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Nineteen year-old Dominick worked at the pizza joint a block away from the thrift store I was managing and needed court ordered community service .

Dom was angry, impatient, and didn’t really care about our cause, but he needed his job, so he sucked it up and came to my door.

I was des-per-ate for any able-bodied human to help me on the box truck I would borrow to pick up donated furniture, our highest ticketed items in the store. (I had a non-existent budget, but you knew that already, didn’t you?)

Dom agreed to spend a day or two on a ride along and help me haul the furniture. I always made a route to save gas and the day Dom went with me, we talked, or really, he talked and I listened. He told me about growing up in the area, his brothers, some in trouble, his sisters, his mom, his deceased father, his struggles in school. He told me about making pizzas, how he wanted to own a business and gave me some tips on fishing in local retention ponds.

One of our stops was at a woman’s home. She had donated a few knick-knacks before, and called me to say she had some nice furniture to donate. (I only picked up furniture; I asked that all other donations be dropped off)

We arrived at her upscale house and she handed me a plastic bag containing some clothes. “I don’t have furniture for you, but,” she said, “I bought a new mattress set and I’m giving my old one to a friend who lives down the street. Would you mind taking it there?”

I held my tongue, rolled my eyes, said, “fine,” and Dom and I put the pristine mattress and box springs into the truck and headed down the road. When back in the cab, the door shut, I let loose, fuming, literally running at the mouth at the arrogance of this woman who was using a charity to deliver her goods.

Dom just sat there, watching me, my hands flying off the wheel as I vented my anger. He said nothing.

The friend was waiting for us, all smiles, and I kept my mouth shut, gritting my teeth against the hail of words that threatened to burst forth. We retrieved the box spring and she directed us to a bedroom where we deposited it on the empty bedframe.

We went back for the mattress. I could feel Dom’s eyes watching my clenched jaw as we picked it up and brought it inside, laying it atop the box spring, the friend gazing contentedly at her new treasure.

I stepped away, muttered “we’ll be off now,” to the woman and turned to see Dom walk over the mattress, his dirty boot leaving the most perfect outline on the white cover. The woman’s eyes went wide and I pretended I didn’t see it, while scurrying away. (kinda like when I’d notice the marketing director coming down the hall.) Dom, chin high, sauntered along, without a care in the world.

We got back in the cab and I started the engine. Dom stared straight ahead, an imperceptible smile flickering over his lips. I drove in silence for a few streets, processing in my head what to say to him and then I bust out laughing.

Although I sweated for days, expecting a call from the CEO, none came. The lady never donated again. Dom finished his community service and I signed off on it.

But I did start ordering pizza from Dom’s pizza shop.