Nobody tol J.R. Annecelli that delivering pizza would be a piece of cake. But when a robber marched him out of a Domino's store at gunpoint last week, he decided it might be time to seek another career.
It was never like this back home in North Carolina.
"Where I come from, if you gave your car away and defused a dangerous situation, you'd be a hero," he said last week, five days after the robber drove away with his car.
Instead, he lost three days of pay and cashed in his savings to pay the $500 deductible on his auto insurance, all without a kind word from his employer.
"Crime is crime, but the real crime is nobody cares or does anything about it," he said. "I'm just shocked at how desensitized all the people I work with are."
In fact, he said, in the course of the minute it took him to flee the robber, everything was virtually back to normal.
"One of the managers was on the phone with 911, one of the girls was calling her boyfriend and everybody else was making pizzas," he said.
Annecelli, 30, said the store manager had told him to surrender his vehicle, a 1981 Honda Accord, when the robber demanded a getaway car as the employees huddled on the floor of the store on the night of Sept. 16.
The gunman then ordered him out to the parking lot and into the driver's seat in the mistaken belief that the car was equipped with a stick shift, Annecelli said. As the robber took his seat on the passenger side, Annecelli bolted back into the store.
Phil Crenshaw, manager of the La Cienega Boulevard store, declined to talk about the incident. But Amy Duncan, director of operations for L.A. Pizza, which operates 14 Domino's franchises, confirmed much of Annecelli's account.
She said she was not aware that he had been ordered out of the store and into the car at gunpoint.
"We train all our employees to not resist in any kind of robbery situation," she said. "He has car insurance, and I've been trying to reach him . . . to see what other things we can do for him."
The company also alerted Industrial Management Systems, a mediation service that L.A. Pizza retains to handle employee disputes.
Annecelli said Thursday that the mediation service told him to write a letter to L.A. Pizza, and that the service would review it. Once the mediator got involved, "I felt somebody was listening and I felt so much better about the situation," he said.
"There was failure (by management) to notify us on the day of the robbery," said mediator Cheri Beaupre of the Industrial Management firm. "Our real concern is somebody who isn't as outspoken as J. R."
Annecelli said he wanted the company to assume the liability for his stolen car and to pay him for the days of work he lost before he could arrange to rent a car, as well as a set of good clothes and other possessions that were in the car. The company should also increase its security precautions, he said.
Although he has since found two days a week of work as a waiter for a catering service, Annecelli said he plans to keep on delivering pizza--in his rented car.
He said he moved here from North Carolina earlier this year to try to establish himself in his own business.
"I had delivered for Domino's in North Carolina, and it had been a wonderful experience. I thought it would be a good way to make some money," he said.
He had been working at the store, which serves parts of West Hollywood and adjoining areas of Los Angeles, for one month.