Sunday, February 19, 2012

Herding Cats

Isn't that the expression?

Yeah. That's it. Herding cats.

That's what opening your own cafe is like.

There are a million things to chase and only a handful of people to chase them. You find out very quickly that simply yelling, "someone wash soup spoons" does not mean someone will wash soup spoons and telling someone "don't let me forget to pick up toothpicks tomorrow" does absolutely no good when that someone has been subsisting on four hour's sleep per night for three weeks.

Our first week is little more than a blur with occasional flashes of terror or euphoria. Every now and then we'd look up, make eye contact with each other and have the expression of "we're really doing this!" on our faces.

To say this community of Romney, WV, has embraced our little venture is an understatement. They have been welcoming and supportive; but, most of all, they have been forgiving. There were times, especially on the first day, that we more resembled the Keystone Kops than a restaurant staff.

At first we were all specialized, requiring five people behind the counter serving a 20-seat restaurant.  I'm sure most of the people who came, showed up for the floor show: frantic monkeys jumping around and bumping into each other, somehow managing to deliver food to them -- and sometimes it was even the right food...

The next week the hours were brutal as we tried to serve our customers and teach each other to do our jobs so we can eventually take some time off. We are determined to be open seven days a week.

The twins have shown themselves to be remarkably adaptable -- Lucas picked up on the grill immediately. Dirtman spent only one day teaching Trevor that beastly expresso machine along with all the concoctions it emits and he's yet to be stumped by a request.

As for the over-40 crowd...well, we seem to be a little more resistant to mastering new skills, but we soldier on. I finally tackled the panini grill and DG no longer leaves a pile of tickets to be entered into the cash register by someone else.

Some day I hope to manifest a pitcher of steamed milk without sputtering milk all over the place or burning my arms with boiling liquid. This is also DG's hope, since this only seems to happen when he's just cleaned and sanitized the entire expresso machine. There were words and I think it was a good thing there were customers  around because, when he saw the mess, he could only stand there and puff, "Oh, fffff.....Oh, Jeanne....Oh, fffff...."

Never mind about the third degree burns on my arms, DG...

Which reminds me of the other thing that used to be so important, but has suddenly become minor: injuries.

The first day, when Lucas cut himself on a knife, we all jumped to his aid and carefully cleaned, disinfected and wrapped his wound. But, then, as we got busier and busier, we all took a turn slicing a finger or two and pretty soon we weren't reacting at all except to scream at the victim, "Get that thing wrapped and bus table 2!"

What has become important?


And my feet.

Well, sleep is important to all of us. We were all working 15-hour days, seven days a week. This weekend we finally gave Trevor and Lucas a chance to take over and DG, Dirtman and I left three hours early and arrived a few hours later the next morning. And, somehow, the world survived without us.

My feet are really only my concern -- and Dirtman's, who has to listen to me talk about them more than any human should have to hear about feet.

It's amazing how much these two minor things occupy my mind -- when I'm not dreaming of making soup.

Oh, did I mention that, during all this, we're also moving?

Right now I'm living in a house with a bed, no furniture and NO DOGS. Dirtman sometimes stays here or sometimes goes to the Virginia house to pack and close it up. He has promised to at least bring Zsa Zsa and Whiskers with him next trip -- now that I have all this free time on my hands.

So now you know why I haven't posted in a while. And, it occurs to me, I must be settling in because I'm sitting here in my own cafe, relaxed and happy, posting on my blog just like I have for the past six years.

I guess I'm home.


Steven Martin said...

Great essay. I hope Romney will be your family's and the Cafe's home for many years to come. Its a beautiful and inviting sight to see the corner cafe windows lit up again after dark. Giving directions to the cafe is easy too. Its on the corner at the stoplight, at the one stoplight downtown!
Steven Martin
Church View Farm
Three Churches, WV

Lainey said...

So happy that your dream is coming true. <3 to you from a LONG time lurker :)

Dave Aragona said...

Jeanne - sounds brutal. Great writing as usual. Hope all begins to go smoothly as you work out the routines.

Sisiggy said...

Thanks for the well-wishes, everyone!

A belated welcome, Lainey!