Tranquil Prep


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He chose... Chicken.

It was lunch hour on a Sunday on the day before the coupons expired: unsurprisingly, the Chipolte was packed. The line for burritos stretched out the door. I was ordering two so that I could buy-one-get-one-free. The Curmudgeonly Lion was getting one so that he could get the free chips and salsa.

There was plenty of time to consider our orders. The counter workers were swift, but some things simply can’t be rushed and occasionally crafting a burrito is one of those things: especially at lunch hour when the Murphy’s law of ingredients states that no matter what you’re running low on, it will be the exact thing that everybody wants right now. In this case, chicken.

The counter workers flurried into motion to change out the pans, but the urgency didn’t extend to the kitchen where the prep workers went about their business with the casual attitude that cooking could not be rushed. At a station just behind the counter stood a prep worker methodically cutting up meat. He never looked up from his work, nor did he hurry. He wore The same uniform as everybody else: black tshirt, black hat. It was only the maille glove on his left hand, encased in food grade latex, and his attitude of serenity that set him apart. The steady chut-chut-chut of the knife beat out an unworried heartbeat to the kitchen as everybody else busted around him. The steadiness gave him a quality of nobility- like some kind of guardian knight put to work in the service of feeding the masses while guarding the temple of the Grail until a worthy opponent should best him in single combat. In a Chipolte of all places.

I didn’t get to observe for long. The chicken was replenished and it became necessary to field a litany of rapid fire questions in order to complete the transaction of lunch, but the image of the prep worker stuck in mind even after the burrito was gone.

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on September 1, 2015.

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