Opening

4 May

i’d begin at the beginning if i knew when that was.

 

maybe it’s the earthy scent of the first pot of coffee brewing, but once it cries it’s last droplet you’ve already poured it out to the back-of-house who got in an hour before you did to do prep work. before they got in and began decapitating broccoli and peeling onions to nothing there is the kitchen manager who, despite his early-bird mentality, has yet to decide on the specials by 11AM opening. he is sweating over it with the owner who is stressing over sales from last night since he got in with the morning deliveries. by that time the pastry chef was just finishing up having baked, breaded, drizzled and sauteed since dawn.

 

that being said, the beginning is certainly not when i put out the hanging flowers, straighten each table, sweep the floors and adorn the doorstep with a welcome mat. then i make another round of the tables, tap each one gently on each corner and wait for it to wobble in the slightest. a few will sway, unsure of what they have to offer diners, and i prop these ones up with a wedge under the stunted leg. most will hang firm. ready itself for the first customer. it’s always preferable to call them people who patronize you with their orders “guests”.

 

what the “guests” need to understand, what we all need to know, is that there is always a beginning before you arrived. even if you are the first customer of the day, even if you are the pastry lady, even if you are the dawn. the sun doesn’t have the luxury or the hubris to deny it’s role in a machine, a system.

 

the sun presides over our universe, but there is always a solar system that encompasses that which is beyond her, and the restaurant is something different entirely. it rises and falls with the ring of the cash register and the pen scratches of tabs added up, delivered ambitiously to a business lunch, trucker pit stop, hungover college co-eds. some days it is a gasping for air, some days it is a sigh of relief, but every day there is a breath – a rise and a fall – and one before, and one after, and again until… then came me, an apron and a fresh pot of coffee brewed after the one poured already and a smile that speaks through clenched teeth and deception, “may i take your order?”

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