Every day I risk my life on the front lines for the people of America. No, I'm not a soldier, nor would I ever compare my job to that of defending the country. I deliver pizzas. I don't mind doing it, it's good, honest work, but it can be a little perilous. I took a rather frightening delivery the other night.
I headed north up a dark street in Murray, a suburb of Salt Lake City. South of me, I saw the inviting glow of lights lining the parking lot of a new apartment complex, one I've delivered to many times. But this delivery was going elsewhere. Ramshackle houses passed me on the left as I drove. Next to me I saw a big white fence, separating this street from the rest of the world. My headlights provided the only light ahead.
My GPS droned on, "Go 500 feet, destination on the left...go 200 feet, destination on the left...destination on the left". I U-turned so I could park on the right side of the street. This had to be the house I was looking for, but they had no identifying mark of any kind on the exterior of the house. The house itself looked old and worn out, like no one had lived there for years. Not a single light showed through the blinds or on the porch, and an old car that had gone its last mile sat silently in the driveway. Anything could have been waiting for me in the darkness.
I took a deep breath, grabbed my heat bag, and walked to the door. If something happened to me here, no one would know about it until it was too late. I knocked. I didn't hear the usual feet scuffling or dog barking. Only silence greeted me. No cars went by on the empty street. I pulled out my cell phone to provide some light, but I still could find no clue that I was at the right house. I knocked a second time, and waited.
Finally, I called the number on the delivery ticket and got a busy signal. I knocked a third time, and called again. Same result. Finally, I got back in my car, locked the doors, and took a deep breath. I called one more time to no avail. Only as I began to drive did I see a woman appear at the doorway, and finally I saw light flooding out from behind the shutters. I hopped out of the car and gave her the pizzas she ordered, my palms sweating. The woman tipped me one dollar.
I drove off, made sure the car doors were locked, and turned up the heat, relieved to be safe in my own car. I felt the cash in my pocket, and considered how much my terror was worth to this woman: one dollar.