In 2001, my daughter was born. She was the most precious thing I’ve ever held in my hands.
After FoodEase, I went back to the pizza shop as a driver. There was maybe the hope in the back of my mind that I would regain my assistant manager position, but that never happened. Mary found a job as a bill collector with a global logistics company. She told me about this particular international company—that was constantly in default, always past sixty, ninety days. The late payments did not seem to hurt either company.
I found a full time day position at a bank, and kept my driver job at the pizza shop, and financially things were looking up. Mary and I decided to have a baby, and we waited for the health insurance to kick in at the global logistics company before we got pregnant.
The bank I worked at was not in the best of neighborhoods. We were robbed a lot.
Every time we were robbed, we had the chance to earn a $150 bonus if we handed the bank robber bait—a stack of hollowed out hundred dollar bills. Inside the hollow sat a bomb filled with ink and pepper spray. Once the bait left the bank, the bomb exploded, covering the money and the robber in ink, hopefully catching the robber’s eyes with the pepper spray. I never earned the bonus, and when we were robbed, I was pretty oblivious. They were quiet affairs, these robberies. Someone would come in, approach a teller, pass a note, flash a gun, the bait was handed over along with a few thousand dollars, the robber left, the cops showed up, the bank closed for a few hours, and the robber was always caught.
When my daughter was born, the bank was not happy that I took the day off. “What do you mean you’re not coming into work?” And it wasn’t like the birth wasn’t planned—Mary was to be induced, and we had known the date for a couple of weeks. But the closer the date came, the more pressure there was for me to simply drop my wife off at the hospital and for me to return to work. I did not last long at this job.
A few weeks after my daughter’s birth, the bank accused me of stealing. They brought in an investigator with a heavy Scottish brogue and asked me about mysterious middle of the night cash deposits through the ATM. These mysterious deposits were from my evening pizza delivery escapades. Often, I’d come to the bank in a tie, and after my shift, get into my car, take off my tie, and put on my pizza delivery shirt with the reflective strip that ran down the length of a 100% polyester nylon blend. The bank removed from my account what they thought I stole, and didn’t tell me, so when I wrote a check to pay the electric, the check bounced, over drafted my account, then they shut down my account and placed me on chexsystems, which meant I couldn’t open another bank account anywhere for seven years. I spoke to lawyers. A lot of them. No one wanted the case. Most of them said, “Conflict of interest. Sorry.”
So there I was with a brand new baby girl delivering pizzas part time. While on an unpaid maternity leave, Mary often called me in the middle of my shift telling me we needed diapers or formula. I would say, “Okay, okay” and instead of depositing money into a savings account, I hit the local grocery and bought diapers and formula.
Desperate for cash again, I picked up freelance writing work at several suburban newspapers. When I first called about the writing job, the first question the editor asked was if I had a computer and Internet connection. I lied and said yes. In the mornings, we loaded our daughter into the back seat and I drove Mary through Columbus, Ohio rush hour traffic, dropped her off at work, went back home, and ate breakfast with our daughter. Made a few phone calls. Wrote a few news stories, loaded my daughter back into the car, and drove to the library. I shoved my baby girl underneath the library’s computer desk and rocked her with my foot still in the car seat, typed the news stories, and emailed them off to my editor. Then I went and picked up Mary. Then, I delivered pizzas.
One morning, on my way back from dropping Mary off at work, daughter in car seat, listening to talk radio because I was Mr. Super Big Republican back then, my radio show was interrupted.
I didn’t believe it. Couldn’t believe it. Thought it was a hoax. Thought it was one of those War of the Worlds radio broadcasts, but when I got home, every TV station. We watched and rewatched footage of the Twin Towers for weeks.