"You're worried that of all the things you could be mugged for, they're going to take your pizza?"
It's been little things building. Hangovers after two beers, increasing instances of heartburn, a newfound appreciation for Billy Joel. But I think I officially became old on Monday when I admitted I was scared of teenagers.
But, so far, only when I'm carrying pizza on the subway.
Returning from Motorino on Monday with a Margherita pizza for the office, I was traveling by subway just as school let out. Boisterous clusters of teenagers roamed the streets and gathered on the subway platforms belowground.
And all I could think of was how one of these kids might start something with me—demanding a slice or simply knocking the box from below, lunch-tray-bully style.
When I got back to Slice–Serious Eats HQ and expressed this fear aloud, Ed Levine here thought my worries were ludicrous.
"What? Not your iPod, not your cell phone, not your laptop—you're worried that of all the things you could be mugged for, they're going to take your pizza?"
Yes. Mugged by teenagers. Or panhandlers.
For my pizza.
The way I see it, a pizza-carrying straphanger is a high-value target to both demographics. The stereotypical teen loves pizza and is always hungry (they're still growing, after all), and panhandlers are typically asking for money to buy food (so why not cut out the middleman and simply grab a slice?).
And that's why I hate carrying pizza on the train. I mean, I hate carrying food on the train, but pizza especially. There's no way to conceal what you're carrying. And if the pizza's hot and loaded with lots of high-quality Parmigiano, its aroma wafts through the car, tempting passengers.
The Solution, Sort Of
I've developed a bit of a strategy for dealing—if I can get a seat. As long as I'm carrying my messenger bag with me, I can sit, place the pizza box on my lap, and simply sling the bag over it, disguising the box a bit. And this is actually the easiest configuration for stacking all that cargo anyway.
This protects me from teenagers, but I probably still have a bit of a soft heart when it comes to panhandlers. I'm afraid I probably would give up my pizza if a homeless person asked, and thus, no pizza for the office and none to scan for a C.R.U.S.T.™ analysis.
Ed is probably right. I shouldn't fear a pizza mugging. The teenagers on the streets and in the subway seemed more concerned with flirting and gossiping. I was their age once. I know what they're thinking: "The last thing that weird, fat old dude needs is more pizza."