My wife Needed me, on Valentine’s Day…
Oh yeah, she needed me baaaaaad!
to work, at the restaurant, that is 🙂
4 years ago at the ripe old age of 26, Lindsay, and her brother and her Dad went into the Restaurant business. They bought The Brand’N Iron Bar and Grill in Princeton, KS, in 2008. Last night, St. Valentine’s Dinner, was possibly the biggest, most packed, slammed and all-out crazay nights they’ve ever experienced.
It was wild. At the crack of 4:30 people started in. Tables were quickly full and before long it was standing room only. We had the rail full of tickets in the kitchen. The handwritten orders were stuck together in batches and climbing all the way up to the ceiling, held strong by thick black circle magnets on the massive hood over the grill.
Our salad prep area had stacks of bowls ready to go out. The waitresses were flying in, and flying out while dishes clanked and clattered into the sinks. Almost every order was our best stuff. Steaks and Steaks and Shrimp and Bakes. Dang good meals. In 4 hours we sold over a week’s worth of steaks. All our extra food we had planned for, was gone by Seven O Clock. Halfway through the night, we were down to only our regular menu, and the orders kept pilling in.
We had extra staff, but needed more. Family members in for dinner and even customers were jumping in to buss tables and help with seating people. Some of the regulars were giving up their spots before they ordered, after they’d already waited a long time. We were moving through the food orders, but with serious thick cut steaks and limited grill space, it just takes awhile… So there we were, in a perfect moment that we’re all looking for…
I know, I know… maybe not everyone would see peace in this moment, but it was there. Among the noise and sizzle, in between the slamming doors of refrigerators and stacks of dishes, there was peace. As the jumbo shrimps were placed onto massive 20 oz. cuts of succulent Prime Rib, there was peace. As the waitresses yelled out adjustments to the tickets as we ran out of item after item, in disbelief, there was peace. As I worked at my post; the Fry Boy, the Sides Guy, Mashed Man, helping with plating and garden and fetching stuff from the walk-in, this peace was sublimely apparent in fleeting moments…
Peace came in these words: What’s Next.
I believe our human systems were really designed for these amazing experiences. Every person on our staff, and even customers too were all in this thing together, working as hard as possible on these two words: What’s Next. See, from my position, I have a timeline, a future, a place for plenty of worry; The Rail. The rail that holds our tickets shows me the bulk and depth of our work ahead. It glares at me with faces of people and hungry bellies. It says, ‘Holy Crap, tons and tons of meals are yet to be cooked. And some have been up here awhile.’ That rail, that future work, can get into your head. It can kill your productivity. Spending even a moment contemplating this reality, is wasting our time.
The only place where my thoughts, my energy or my precious physical movements are useful is on this one clearly defined action: What’s next.
With Hundreds of items prepared last night, for lots of hungry people; patrons, appreciated customers of our beloved business, there was only ONE thing to do at any given time. That was the One Next Thing.
Living in a true moment of What’s Next, is Peace.
No matter how much, I would have loved to jump into the future and clear out a dozen tickets instantly, it isn’t possible. As much as I would have loved to kick back for a moment, relaxing and reflecting on the dozens of tickets we’d already completed and meals previously served, that would cause havoc, a pile-up. Being anywhere mentally into my past, or into my future: a grave mistake. Maybe others in our midst, lived there. We had a couple problems, some irritable customers. They had waited awhile, I’m sure. We had to make some adjustments. And they let us know of their distress. Once the delicious food came though, the complaints were quieted. Those fine folks had locked into their own present moment then. They weren’t living in the dramatic moments before, when their mind and belly was worried the food may never come. They were ready and enjoying the meals now. They found their own: What’s Next. And that was EAT 🙂
I saw red cheeks on our hardworking waitstaff. I saw constant deliberate orchestrated movement among us three cooks (Owners of this place). I heard request after request being filled through bold action and instant decision making. I saw compassion and help and generosity from those out front, who recognized the needs and jumped to assist. Everyone rose the occasion.
That my friends is Peace. This is what Peace looks like. Intentional All Out Work Toward a Common Goal. And I will go back to double-check myself, but one thing I will not say about this night, is that we were Busy.
Busy is word that sucks. I believe people have ruined it. Our culture holds in it high esteem. Rarely does Busy look like this. Busy is a lame excuse for not being our best selves. We use Busy to explain why were not doing what we really want to be doing. Or why we can’t commit to something great. Or Busy is the way to say, ‘Yeah, I’m a normal person, I’m doing my little part, I’m not going to share anything of value, or say what’s really up in my world’, I’ll just tell you ‘I’m Busy’ and we’ll leave it at that. ‘I’m actually so Busy, I don’t have time to talk about anything of substance. We’ll converse again soon, if I can find time, in my busy-ness, to talk about how busy we both are, see you then.’
We were not busy, We were being our Best, playing full out, in the Peacefully amazing world of: What’s Next?
In this world,
- Worry doesn’t exist. ‘There’s no space for it.’
- Self consciousness; holding back doesn’t exist: ‘There is a need, I can help, NOW.’
- Needing to be motivated or have will-power is a ridiculous concept: ‘Stuff needs Done, I’ll Do It!’
- Social norms or being polite or staying out of each other’s way can’t happen: ‘We’ll bump, we’ll push, we’ll talk loud and ask for what we need, It’s All Important.’
- Perfect-ness or Doing-it-all-Correctly, doesn’t exist either, mistakes are happening, it’s part of this process: ‘Act Fast, Fail Fast, Adjust Fast.’
Want proof that this is a good thing, that this what we’re really designed for and built for? The conversation among the staff at 10:00, with beer bottles clanking as the final tables are wiped down, and the last few patrons are paying up, is like this: “Wow, what an amazing night, did you see everyone jumping in to help? Did you see all the people that came to have dinner with us? It is amazing how smooth it went, with so much to be done, so quickly. Time was flying by, and I didn’t even notice it passing.Thank You everyone for your efforts and help and Wow!” We were all alive with energy and invigorated afterward!
That is what peace looks like. Uptempo Gratitude and Loving Exhaustion from Serving people to the best of our abilities in the moment. I was truly blessed to be able to be a part of this divinely gifted moment of: What’s Next.
Now… how can I serve the world again today? What is on my plate and where do I go from here? I guess I look up at the Rail of Tickets of my life, and live into, “What’s Next!”
Want to talk more about ‘What’s Next’ for you?
You’re invited to join the next weirdforgood hangout, and engage in a workshop on Exhausting Love Making on Valentine’s Day – you’ll need a free Google+ account, 45minutes to engage with us, at 5:30 CST, and device with a camera & headset/microphone. If you can Skype, you can do this, (it’s actually really easy ) Then email me at firstname.lastname@example.org – before Tuesday – I’ll send you the hangout invite when we start.
Check out last week’s hangout here, to get a feel for it. Join us if you dare!