I once called a pizza place. It was a pizza place I do not intend on calling again.
Why you ask? Because after the phone rang for awhile I was connected to an employee that was not a part of that particular store, but rather of the entire franchise. I noticed something seemed off. Perhaps it was that the person on the other end of the line was asking me if I was picking my order up from a store an extra 10 minutes away—a store I had not originally called.
Confused as to how this had happened, I directed them to the correct pizza place and continued with my order. I then ran into another road block: I couldn’t order the kind of pizza I always ordered.
The employee was mildly insistent that I could not get a pizza that was both plump and had extra melted cheese. She wasn’t aggressive or anything—there was just a slight something in her voice that made me feel a bit stupid.
But I knew that this pizza did in fact exist because of all the waiters and waitresses who had taken the same order without wincing and were able to explain it back to me before passing it on to the cook.
When the lady on the other end realized I was right, she apologized and finished up my order.
Technology is great, but sometimes it removes us from community and experience. We’d rather watch a church service online than attend it in person and have to get to know new people. We’d rather call someone out in an email than do it face to face because we can hide behind our words and guard ourselves from their hurt facial expressions. We’d prefer to send money to the broken and downtrodden than get down in the dirt of their lives with them and help them up.
We choose to be the people who know little about the pizza they’re selling because in the end, we don’t really work in the restaurant. We don’t really smell the sauce and the crust and we don’t know how to space the toppings out across the slices appropriately. We may not even really know what it tastes like—or it may be a taste long forgotten.
We’re not aware that the pizza can be both plump and extra cheesy.
Perhaps transcendence doesn’t happen when a person’s consciousness is collected up into the atmosphere or downloaded into a computer. Perhaps it starts when we decide that we can exist outside of physical community. Perhaps it starts when we habitually observe life online and abstain from plugging into a body of people.
In order to know pizza, you have to be around it and the people who know it best. And if you’re bringing it to someone else, you need to be ready to walk the path between the kitchen and the table.