Shades of Opinion

Yes, it’s a shameless plug for my business at the lower right edge, but I get to determine what goes and what doesn’t. This is my blog. My opinion, sarcastically written while a smirky, snarky corner smile reroutes sweat over my 95-degree, 85-percent humid, tired-pump heated face. Yes, my opinion is valuable … if only to me.

I sit on an uncomfortable metal chair waiting for customers to arrive. It’s another day of food sloshing. I don’t mind my customers at all, rather, they’re quite amusing. Attitudes can vary from an extreme euphoria on one end to a deep, cavernous malaise on the other … and all colors of “What the hell am I doing?” in between.

I’ve witnessed these various viewpoints as I stand in Doug puddles behind the grill. Varieties of opinions not only are expressed from my customers, but also live in my inward, laser-like unfocused, mind – where ideas disguised as shaded, nuanced ambiguities live. Back and forth we volley semi-words like “uhm” and “eh” in response to queries equally perplexing such as “wah?” and “meh?”. It’s a world I’m used to these days. The heat pounding off the earth is driving me insane. As well, forcing my body to stand erect hours on end – behind the ever-present bubbling steam table and grill contraption I designed for income-producing pleasure – is adding to my hotness (wow … did I just write that word as a descriptor for myself …?)

This moment of respite I shall take. A well deserved frozen moment in clock stoppage. No customers at the ready. Food in warmers. Sodas on ice. Flags waving a welcoming “hello” to passers-by. I am sincerely hoping – to the dismay of my accountant and checkbook – customers take their time considering whether or not to stop. I need this time to chill … literally.

This isn’t a normal time, to be sure. A one-hundred year pandemic is certainly bigger than my gripe about a few hours behind the meat monster grill cart. This isn’t my first hot summer and, hopefully, not my last stand under a catch-22, heat-holding, sun-blocking, sail-to-any-wind canopy. It requires four ratchet tie-downs as does my recent attitude … as if you couldn’t tell. I’m not at all angry. That’s not a word in my vocabulary. A jilted peddler, perhaps? Left behind at the peaceful alter of seller sanity? Who knows? I’m married to my profession – that’s a given – and I love what I do, so heat be damned! I sit here contemplating. Thinking. The metal chair is melting my attitude a bit … my thoughts go toward one word: SHADE.

S FOR SITS in life. The time to sit here and think. I am untroubled about the woes in our world. You shouldn’t be either. Be passionate about where you stand … absolutely. Live for what you believe. Breathe in the knowledge you have gained by being you. Give generously to others through what you have been given. All of these wonderfuls have enriched my life in the middle of being misunderstood, maligned, or mistreated. You have so much when it seems like you have so little.

H FOR HARMONY in life. Be happy. Nature wants us to be in harmony with her by being happy. So overused, but so true. I’ve heard it said it takes more muscles to frown than to smile. Whether this is correct, I’ve never confirmed … who cares, right? Twice last week, customers thanked me for the conversations at my cart. Not sure they could remember details if pressed, but I bet they remember being happy when they left. Emotions are strong motivators. This is why happy people perform better and are healthier. (I kinda want to debate this as I happily stuff my face, weekly, with pizza, sno-cones, burgers, and bacon). Force yourself to be happy those times when a tire is so inconveniently flat, a schedule is way out of whack, or your dog is up a tree. An insincere smile is always better than a sincere frown.

A FOR APPLES in life. Growing up, I never understood why eating a fresh, crisp apple after being outside playing always pulled me back from a fog. Fancy words didn’t suffice then, only, “I have to stop now …” echoing inside my head meant to head inside. The cold juice running down my chin signaled the beginning of a return to normalcy from what seemed to be a lull of neurological function. After a few minutes, the dizziness stopped, my mind cleared up, and life headed forward. Never knowing the cause other than a possible recurring drop in sugar, I went forward in life. We have these apples saving us every day. Small semi-lifeboats keeping us going. Kind words from friends, a special nod from a stranger, … finding a dollar or two in a pair of pants (preferably our own – don’t go random-reaching into other folk’s pockets) … these are small returns to normalcies we need to be on the lookout for daily. You have them. Keep looking.

D FOR DIGGING in life. Want to know more? Start digging into it. We have a local radio show featuring daily trivia questions. I love ’em! When I call in, I use the name my mom called me when we played trivia games together – as a way to remember our time pushing little game pieces around a board. Sports, Movies, Politics, etc … all subjects are covered while levels of difficulty vary as well. I won’t call in unless I’m Trebekian-sure of my answer for two reasons. #1) I am absolutely sure someone would recognize my voice ONLY if I got the answer wrong, and #2) I would feel guilty wasting the host’s time doing it any other way. Give or take a few condiment answers slipping off dawg questions, I’ve been pretty accurate. One step I always take is confirming my answer via research. I dig into the question … if time allows. If I can’t confirm my sneaking-suspicions, then it’s a no-go. Period. There’s the small treasure I’ve found. Whatever you want to know, or already know but want to know more about, find value in researching and confirming. Do the digging. It can be dirty work along the way and you may not get on the air, but the new information in your life is so worth it.

E FOR ENTERTAINMENT in life. My dad’s best expression, although he doesn’t know it, is “Here we go…”. The eye roll starts it. This is the best three-word phrase he could ever find in a vat of English words to say as a reaction to my reaction when something strikes my fancy in public. There’s no intention to embarrass my dad in public. He simply assumes the role of dad-as-chief-embarrassed when I openly, but respectfully, begin to speak my mind. Humorously, mind you, and always either self-reflecting or about the matters at hand. Never would I ever speak of others around or make light of the misfortunes of those less advantaged. My intent is to entertain those near and dear to me … including dad. He’s never entertained, though, and I don’t know why. One level, I suppose: serious. Or, he imagines my level of crazy and can’t relate. Whatever the case, I won’t stop because he needs conversational rabbits and magic hats in his life. Be open to entertainment or be that magician for someone. Amazing things can happen.

It looks like time has passed by … so much so I had to finish this comfortably sitting in my office chair at home. Problem being, I know in less than eight hours I must repeat the stainless-slamming once more in the heat.

It all sounds so depressing and I mean no disrespect to my business. Like I said, Doing the doing is hard in this environment. Heat, covid, masking issues, food, supply issues, rolls going bad, change shortages, on and on … all of the sludgery-buldudgery can get burdensome on this guy once in a while. The sit by the shade was a good thing today. Glad it happened due to it not happening very often. Darn customers making me get up all the time!

Go ahead … roll your eyes. Detect the sarcasm? Entertainment value only. I love my customers and will continue to be happy as each and every one of them lean on my cart for their food-stuffs. Sweating this out is a small price to pay for their happiness in a bun. Oh, and the conversations and attitudes will always be weird as nobody – including me – knows what the hell we are doing most of the time.

That’s ok. I think most everyone else doesn’t know either. In that light, we should all meet in the shade together and talk out our problems, … “eh?”

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