WEST ORANGE, NJ—A piping-hot calzone was reported missing from the break room kitchen of a local Enterprise car-rental office Wednesday.
"It was right here a second ago," said sales associate Ben Severance, 27, owner of the sizzling Italian sandwich, which was last seen on the office's break room counter at approximately 1 p.m. "Seriously, who takes a calzone?"
According to an office-wide e-mail sent by Severance, the calzone, a folded-over semicircle of pizza dough containing mozzarella and ricotta cheese, ham, sausage, a variety of vegetables, and a tiny slit cut in the middle of its top fold so its inner contents could be reheated to the same piping-hot temperature as its baked surface, should be "returned immediately."
As of press time, the calzone had not been returned and its current temperature remained unknown.
"All I remember is that I put the calzone in the microwave because I like it piping hot," Severance told reporters as he recounted the chain of events before the turnover's abduction. "Then I took it out of the microwave, placed it on the counter, and walked out of the break room to retrieve a magazine from the front office."
"When I came back, the calzone was gone," Severance continued.
Severance's 1-ounce bag of Wise potato chips and 12-ounce can of Diet Coke were untouched.
According to a crinkled-up receipt from Lenny's, a small Italian eatery located half a mile from the Enterprise office, the calzone was purchased at 10:12 a.m. with Severance's Visa debit card. Upon entering the office approximately 20 minutes later, Severance wrote "BEN'S" on a piece of masking tape with a Sharpie Super Twin Tip permanent marker. He then placed the masking tape on the traditional Italian snack's clear plastic container to convey that the calzone was, in fact, his.
To maintain freshness, Severance left the calzone in the small break room refrigerator for more than three hours, theoretically providing its captors plenty of time to plan the pilferage.
"A piping-hot calzone doesn't just sprout legs and walk off on its own, you know," Severance said. "What kind of office do I work in where I can't turn my head for 10 seconds without worrying about someone taking my calzone? Whoever did this is a real jerk."
Following the seizure of the calzone—which means "pocket, or trouser, sandwich" in English—Severance said he immediately searched the office and asked his eight coworkers and three customers renting vehicles if they had seen anyone leave with a piping-hot calzone in the last 10 minutes. When he was informed that nobody had entered or exited the storefront office with the pizza-like meal, Severance said he was "convinced" that the calzone "was still in the building."
Severance and others in the West Orange area familiar with calzones fear if the lunch item is not found, it will no longer remain piping hot.
"Because of the transfer of thermal energy via heat conduction, the calzone is likely becoming cooler and cooler with each passing minute and could reach room temperature in as little as one hour," said Marty Allegretti, who answers the phone at Lenny's.
When asked if he had any clue as to who would take his piping-hot calzone, Severance said, "No. I don't. I can't think of anyone."
Added Severance: "This is ridiculous."
Calling himself a "realist," Severance stated that he is hoping for the calzone's safe return, but is also preparing for the worst.
"I guess if you are going to take someone else's calzone, it would only make sense to eat it while it's piping hot," Severance said. "This sucks. I was really looking forward to eating that calzone."
With no reports of other piping-hot calzones going missing from other offices throughout the city, the illegal seizure of the stuffed-dough entree appears to be an isolated incident, leaving many of Severance's officemates to speculate that the abduction is part of an ongoing personal feud between Severance and auto-maintenance technician Humberto Ruiz.
Ruiz was unavailable for comment.