It wasn't due to the heavier-than-usual crush of Christmas traffic.
It was because of my deli man.
When I arrived at his little place, Roberto was practically in tears. Edgar, his short-order guy--the guy who toasts a corn, or makes a really superior bacon, egg and cheese on a seeded roll, was running two hours late.
That means running the place, manning both the cash-register and the grill was up to Roberto, and frankly, he couldn't handle it all. Customers were walking out angry and he was losing money egg over fist.
"Let me help you," I volunteered.
"I was a short order cook when I was a kid. I'll hang in until Edgar arrives."
You can read a smidgen about my previous short order experience here.
There's something nice about getting behind a counter and cracking eggs as fast as you can. There's something nice about your hands flying like wild birds and filling order after order.
There aren't meetings to go to to discuss the ramifications of new media on egg consumption. There's no one that says we need to do a new campaign for an order of whiskey-down with grease. There's no bs involved in flopping two with legs.
As I said last week when I marked either my 31st or 54th year in the business. There's a painful amount of talk and perseveration. The fact is I'd rather have a creative boss who can make a decision over one with surpassing taste.
In any event, Edgar arrived around 8:15 and assumed my apron and hairnet. I, ruefully, passed the spatula over to him like a King would hand down a scepter. Roberto went to pay me for my hour and a half behind the counter. But all things considered, I am rich and they are poor. And I let it go with a handshake and a hug.
The truth is, I would have paid them.