I sit here today and I cannot get thoughts of the news I heard late Saturday night out of my head. The owner of one of my favorite pizza restaurants was shot and killed in a robbery. It wasn’t in the dark of night – it was at 6:15 on a warm, bright sunny evening. It wasn’t even like the register would have been loaded with money. The restaurant is tiny (it seats 35), does a lot of take-out business, and is only open from 4-8 pm with an extra hour on the weekends. All the details of the armed robbery have not yet emerged, but they don’t have to for me or anyone else to come to the conclusion: what a senseless act.
News like this shakes me to my core for many reasons. A son, a father, a husband, a community member has been taken. Richard Evans was a sweet man. He would wax eloquently about his pizza crust and the importance of how he cooked a pizza pie a certain way. If you were getting your pizza to go, he would recommend half-baked because the trapped steam from the hot pizza in the box would create a water vapor, causing a soggy crust. Pizzas were made to order and his ingredients were fresh. The man was serious about the quality of his pizza.
We stumbled upon his restaurant accidentally. David and I were looking to kill time while Phoebe was at basketball practice and found the restaurant through a GPS search. It’s a BYOB restaurant, giving it an extra dose of charm with the dine-in upstairs. I was at the height of my anxiety/panic/social phobia issues so it was perfect. We chatted with Richard about his world travels, his family, the business, great pizza, and God, and my shoulders relaxed just a little that day. The restaurant and Richard’s easy-going humanity made me feel like a normal member of society.
We pledged to come back and we did, even celebrating David’s and Lydia’s birthdays in January at Cosmic Pizza in his family’s added-on, newly- renovated dining area he was so proud to sit his customers in. He was committed to the community and in it for the long haul.
I am glad we took the time to visit with Richard every time we went in to eat. And I am glad he took the time to share a part of himself with us. And now, each time I think, wow, we could have been at the restaurant last night, I push the thought from my mind. David and I did go out last night for dinner. We chose to share a plate of fish and chips at another local eatery, Molly Malone’s. I am trying to monitor my dairy intake, so Cosmic Pizza didn’t make the list of choices. So it was that I found myself dipping a crunchy piece of Cincinnati’s best beer-battered fish into my malt vinegar instead of biting into a piece of true New York style pizza as Richard Evans was shot multiple times, fled his restaurant and died outside.
His wife worked there with him; his children were there sometimes too in the playroom in the back. I keep thinking of them. I also keep pondering how so often in life we are on the go, on the run and we are such nameless, faceless people to each other that we couldn’t even identify one another in a line-up. His death makes me even more resolved to keep slowing life down, to keep taking the time to connect and hear the stories of the people around me.
Life doesn’t happen in a vacuum. I don’t want the roaring noise of my own life to cause me to selfishly block out and ignore the lives around me. We can allow our own concerns, needs and wants to suck all the time out of our day if we aren’t careful. If the restaurant stays open, I will not allow this act of violence to keep me away, to keep me afraid. It’s scary when bad things happen and you think, I could have been there, that could have been me, but it wasn’t and so you continue doing what Richard can no longer do here on earth, LIVE!
So I encourage you, go out today and meet one new person somewhere you stop frequently and really engage in conversation, in this life we have been given with them. So maybe you will never have dinner together or be bosom friends, but at least you will have spent a little time as you breathe in and out, living life together a little more personally. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about?