Officer's efforts to discard pizza box win a new pie

August 12, 1994|By Gregory P. Kane | Gregory P. Kane,Sun Staff Writer

"We got a special delivery here for Steve Moody," Lt. William Tankersley said yesterday afternoon as he held a large pizza at the Eastern District police station's roll call room.

Officer Moody, 35, seemed a bit perplexed as he received the pizza, along with a letter written in longhand by County Executive Robert Neall.

"Read it out loud," his fellow officers urged.

"Dear Mr. Moody," he began. "I am in receipt of your troublesome pizza box in today's mail and am truly sorry for the anguish this incident has caused you. I have directed the director of solid waste (trash) Mr. James Pittman to promulgate a pizza box policy so that this unfortunate misunderstanding will not be repeated.

"In an effort to make amends for your inconvenience, I have taken the liberty of ordering for you one large Papa John's pizza."

What, Officer Moody's colleagues wanted to know, was the letter all about?

"I sent Mr. Neall a pizza box," he explained.

It was a box no one seemed to want. The county's regular trash workers wouldn't take it because it was recyclable. The recycle workers wouldn't take it because it had grease on it.

On Friday, July 29, Officer Moody tried to recycle the box. It was left behind. He tried again the next recycle day, Aug. 5. This time workers left the box on the ground, Officer Moody said.

"I called the trash department and they said, 'Stick it in a bag.' That's probably a great idea to them," Officer Moody continued to a rising chorus of cackling from his fellow officers.

He did as he was told, put the box in a bag for the next regular trash pickup -- Aug. 9. Again, nothing happened.

"So I wrapped it up, put a letter in it, took it to the post office and asked, 'What's the cheapest way to send this thing?' " he said. It cost $1.79 to send the nettlesome box.

The letter detailed the problems encountered in trying to get rid of the pizza box. Louise Hayman, a spokeswoman for Mr. Neall, said the problems Officer Moody had might be limited to his neighborhood.

"We contract out recycling pickups to private companies," she said "Apparently some were confused about whether they are supposed to pick up pizza boxes."

Mr. Neall's letter urges Officer Moody to "dispose of [the box] in the conventional way and report to me after trash day if my pizza-box edict is being properly followed."

Officer Moody has lived in Outing Park for the past five years with his wife and two sons. His inspired and unorthodox way of solving the pizza box disposal problem should be expected from a man whose home answering machine message says, "Hello. '' They're not home right now. But I am."

A 15-year veteran of the force, he received a Silver Star in 1983 for helping to arrest two armed robbery suspects. An Officer of the Year Award from an Odenton civic group in 1988 shows he and the other officers are all business when they're on the street.

But at the district station, they're relaxed, prone to joking. Officer Moody often leads the way.

Lieutenant Tankersley, commander of the 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. shift, has supervised Officer Moody for the 1 1/2 years he has been assigned to the Eastern District. He wasn't surprised that Officer Moody sent the box to the county executive.

"Steve's a strange duck, but he gets the job done," Lieutenant Tankersley said. "Steve can be amusing. We get a lot of laughs and a lot of fun."

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