Pizza Chain Chaplain

FEEL GOOD

This from the NY Times:

Staff Chaplain Sets a Restaurant Chain Apart
By SAMUEL G. FREEDMAN

ORANGE PARK, Fla. — Midway through the dinner rush at the Loop Pizza Grill on a November night, the Rev. Becci Curtis, graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary and ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A., pulled a disposable glove onto her right hand and plunged it into a container of shredded romaine. Her mission, at the moment, was to assemble a Gorgonzola salad.

As she worked, adding the croutons and cheese, Ms. Curtis chatted with the waitress beside her, April Mechler. They talked about the Thanksgiving just past, about how Ms. Mechler’s homemade mac-and-cheese had turned out. Then they talked about Ms. Mechler’s dream of becoming a journalist and her application for a summer internship at The Florida Times-Union, the daily paper in nearby Jacksonville.

Ms. Mechler stepped away from the salad station to deliver an order, and Ms. Curtis walked through the swinging door into the kitchen, spotting Richard Calalang amid the grills and deep fryers. She knew his dream, too: to move to California and work for a catering company that serviced film studios and even the Playboy Mansion. She also knew his private worry about fitting in on the West Coast: He did not know how to surf.

It was all part of Ms. Curtis’s job, the conversing and the confiding and the salad-making, too. A lifetime as an observant Christian and a top-rank education in divinity had led her, improbably or providentially or both, to being the spiritual leader of a pizza joint. She worked four hours a week for $10 an hour, plus the occasional tip, and on her flowered blouse she wore a name tag that identified her official position: chaplain.

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