding. Their pleasant manner sometimes even makes me want to order more food! But on this phone call, the roles were reversed. It was as if the pizza guy were the customer and I the supplier ... of money. It was as if I was doing him a favor by ordering food. Later, he called to signal his arrival 20 minutes too early. As I rummaged for money, he called me again, saying, “I can’t wait forever — I have other things.”
Ordering in pizza isn’t as fun as I remembered it to be. The delicious taste of the pizza only mildly made up for the rude conversation I had had earlier. In a way, I felt like I was being punished for overlooking the pizzas in Dewick. I have always thought of pizza delivery as a huge aspect of U.S. culture — part of the “American dream” lifestyle. It is fundamental to the whole pizza-ordering process that it is delivered by a person who is nice and wants to keep you coming back to their store. I am truly hoping that this was a random occurrence and that the pizza delivery person was just having a bad day. In the end, though, all that really mattered was that I had my computer screen, some soda and pizza to end the day.
Nimarta Narang is a freshman who has not yet declared a major. She can be reached at Nimarta.Narang@tufts.edu.