A day at the ritz
It had been two straight years since I hadn’t taken a break from work. The stress was taking its toll on my performance so my supervisor gave me five days of mandatory rest and relaxation. With all the time on my hands, I found it difficult to get through the first day. A quote from Pooh Little Instruction Book came to mind, “Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.” The silence was deafening, as I was used to the sounds of incessant tapping on keyboards, the humming of computers, clicking of heels on floors muted by carpets, and the list goes on. Suffice it to say, I missed work and I was downright miserable.
There are, unfortunately, multitudes of things that we dismiss wholly because we were too busy to be concerned, or to care. I learned this on the next few days when a friend of mine saw me as a mission of mercy and dragged me to the restaurant where she worked as a sous chef for one of the swankiest restaurants uptown. It was her boss’ day off and she was running the show. She promptly introduced me to her crew, who were very courteous despite the busy environment. In no time, my friend had me rolling dough and cutting them into little bits for gnocchi.
It was a marvel watching this very singular work setting. Those of us who are hardly familiar with what goes on behind the kitchens of our favorite restaurants will be in awe at the expertise this talented crew can create with various foods. I stayed for about four hours, just until lunch was served to the customers. The restaurant had closed at two in preparation for dinnertime, and then the staff had their lunch with me as their special guest. We had gnocchi (surprise!) and everyone was chatting and laughing and having a fantastic time.
My interactions with the kitchen crew gave me a different perspective on work and life. They move to a different beat of the drum: pots and pans clanging with knives and turners, ladles, whirring blenders, what have you. They all but showed me that work and enjoyment can mesh together, believe me. All it takes from us is that we appreciate the work we have now, and of course a little imagination goes a long way.
Milne, A.A. Pooh’s Little Instruction Book. New York: Dutton Juvenile, 1995.