There Is A Pot Of Feel-Good Gold At The End Of This Rainbow

, , , , , , | Right | June 2, 2020

I pick up the phone one night and answer with our usual spiel. The woman on the phone orders a pizza and a couple of containers of pasta and a garlic bread for delivery.

After ordering her normal food, she pauses and says this:

Woman: “This is going to sound nuts, but do you think there is any way you guys could make a rainbow pizza?”

Me: “Uh… so, a pizza shaped like a rainbow? Or with all the toppings mixed on top?”

Woman: “Honestly, I don’t mind. It doesn’t even have to taste nice. My five-year-old daughter is very sick and in hospital, and tonight is her birthday. She asked earlier for a rainbow pizza, and I didn’t think it was possible, but I figured it never hurt to ask. I don’t think she’d even be well enough to eat any of it, but seeing one would make her happy…”

The woman’s voice cracks as she’s talking. One of the pizza cooks has wandered over to get a drink and has heard my half of the conversation. I put the woman on hold and ask the pizza cook directly. When he hears it’s for a sick kid, he picks up the phone himself.

Pizza Cook: “Hi! Any allergies?”

Woman: “Nope. Can you really do it?”

Pizza Cook: “I’m gonna try my hardest!”

I take her address for delivery it’s going to the hospital and let her know it’ll be there as soon as possible. By now, the pizza cook has grabbed the other cook and they are excitedly talking between themselves. One of them ducks to the supermarket while the other one carefully stretches a pizza base into a rough rainbow shape.

When he comes back, they set to work on making the rainbow pizza. They use capsicums for the orange and green, cheese for the yellow, and tomatoes on the red arch, and I laugh when I realise the supermarket trip was for purple cauliflower that they’ve quickly blanched. I wonder what on earth they are going to use for the blue strip, and they produce a bottle of blue food dye and start tinting some of our bechamel sauce!

After it runs through the oven, it looks incredible. They carefully arrange some of our garlic poppers at the base of the rainbow-like clouds and pack it neatly into an oversized calzone box. The delivery driver has gotten involved and is doodling balloons on the outside of the boxes.

The girlfriend of the pizza cook is our dessert girl, and she has arranged some brownies in a box with some sprinkles and icing. The delivery guy carefully carries it out and the pizza cooks look pleased with themselves.

About half an hour later, the delivery driver comes back, grinning ear to ear. He pulls out his phone to show us photos of that sweet little girl’s face when she opened up her rainbow pizza and her birthday brownies. She was over the moon!

Her family regularly comes back to us now. She is still sick, but she is doing much better and is always a ball of sunshine when she comes in, calling us all her friends. Rainbow pizza went through some flavour testing and recipe changes and is now a permanent part of our menu!

This story is included in our Feel-Good roundup for June 2020!

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This Should Have You In Stitches

, , , , , , | Healthy | May 21, 2020

I got in a minor motorcycle accident and I was in an emergency room to get stitches for a gash in my forehead. They told me they had a little girl, maybe six or seven, who needed stitches but was completely flipping out about it and asked if it would be okay to let her watch me.

So, basically, I had a little girl on a stool standing over me next to the doctor, and I chatted with her about how you can’t feel anything except some tugging, which doesn’t hurt after they give you anesthetics, as they stitched me up.

This story was included in our May 2020 Inspirational Roundup.

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I’m Still Jenny From The Checkout

, , , , | Right | May 15, 2020

I am ringing up a mother and son. The son is about four or five, and he just keeps staring at me with these huge eyes. As I finish ringing up their items, the little boy does that little-kid loud whisper.

Boy: “Mommy, she’s pretty like Jennifer Lopez!”

Me: “Oh, my gosh, he’s already doing the good lies! He’s going to be a heartbreaker!”

I was so flattered! He just made my day!

This story was included in our May 2020 Inspirational Roundup.

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That Four-Year-Old Is Braver Than Some Adult Editors…

, , , , , , , | Learning | May 4, 2020

It is spring 2004. A species of cicada emerges as adults every seventeen years in the Washington, DC area — DC, Northern Virginia, and Maryland.  

They are everywhere: trees, buildings, roads. And they make an eerie sound because of the billions of them that are trying to find a mate at the same time. When they emerge, they come out of the ground in their nymph stage, dry out, and then molt their exoskeleton one last time. Once they’ve mated, they lay their eggs in the outer twig-like branches of trees. In doing so, the egg takes its nutrition from the tree, killing off the outer twelve inches or so of every branch of the tree.

So, all of the Hitchcockian effects of this insect: little mounds of dirt where each cicada emerges, discarded exoskeletons, cicadas flying everywhere, eerie sound, and many trees’ outer branches dying off.

During this time, I’ve headed to my daughter’s preschool, which is a Montessori school. They’ve taken it upon themselves to make this Biblical insect plague a teachable moment. I’m walking up to the front of the school to check my daughter out for the day. I hear the playful squeals of kids in the back playground. But one little girl, about four years old, is standing out front, looking intently at something in her hands.

The girl holds up her hands to me, showing me the dried leaving of a cicada’s molt, and says, “Look, mister. An exo-skeleton!”

“Why yes,” I say. “That’s exactly right!”

It’s great that instead of being afraid, this girl and all her classmates now have a better appreciation of nature.

This story was featured in our May 2020 roundup!

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Outsmarted By A Five- Or Six-Year-Old

, , , , , , | Right | April 30, 2020

I am stocking an aisle in the grocery store. Our store has a small cafe where children aged five and under eat for free. I overhear a mother talking to her young son.

Mother: “Remember, [Son], we’re pretending you’re five, okay?”

Son: “But, Mommy, I’m six!”

Mother: “Yes, but let’s pretend, okay?”

Son: “Does this mean I don’t need to go to school tomorrow?”

Mother: “What? No! Of course, you need to go to school.”

Son: “But six-year-olds go to school. Five-year-olds stay home and play!”

Mother: “Well, tomorrow, you’ll be six.”

Son: “So, tomorrow is my birthday?!”

Mother: “What? No—”

Son: “Yay! Presents!”

She paid for his meal.

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