As the Pizza Burns by Nick Powers is a sharply, acerbic and satirical look at the lives of those low-paid and overworked fast food workers that most of us take for granted. Through the eyes of Tony, a shift supervisor at The Pizza Corp, we are reminded that service workers at fast food restaurants are not mindless robots, but that they have lives, problems and difficulties just like the rest of us. Faced with unreasonable and angry customers who expect everything right there and right now, the fast-food workers are required to be polite, understanding and conciliatory even when every fibre of their being is screaming out to punch the arrogant, demanding customer between the eyes. Tony, like all his co-workers understands that “nobody works for Pizza Corp out of choice”. For Tony, with a pregnant wife, who also is suffering from cancer, life is one long battle just to keep the demanding creditors, especially the medical bills at bay. He has no choice, he cannot afford to lose his job and he desperately needs to get promoted to a salaried position. To do so, Tony knows he has to tow the corporate line and play by the corporate rules, as ridiculous and as unyielding as they may seem at times.
As someone who has fortunately never found the need to work for a fast-food restaurant, As the Pizza Burns is a real eye-opener and a reminder to me to never take these hard-working, usually young people for granted. Nick Powers introduces us to a wide range of diverse characters who all add something to the mix that makes up the Pizza Corp team. The author’s style is simple, straightforward and very easy to read. I read this entire book in one sitting simply because it flowed so effortlessly. Tony is a character that is easy to identify with. He looks to the future, when things will work out for the good for him and his family, but realises for now, he must do everything within his power to ensure his success at Pizza Corp and guarantee the stability of his family, but at what cost. The author clearly drew on his own experiences in writing this fictionalised version of life in a fast-food restaurant and perhaps that was what made the narrative so real and so starkly sad and equally funny in places. An author has achieved something special when he or she is able to open the reader’s eyes to something different to that which we take for granted and Powers has done this in this funnily sad story. I take my hat off to him and highly recommend this read to all.