The Sizzle of Life

 

The aroma of the pizza draws customers in, but Amanda Saeed's welcoming demeanor keeps them there.

The aroma of the pizza draws customers in, but Amanda Saeed’s welcoming demeanor keeps them there.

BY Katie Rosenblad

“79!” she calls out as the order is up. And then, quickly back to the ovens to pull out another slice for the next customer. She works quickly to take and fill orders simultaneously. Politely and warmly she welcomes customers with a “Hi! How’s it going?” Gives them a chance to look over the three rows of pizza in the glass display case, and then meets them at the cash register where she takes their order and asks a co-worker to get their pizza ready. “81!” yells the co-worker.

Behind the cash register of Sizzle Pie in downtown Eugene stands a young woman dressed in a royal blue blouse, a multi-colored beige cardigan, black framed glasses, and her hair in a top knot above her head. Many customers probably assume she is a full time student at the University of Oregon, which she is, but none of them probably realize she is also a full time employee working 30 hours a week. Little do they know, in her attempt to balance the two, she is running off of three to four hours of sleep.

Amanda Saeed works full time to support herself as a junior majoring in English. And because of her busy schedule she struggles to get anything more than four hours of sleep each night, often relying on short naps between classes. She says, “It’s a struggle to get sleep, for sure. But, I find time.” If Saeed can’t find the time she turns to some of her favorite drinks such as black iced tea with a little bit of lemon or black iced coffee. On the rougher days Saeed will even quickly down a five-hour energy drink with hopes to keep herself going. She says she tries to avoid sugar in her drinks because “it’s just gonna make me crash, and that’s happened before.”

While rest would be nice, Saeed explains crashing isn’t an option for her because she doesn’t have time for it in her schedule. At the beginning of a new term Saeed says she collects all of the syllabuses from her classes and builds herself a detailed itinerary that leaves little time for anything other than school or work. “Everything is usually the same, like every week I usually just go through the motions and schedule – and that’s what vacations are for,” she says. Saeed builds the schedule to keep up with work and even creates a workout schedule too. Working out is something that she enjoys doing and says, “I gotta have time to do things that I like.”

Her structured schedule leaves her little time for socializing, but Saeed says she manages to fit it in while she’s at work. “I love my staff,” she says. “We have so much fun together here.” There’s the occasional little quip back-and-forth with a burst of laughter in the back and then another number rings out to announce someone’s order is ready. Everyone is hustling to fill orders but yet they still maintain an ease about their movements and a carry a smile to every customer who walks through the door. The servers and the cooks occasionally even let their heads bob to the music playing in the background.

Sometimes the songs they listen to inspire Saeed and her staff to create specials of the day like the “Veggie Bomb” that she says is based off the “Cherry Bomb” song by The Runaways. She finds it fun to think about cool music and incorporate it into their food.

Saeed’s coworker Stephen says not only is getting to “really know and enjoy each other’s personalities” a great part of their job, but so are the people. He says, “You meet a lot of big characters. It’s always nice to see people when they come out. No one is ever angry when they’re eating pizza.”

They both agree their favorite pizza on the menu is the Hawkwind pizza; a pie with cheese, spinach, cranberries and almonds. Saeed says, “I just thought it was so like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Coming from San Francisco I thought I’d seen it all with food. But, I’ve never seen cranberries on a pizza. So I tried it, and I fell in love with it.”

Much like she fell in love with the pizza, Saeed has fallen in love with the city of Eugene. She says it was tough moving to Eugene all on her own and she almost gave up in the beginning. She even considered moving back home but ultimately decided to stay. “I’m glad. I’ve been here two years now, so it’s nice,” she says. “It’s awesome.”

For now, Saeed continues to stand at the cash register filling orders with her mind wandering to the future – a future where she can discuss her favorite author F. Scott Fitzgerald and enjoy reading the classics such as The Great Gatsby.

“93!” Her mind quickly snaps back to the present and off to the next customer she goes.

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