Stuff You Should Know

The Half-Assed Gourmand #8: Gumby’s Pizza edition


It hasn’t been a very productive work week here at Rancho Yesteryear. My particular area of Athens lost power on Wednesday morning, and when it finally came back on I had to deal with restoring the juice in my own domicile because the outage ended up tripping a few circuit breakers…not to mention dealing with a power surge extension that had finally given up the ghost and was responsible for my not being able to restore power to the guest bedroom, where my computer is set up. (To make matters worse, I plugged the protector into an outlet near my microwave to see if was still working and ended up taking out the kitchen lights as well.) Now, I called the company I rent the apartment from and asked if they could send somebody out to help me with the problem. What I did not know is that I had actually fixed the problem myself—I just carelessly forgot to check the power again after I re-tripped the breakers—so the guy basically came out here on a fool’s errand, and I felt bad about that. It did, however, produce one golden moment of hilarity when the maintenance man found my surge protector and asked me if it was the one that was fried. I replied, “Yes, it is,” but before I could stop him he plugged it into another outlet…resulting in taking out the power to my television. (No biggie, I just had to re-trip that breaker.)

I don’t normally endorse the concept of reality shows, but you couldn’t create a more entertaining one if you just basically set me loose with a household problem for a half-hour and waited for the wacky complications to ensue. I am notoriously inept when it comes to fixing this sort of thing, which is one of the reasons why when somebody scoffs at the obstacles in a Three Stooges short I’m always quick to defend Curly, Larry and Moe. (“Hey…that could happen!”) I’m planning on calling this program The Dumbf**k Handyman…though for obvious reasons it may undergo a name change by the time it eventually gets to the small screen. I used to feel a little self-conscious about my inability to resolve the simplest of household setbacks, but when Jim Neibaur told me that he puts his house up for sale every time a light bulb burns out I felt a bit better.

sinkThursday presented a passel of new problems: not only was the bathroom toilet clogged again, but so was my kitchen sink. I went at both of them with a plunger (one that my father purchased at Lowe’s the last time it happened) but my efforts proved to be textbook examples of utter futility. So I call the landlords again and had them make out another work order; but when my father came by on one of his TV-inspired surprise visits he grabbed the plunger (one-handed!) and within minutes had both sink and terlet restored to normalcy. (I joked to the landlords that they ought to put him on the payroll, particularly when the person I spoke to seemed genuinely surprised that he was able to solve the problem. “He fixed it? Why, we were convinced he was a handyman savant…”)

The only problem I had on Friday was that I had to tell the maintenance guy from Wednesday that the sink and toilet were fixed—and this kind of ticked me off because I called the renters to ask them to tear up the work order. Maintenance Dude just sighed and remarked, “Yeah, they do this a lot. No communication in that office.”

gumbypizzaAnyway, I seem to have strayed a bit from the original subject of this post, which is another review of some of the exquisite cuisine to be found in the city of Athens. I mentioned some time ago in an obituary on Gumby creator Art Clokey that his Claymation character had become the mascot of a series of take-out jernts specializing in pizza, wings, subs, etc. and that these franchises were usually open until 3:00 in the a.m. to accommodate the munchies brought on by the activities engaged in by your typical college student. I thought with the kitchen sink clogged that preparing dinner would be a bit of a hassle so I decided to splurge a bit and order some eatables in honor of the fallen animator.

If you go to the main Gumby’s website and click on the UGA link for ordering info, you’re immediately whisked away to another site entitled…which shows you the menu and allows you to place an order online. Since I had a bit of difficulty in deciding, I went with an order of pepperoni rolls, a 12” chicken-and-bacon sub, and an order of chicken wings with fries. A pretty hefty requisition, to be sure—but I figured I could nosh on these items for the next two-or-three days and that it would relieve me of any kitchen duties for a while…particularly since the weather forecast called for snow. So I set up an account at Campusfood, and ordered the grub.

I had a sneaking suspicion that I would get a call from the Gumby’s people (a lot of these places call you to make certain your order is legit and you’re not just blowing sunshine up their skirt) so I had my cordless phone handy when I received the phone call. The gentleman I spoke to on the other end drops the bomb on me without pussyfooting around—he tells me I live outside the delivery area, so I will not be receiving any of Gumby’s grub anytime in the future.

