ELGIN, IL—A customer's repeated attempts to complain to the store manager about Mama Z's Pizza employee Matt Wheaton were successfully thwarted by Wheaton, restaurant sources confirmed Monday.
"At about 10 p.m., this guy calls up bitching about how he got sausage on the pizza we delivered, going all apeshit because he's, like, a vegetarian or something," the 20-year-old Wheaton told reporters while mopping behind the counter. "So I was like, 'Tough break, man'—you know, trying to sympathize with him. But that just totally pissed him off for some reason."
Wheaton said he attempted to determine whether the customer, Gary Marchese of 344 Gloria Street, could "deal" with the pizza as is or if he wanted to go through the trouble of having another one delivered.
"He got all mad about that, as if I was insulting him by saying he should just pick the sausage balls off," Wheaton said. "He told me that even if he picked them off, the meat juice was still all over the pizza. Finally, I was like, 'Okay. What the fuck. I'll send the driver out with another one right away, sir.'"
An hour and a half later, Wheaton answered the phone to find Marchese, 54, inquiring as to the whereabouts of his replacement pizza. He informed Marchese that "someone" must have forgotten to put in the order.
"So [Marchese] says, 'Well, Matt, you are the person I spoke with, aren't you?'" Wheaton said. "Right then and there, I knew this guy was gonna be trouble, remembering my name like that. Sure enough, he cuts loose with, 'Could I please speak to the manager? Perhaps he can help me get my money back.'"
Wheaton said he wasn't fooled by the customer's request. "That guy didn't just want his money back," he said. "He wanted to rat on my ass."
Though manager Vance Endries was in the back of the store facing dollar bills, Wheaton told the irate customer that he had stepped out for a few minutes "to go to the bank or something."
"Normally, I wouldn't care if somebody bitches me out to the boss," Wheaton said, "but after skipping work twice last week, I was an ass hair from getting canned."
Vowing to call back later, Marchese asked for Wheaton's last name. Wheaton told him it was Jones. As an added protective measure, for the remainder of his shift, Wheaton answered the phone with an accent somewhere between French and Jamaican. Though Marchese did not call again, he showed up in person the following day.
"This guy comes in and is standing by the door sort of checking everyone out," Wheaton said. "Then I hear him ask Katie [Sullivan] if the manager is in. I knew it had to be that guy from the night before. This time, Vance really was gone, but I ran to the back and got Sid."
Though only a dishwasher, Sid Bricken, a 42-year-old recovering alcoholic and the oldest member of the general staff, was someone Wheaton believed could pass for a manager. Bricken listened to the customer complain about Wheaton for nearly 10 minutes while nodding sympathetically.
"I told the guy I'd put Matt on probation, and I also gave him a bunch of gift certificates and a two-liter bottle of whatever soda he wanted," Bricken said. "He wanted to keep complaining, but I told him I had to go do some manager stuff in the back."
"[Marchese] thought he could outsmart me," said Wheaton, opening an industrial-sized can of sliced black olives. "Well, think again, dude. Think again."