Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
The signs were ominous.
California's power was about to be removed.
No, not by the Trump administration, but by the management at PG&E which seemed keen not to be liable for any fire damage while the utility is going through bankruptcy.
The management seemed so pleased by this decision that, the night before cutting power to 2 million people, many of them went for a vast dinner and wine-tasting event at a Sonoma winery.
Exactly two years after wildfires had ravaged through that very area.
What's this got to do with pizza, I hear you cry.
Well, for reasons that remain unclear, PG&E shut down much of the power in my California town, yet spared our house.
Which meant I could stay at home and work, while my wife was out on the town. (Um, having a drink with a work colleague.)
Suddenly, I felt like a pizza.
The problem was that my local pizza place--owned by a dedicated and talented couple from northern Italy--had no power.
What was I supposed to do? Order Domino's?
Well, there seemed few other options. All the local restaurants had been powered out.
So, with grumbling reluctance, I went to Domino's website.
The thing about some brands is that you think you know exactly what they are because you retain thoughts from many years before. I truly couldn't remember the last time I had a Domino's pizza.
I knew that Domino's had become more technologically sophisticated. I knew it had left Pizza Hut in the dust.
Which, from my last experience of Pizza Hut around 15 years ago, was a fine place for its pizzas.
I also knew that Domino's claimed its pizza had improved. But it was 10 years ago that Domino's confessed its previous pizzas had been akin to eating the contents of your recycling bin. (My paraphrase.)
But all big brands do that.
They claim to suddenly be better. Meanwhile, I claim to be unmoved.
Here I was, though, trapped in my laziness and preparing to order Domino's from the next town over, which hadn't been subjected to outages.
The website was remarkably easy to navigate and, even stranger, it allowed you to build your pizza in a way that was clear and borderline enjoyable.
And then I noticed the chain offered thin-crust pizzas.
It seems it's been doing it for 25 years, but I had no idea.
I associate most pizza chains with large crusts.
For me, pizzas with thick, fat crusts are like trying to eat a cheese and tomato Yorkshire pudding. Made by Guy Fieri.
I kept my Domino's thin-crust pizza simple: ham, mushroom, and green pepper.
I kept my expectations low. This was merely an attempt to fuel my body, so that my mind could project more nonsense to my laptop.
The pizza arrived exactly when Domino's said it would.
The driver looked a little harassed. With the power outages, he likely had a lot of deliveries to make.
I dared to accompany the pizza with a very decent glass of Cabernet Sauvignon. In truth, it was in the hope that if the pizza was bad the wine would cover its tracks.
I opened the box and tried to take a slice.
May we be honest with each other? Most times, taking a slice is a messy experience.
You try to pull it away, the cheese expresses reluctance and soon your chin and T-shirt have been Jackson Pollocked.
In this case, the pizza wasn't cut into slices, but little squares.
This may have constituted a certain sort of sacrilege. It also made it easy to eat and discouraged gorging.
As for the pizza itself, the crust was reasonably crispy and the topping tasted like actual food.
Not a hint of parchment. Not a tinge of the axle grease too many big-brand pizzas enjoy.
This was actually quite good.
Several times, I stared at the pizza and wondered about brand prejudice and why Italian soccer has always been so desperately ugly to watch. (I have a painfully wandering mind.)
I've never finished a 12-inch pizza in my life, but I ate a significant portion of this one for the naive reason that it actually tasted like a pizza.
When my wife came home, she was hungry and grabbed some of the remaining squares.
She offered this fulsome critique:
This isn't bad, even though it's cold.
Last week, Domino's CEO Ritch Allison spoke bullishly, but realistically to investors about the company's future.
He explained that many competitors were trying to undercut Domino's to get market share.
He admitted he couldn't offer a long-term forecast because so much was happening in the short term.
He revealed the chain would offer various new deals and services in order to compete. Delivery insurance is one.
At the heart of every brand, though, is the product.
And, in this case, the Domino's pizza managed to confront many of my prejudices and squish them.
That, for a big, mature brand, is one of the hardest things to do.