Smokey Jones of Alexandria doesn't want you to get him wrong. He loves pizza, and eats it often. But he is one of several Levey regulars to point out a rain cloud that's forming over the pizza business. In its haste to deliver pies before they get cold, pizza deliverers have become some of the most dangerous drivers in creation.
"In the last year," says Smokey, "I have come close to having at least eight accidents with pizza drivers, most of the time with my 7-year-old boy with me.
"They go through stop signs, red lights and have no regard for anyone on the road. And now that they have a war going on about who can deliver pizza the fastest or get it free, speeding is on the list."
I haven't actually seen these guys Evel Knieveling around town. But in their eyes, I have seen what I can only call automotive lust.
I was crossing the street in Silver Spring the other day, and I happened to walk in front of a pizza deliverer, who was waiting for the light to change. This guy gave new meaning to the phrase, "champing at the bit."
He was gunning the motor, banging his hand on the steering wheel and ramming the gearshift in and out of first. If he had started frothing at the mouth, it wouldn't have surprised me.
I suppose that neither Smokey nor I should be surprised about this. After all, quite literally, time is money in the pizza business.
Many companies charge drivers for pizzas that don't make it to doorsteps within the promised number of minutes. Other companies fire drivers the first time they're late, regardless of circumstances.
But a check of the area's police departments turns up no one who can say that pizza deliverers are any worse at driving than anyone else.
"I'd put truckers and bus drivers a lot higher -- I mean lower," said a D.C. police spokesman.
"I can't think of a single officer who's mentioned pizza deliverers as a problem," added a Fairfax police spokesman.
The companies themselves say the same. For example, Frank Meeks, owner of the local Domino's franchise, which dominates the pizza delivery business in Washington, says there hasn't been a serious accident involving a Domino's driver in the four years the company has existed.
"Safety is our main concern," said Meeks. He said that's an easy credo to live up to because Domino's does not zing drivers in the wallet for late pizzas. Nor does Domino's hire drivers who are not at least 18, and who have not undergone 14 hours of driver training -- six of those hours at the hands of the Virginia State Police.
If a speeding ticket happens to wander into the hands of a Domino's driver? The guilty party is immediately taken off the road and given an inside job, Meeks said.
Well, maybe it's just you and me, Smokey. Somehow I don't think so, but maybe those pepperoni fumes are getting to me.
Good guy award to Eric Lynch, who saw a mess and turned it into a souffle.
Eric is an usher at the Roth's Parkway movie theaters in Rockville. The other night, in one of the Parkway theaters, something called "Adventures in Babysitting" was playing.
By all accounts, this movie is a bigger bomb than anything the Strategic Air Command carries around. But Grace Park of Silver Spring and Robb Wong of Rockville thought from the title that it might be funny. So they went one night, and paid $2.50 per ticket.
All it took was 10 minutes for Grace and Robb to decide to leave the adventures to someone else. They left the theater, and ducked into the one next door, where "Robocop" was playing.
Ten minutes later, Grace and Robb had given up on this flick, too. "It was so violent, I couldn't believe it," Grace said. "I mean, people getting their hands shot off, and other people being shot 500 times. And some of the people in the audience were giggling about this!"
By now, Grace and Robb were more than a little upset. And as they headed for the front door, they passed Eric, and he noticed.
He asked if something was wrong. Grace explained (in far more direct language than I'll use here) that "Adventures" and "Robocop" had fallen short of expectations.
Most ushers would have said, "Gee, sorry." Or, "That's the way it goes."
Eric gave Grace and Robb free passes to return any time they want for a show that's more to their taste.
"Isn't that great?" Grace asked me. Every question should be so easy.
John Perini of Greenbelt says that even Cinderella had a motto.
"What was it?" I innocently inquire.
"The shoe must go on," John replies.