Fortuitously, I’ve experienced this sort of situation before and so I took the time to research this issue before placing the order. I went to Google maps to see how far away my humble environs at Castle Yesteryear were from the pizza place, and Google clocked it at 4.4 miles. Most of the places around here won’t deliver beyond a five-mile limit, so I figured I was pretty safe on that. But the only delivery restrictions—according to Campusfood—was that Gumby’s wouldn’t deliver to the Jennings Mill Parkway section of town…and since I don’t live there, I figured everything was copacetic.

crispychickenwingsSilly me. The guy on the phone still continues to tell me “no dice.” So I tell him—and I wasn’t trying to be an asshole, I was just pointing out the hideously obvious—that the Jennings Mill restriction is the only thing present on the website, and he responds that I need to take that up with the Campusfood people. He bids me a good night, and cuts me off.

I guess I don’t have to explain how much that cheesed me off. I went back to the main Gumby’s site and anything I click on regarding delivery information leads back to So as I see it, they’ve pretty much ceded that issue to Campusfood, which gives me a way to argue, in a legal-like fashion, that they need to assume responsibility for making sure that info gets to Campusfood. Bottom line: this guy thinks he won the argument, and it is my sworn duty to show him that he’s full of shit.

I call Gumby’s back, and this time a woman answers the phone. I explain to her as quickly as I can the situation, but she’s going to stick with what works in the past—they don’t deliver out this way, and I should just deal with it. But I’m beginning to wear her down with logic and reason, and I can tell by the tone of her voice that she’s regretting even answering the phone. Finally, she blurts out the real reason why they won’t deliver out this way (and I knew why, I just wanted to hear her say it): my neighborhood is considered a “dangerous one”—one of their delivery drivers was robbed not too long ago, and they’ve assured the rest of their crack Gumby’s pizza crew that no one has to be out this way if they don’t want to be.

chickenbaconsub“Sounds like you need to add that to your website,” I joked dryly. Then I got serious with her: “Look, ma’am—I’m sorry that one of your people was victimized by another individual unaware that the weed of crime bears bitter fruit. But that’s just something you have to deal with when you’re running a business like this. I’ve worked on and off as a night auditor for hotels most of my life, and I sympathize. But writing off an area for delivery due to that kind of racist fear is just plain wrong.”

There’s a dramatic pause. Then she puts me back on the phone with the guy I talked to originally. He tells me not to sweat it; he’ll deliver the order himself—he asks me for a few details to complete my order, and then arrived at my domicile a half-hour later. I should probably point out at this point that this is not the first time I’ve run into this kind of thing; I had a guy from Loco’s once give me the same kind of static…but I didn’t press him on the details because he brought my order and told me this purely as an afterthought. (“I made an exception here, but next time…”) He also cheerily told me that if I were to call during their non-peak hours they wouldn’t be as shirty about delivering—which essentially means that if I don’t mind eating lunch at 3pm the situation is squared. Frankly, I was a bit surprised at the turn of events re: Gumby’s; I can understand someone being reticent about venturing into certain neighborhoods but this is Jaw-Ja, ferchrissake—where if you’re not packing heat it’s considered bad manners.

FrenchfriesAs to the grub: well, it’s not bad but it’s also not worth the hassle. Their pepperoni rolls are probably the best thing on the menu (though they’re a tad doughy and they skimp on the pepperoni); the wings are good (though you might just want to order them separately—I got them with French fries and the spuds were ice-cold by the time they arrived) and I’ve yet to run across a take-out place with substandard subs (I make little joke). (I’ve always believed that the sign of a truly awful restaurant is one that can’t even make a decent ham-and-cheese sub.) If you want a great pepperoni roll, however, you need to either beg my mother to make some or visit West Virginia—preferably Clarksburg or Fairmont—as the pepperoni roll is one of the Mountain State’s great contributions to pop culture, along with Don Knotts, Brad Paisley and women with honkin’ big hair.

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