This morning, as I wrote in Triumphs & Tribulations XV, I noticed how the countdown on my posts now read 3 DAYS LEFT UNTIL 30TH BIRTHDAY. I’m reminded of the countdown to my 16th birthday that began on October 3, 2000 and lasted until I actually turned 16…3 weeks later. Reading over those exciting 3 weeks between my 1st journal entry and my 16th birthday brought about what happened on October 20, 2000. That was when I walked into Domino’s Pizza on 6th Avenue South in Downtown Birmingham, changing my life forever. In today’s post to The 24 To 30 feature, I’ll cover the story of Steve Hall…
THE BACKGROUND. I met Steve on a Friday afternoon just before my 16th birthday. Having been denied an opportunity to work at the McDonald’s across the street from UAB Hospital because too many of my classmates already worked there, I decided to give Domino’s a try. I filled out the application in the store and the franchisee himself came up to take it. The franchisee happened to be Steve Hall. On that particularly day, a childhood friend and longtime next door neighbor happened to be working there and she vouched for me to Steve. He hired me on the spot…at $5.50 an hour, more than the $5.15 I put on the application. He asked if I could start the following day but I held off until the Monday after my birthday so I could enjoy my last days before diving into work. When I returned a few days later to start, Steve was there and he introduced me to everybody and showed me some of the things I’d be doing. I remember the first time I saw him slap a pizza. I was amazed at how fast and precise he was. I worked the evening shifts so I didn’t see Steve as often as he usually worked alongside the morning/afternoon crew but when he did stay later, he always asked me how was I doing. I always told him I was fine and that the work was fun and easy. I think he really saw it was coming to me easy and that I actually had pride in it because he soon asked me if I was willing to close on Friday and Saturday nights. I didn’t have anything else to do so I jumped on it. Soon after, I won Employee of the Quarter and my pay got bumped up from $5.50 an hour to $7 an hour. Steve was an alum of the University of Mississippi and a die-hard fan of the school’s sports teams. Because of that, our relationship blossomed. When he came to help us out on the makeline, we rarely talked about making pizzas…we talked about school, sports, and life after Domino’s Pizza. I think he sincerely wanted to see me succeed. I worked for him from October 2000 all the way up to May 2003.
THE MOMENT OF IMPACT. The moment of impact with Steve occurred on August 7, 2001. While working my normal 4pm-10pm shift on a Tuesday evening, Steve asked me if I had any issues or objections to leading the Saturday morning shift. For about 3 months preceding that conversation, I worked Saturdays with one of the other managers as extra help. But she had started school or some other venture that took Saturday mornings off her table so Steve asked me to cover it. I accepted it with not a second thought and just like that, inside of my first year at Domino’s Pizza, I went from washing dishes to running an entire shift. It was my first venture at real responsibility.
HOW IT GOT ME TO 30. Steve Hall is one of the few people I’ll never forget in this life of mine. He gave me my first job…paved the way for me to get paid and become a tax-paying, productive citizen of society. The opportunity he gave me by working in his store allowed me to learn a lot about work ethic and becoming a master at a given craft. I eventually became a premier pizza maker—actually, I still am a premier pizza maker—and the seeds sown through him hiring me have harvested in me being the type of worker I am today.