The Time Matthew Dellavedova Got Promoted at Hardee’s
A blue-collar work ethic, rewarded.
Matthew Dellavedova and I went to Hardee’s one time because I wanted to interview him in Milwaukee (where he plays now), and I did the research to confirm Wisconsin doesn’t have Carl’s Jr. (it has Hardee’s), and that’s the kind of realistic detail you need here.
Why he insisted on Hardee’s as the locus for an interview is immaterial. What is material is what happens there: events that will teach me more about Dellavedova and myself than any questions ever could.
He meets me outside in the parking lot and says, “G’day, mate” because he is Australian. Also because he is Australian, I assume, in spite of all I know about him, that he might be chill. But it turns out he is not chill.
We enter Hardee’s which, again, is a restaurant we went to that exists in Wisconsin. It is not a Carl’s Jr. because they don’t have those there, and I did the research.
I pull the glass door open and stand aside for him to enter because I am thoughtful in this story. Before I have time to process what’s happening, he’s rocketing, horizontal, through the doorway and onto the floor, diving headlong into knees, ankles, canes and Rascal scooters (we’re at Hardee’s), skidding across the burnt-orange tile with speed if not immediately discernible purpose, screeching to a halt beneath the pop fountain (they call it pop in Wisconsin). He upends more than eight (so…nine) patrons, children are crying and nobody’s quite sure what to make of the tangled mass of Midwest humanity writhing on the floor.
The scene is unsettling. Delly, prone, extremities decorated with fresh floor burns, springs up, satisfied. “G’day, Ma’am,” he says to a nearby lady because he is polite and also Australian. “You dropped your change.”
Shaken, I realize he is oblivious to the carnage—a moral relativist for whom no amount of collateral damage is too great when accumulated in the execution of a hustle play. It also dawns on me that, paradoxically, the bodies he’s maimed are consequential to him. They are offerings to the only God he worships: this guy.
Anyway, Dellavedova then holds out a dime, offering it to the female customer clutching a tray just outside the perimeter of his destruction. She has come to Hardee’s for the familiar, affordable graymeat. She did not expect any of this. Mouth agape, she takes a moment to collect herself and replies, “Actually, no, I…I paid with a gift car…”
“You’re welcome,” he interrupts, smile beaming with the pure light of altruism.
“Gritty,” one mangled patron intones.
“So…unselfish,” another wheezes. He’s on the bottom of the human-wreckage pile. He has baptized them, I realize. This is Cleveland all over again. They’re grateful.
A slow clap begins, but another voice cuts through the noise. “Render unto me that man,” it booms, buffeting the air with an unmistakable authority, the kind that only comes from emperors, kings and regional directors at Hardee’s
Matthew Dellavedova is promoted to shift manager on the spot.
“You saw it with your common person eyes. He simply outworked everyone,” Ignatius Peregrine, Regional Director of Hardee’s, later explains, the gravitas of his office bathing me as he speaks. He, of course, doesn’t have to justify his decision because I am, we are, nothing compared to him.
He deigns to speak further.
“Bully for me and my vast Midwestern Hardee’s empire that I was here on a routine graymeat and swampchicken inspection,” he says, adjusting his resplendent hat because he is wearing a resplendent hat that needed adjusting. “I insist on doing those personally, despite my obviously considerable wealth and venerable office.”
I nod. He definitely looks wealthy and venerable.
“If not for such fortuitous timing, that jewel of a man might be shift-managing the Arby’s next door. And from there, who can say? Shift-managing the world, most indubitably.”
I am really impressed by Ignatius Peregrine.
“Perish the thought,” he concludes before his cadre of litter-bearers hoist him skyward and transport him to the waiting helicopter on the roof.
Though only a few minutes have passed since Shift Manager Dellavedova and I came through the doors, much has changed. While I was talking to his eminence, Il Peregrino, Dellavedova buffed every stainless steel surface in the kitchen to a blinding sheen. He did it with spit and gumption.
There is also a pit in the center of the floor he dove across earlier—dug by his own hands—into which Delly is depositing the bodies. They are all still alive, but none object to being buried. They’re that awestruck by his work ethic.
Admittedly, I’m impressed, too. I get it now.
I order the graymeat.