Not so long ago, I was asked a question, “if you had the opportunity to do whatever you wanted to do, outside of work, what would it be?”
I have to admit, that question kind of got me stumped. It was asked by someone more senior than me, so I had the option of either waffling about some dream I wanted to achieve, or talk grandiosely about how I want to reach my full professional potential.
Of course, being me, always wanting to give the politically correct answer (my wife would attest to this), I narrated my near to mid-term plans about how I was going to pull ahead in the rat-race. I was going get qualified until they ran out of alphabets to put after my name.
Deep inside though, that’s not what I wanted. All I want, is a simple life (yes, cliched), doing something that makes me happy (OMG! Another cliche!). Honestly, I’ve imagined myself running a small, but buzzing little eatery.
What would I serve? I have no idea, I figured I would let the chef decide what dishes to serve. But I would imagine it would be a combination of curated eastern and western flavours. I have my reservations towards the local style of picking and mixing dishes together, for the simple fact that two things may be good, but in combination, might not be so, but I’ll stop here, for fear of being called a snob.
This little eatery of mine would have a steady stream of clienteles throughout the day, repeats, first-timers, all wanting to treat their taste-buds to our tantalising array of carefully created dishes. The portions are just right, and the price is reasonable. Everybody is happy.
The idea came to me every time I reminisce the days I used to have, working shifts in what I thought had to be the busiest Nando’s in time (I wouldn’t know though, I didn’t have experience elsewhere). On good days, we would whip out close to a hundred burgers and wraps in the span of an hour.
At that time, we had a manager who would run the entire operation, from dining floor to kitchen with military rigour. Everything had to be ready at a specific time, and everybody was assigned a task, and you fell in or out of that station upon command. But boy, did the kitchen and dining run like a well oiled machine.
The work was tough, often stressful and frustrating, getting screamed at every now and then, but I think what I got from all that was that, if you had the right people around you, no matter how tough it got, you would always pull through. The satisfaction was almost instant, people would finish their meal, walk out and say their thank yous to the till operators. It was great, because you knew you served up something they enjoyed.
Sure, it wasn’t a Michelin star restaurant, it was merely a fast food restaurant, but hey, we were a great team and we got shit done, day in, day out.
I guess in a way, I kind of miss that, being in the heat of the moment, working together, putting on the table something some folks would enjoy.
Now I did mention that I’d leave the food and all to a trusted chef. What I would be doing though, would be manning the coffee bar. Yeah, we finally got there, all that way just to find out that all I want to do is pull shots of coffee.
That’d be great, I would love to just pull great shots of espresso, talking to visitors about the particular single origin, or particular blend that we have in store. Just sharing my love with other people, and hope that they feel the joy that I feel with every cup.
Yep, that was pretty much what was running thru my head at the time, in parallel to my narrative about creating an alphabet soup after my name. For the moment though, it remains an…aspiration, but who knows, maybe one day, I might just own my own establishment.
Yeah, who knows?