Monday, February 14, 2011

Fork in the Plate

I work in a fairly affluent office building and every morning when I walk into the building I am presented with a couple of options; I can go down the stairs to a restaurant or I can go straight into an office building. It occurs to me almost every day when I walk in that I get to see the two separate paths my life could have gone down. I get to stand at the literal fork in my life’s road.

When I was growing up I started working in a small dinner in south Minneapolis washing dishes, serving, cooking and by the time I was 18 managing. I was making a ton of money relative to my age and loving every minute of it. I could see myself doing it for the rest of my life to be honest. Great hours, cash, good people, fun environment that was constantly in motion.

One night I was closing down shop with my first mentor Eric and he looked at me and said kid what are you doing? You can do better. Until that moment I had never thought of what else I would do but for some reason those simple words from a man I truly respected shattered the whole illusion of what I wanted to do with my life.

They haunted me. They drove me.

About a month later I took a job in a corporate office. In a world of suit and ties and 9-5 grind. In a mail room in fact to complete the cliché.

I saw my group of friends less and less. It was hard keeping pace with people who don’t have to wake up at 7:00AM and work weekends.

I see the cooks outback on my way in smoking, laughing, letting the prep pile up until the last possible second, talking about who nailed which waitress last night. A part of me gets nostalgic and misses a lot of great people I had so much fun with. There was a tightness among my little tribe growing up as we struggled to make ends meet and beat out another day that I am not sure I will ever be able to fully replicate.

But every morning I smile to myself as I walk past the restaurant and into my office knowing I made the right choice.

Even though I have not seen Erik in 10 years every morning I press the elevator button I hear his voice say, “ kid what are you doing?, You can do better.”

And then I do.

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